Have you ever been in a meeting that’s lasted too long? When you first skimmed over the agenda, you settled into your chair—you weren’t going anywhere for a while. Soon, you found yourself daydreaming about a weekend on the lake and when you snapped back to reality, you realized you had missed item III: New Strategy. You tried to stay focused, hoping there would be a follow-up email that would explain what you missed. Two hours later, you walked out of the conference room and headed for the break room for a cup of coffee. Your mind was full of information, some relevant to your position, some not. You felt overwhelmed about what to do with this new information but also frustrated about the time you lost actually working. You wonder why the meeting was necessary when an email would have sufficed. That is an email only with information relevant to your position.
If you’ve been in a meeting like this or conducted a meeting like this, you know it’s not beneficial in the long run. Effective internal communication is crucial to the success of your organization. So, rather than bombarding your employees with lengthy emails or meetings that leave everyone confused and frustrated, start communicating in a way that makes a positive impact. Below are 10 questions to ask yourself as you craft and prepare to deliver internal communication. These questions will ensure the message is effective both in the way it’s sent and in how it’s received by your employees.
1. Is the information simple and relevant?
Rather than bombard your employees with long, confusing newsletters or speeches, make sure the information you’re sharing is relevant and simply stated. Address your employees’ real needs and questions so that your communication is pointed and helpful. When your message is clearly communicated, your employees will be more engaged when it’s time to read or listen to what you have to say in the future.
2. Is the information easily digestible?
To ensure every employee understands what you are trying to communicate, avoid wordy messages, legal jargon, and technical language. Consider whether or not your message will be easily received and understood by every employee—whether or not English is their native language.
3. Is the language authentic?
Use conversational language that shows your employees there is a human behind even the most mundane messages. Employees value authenticity in their leadership and can spot phony “corporate speak” a mile away. To make your voice heard and respected, speak (or write) authentically.
4. Am I using appropriate channels?
Determine which channel is best for the information you’re sharing. Do you need to send an email newsletter or a text message? Is a meeting required or can you send a memo through a shared app or project management software? The most well-crafted email or rehearsed presentation can be lost on your employees if it’s not the right channel to communicate your message.
5. Is the message focused?
Consider adopting a framework for all of your communication so that your employees can easily process what you have to say. Messages that routinely answer questions like “what, so what, now what” give your employees a new strategy or topic, explain why it’s necessary, and offer actionable steps. Avoid long newsletters or meetings that address too many topics and leave your employees overwhelmed and unsure what to do with the information they’ve received. Instead, focus on one topic that you can share concisely.
6. Does the information reinforce company values?
Every time you communicate, you have the opportunity to solidify the company’s values. Repetition fosters a shift in company culture and keeps your company’s beliefs, mottos, and mission in front of your employees. This will also help your employees feel confident about working for the organization when they realize that their specific job impacts the whole company.
7. Am I reaching every employee?
As you consider which channel is best for your message, you also need to take inventory of the employees you are trying to reach. Research locations, departments, and age groups to find out which channels are effective in reaching your employees. Are you taking different learning styles into consideration? Can your employees absorb the information if they are auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners? Try communicating the same message in a variety of different ways to make sure the message is resonating.
8. Did I communicate the “why”?
As best you can, fill in all the blanks for your employees. If they don’t understand why a decision was made, they will come to their own conclusions. This often leads to distrust, disengagement, and disgruntled employees. Instead, help your employees relate to the reasoning behind choices made by leadership.
9. Am I communicating consistently?
Make sure your employees hear from you regularly. Rather than sending out a monthly newsletter, send quick messages that reinforce your company’s strategy, explain the why behind new expectations or changes, keep the vision in front of your managers and employees so that they know what they are working towards and feel a connection to top leadership.
10. Has someone else read the information before it’s sent out?
Find a trusted person to review your message before it’s delivered to every employee. Have someone listen to the information you intend to communicate and then ask them to repeat it back to you. This helps you know whether or not your message is concise, clear, and easily absorbed. It’s easier to make changes before the information goes out than having to clarify instructions later.
At Front Line Leadership, we want to help team leaders and managers thrive so that your employees, and therefore your organization as a whole, succeeds. To learn more about how to effectively communicate and lead with excellence, contact Front Line Leadership today.