Effective Employee Communication Begins With A Structured Yet Flexible Plan
Creating a comprehensive plan to address immediate communications priorities while remaining flexible enough to accommodate unforeseeable needs may sound like a tough order, but it is possible as long as you take the time to organize your tools and establish a communication rhythm first.
As we covered in Ward to the Wise last week, for any internal communication program to be successful you must first discover your true employee communication needs. An Employee Communication Survey is an efficient way to learn how your employees prefer to get information, where the holes in your communication lie and what type of information your employees want and need to receive. Once you have that background in hand, you are ready to proceed with creating a plan.
Step 1: Organize Your Toolbox
The first step in creating a plan that provides both structure and flexibility is to identify and understand all of the tools in your communication toolbox. Start by eliminating tools that are not effective. Remember your goal is to keep and leverage what works best.
Next, look at the technology around you to see what tools you already have that you aren’t using or aren’t using well. The smart phone in your pocket can probably record short videos. Have you considered using a video blog to reach out to employees rather than a written email message? New technology tools specifically designed to promote communication within organizations are becoming more readily available. A solution may already exist.
Step 2: Establish Your Rhythm
Next, establish a schedule that uses your tools to their best advantage and that can be managed and sustained with your current resources. Your goal is to establish a steady flow of information.
Frequently, enthusiastic communicators launch an overly ambitious plan that falls apart because resources are not available to sustain it. Such failure can be more damaging to employee engagement than not doing anything. Make sure you can keep the promises you make even if it means you go at a slower, phased pace.
Step 3: Add Content
Your tools and communication rhythm provide the basic infrastructure for your employee communication. With these pieces in place you will be able to create a schedule for planned communication as well as deploy various tools to respond rapidly when something unexpected occurs.
So, what are the burning issues in your organization, and how can you use communications to improve performance? What do your employees want to know about today? Prioritize your communication based your strategic needs, layering information across multiple tools to reinforce the key messages that emerged during your survey or needs assessment.
As you go forward, treat your communications plan as a living document. Regularly assess your needs and priorities and make adjustments as they change.
Do you need help to put a plan in place to effectively manage and sustain communication with your employees? If so, contact Ward. Our internal communications team has expertise in creating plans that meet both your employee and your business needs.