There is a business myth that if you communicate through email, newsletters, memos, texts, or intranet sites, you’ll get your message out to your employees, and they will be supported. These numerous channels let employees know what a business wants and needs. This works sometimes, but if you’re honest, in most cases, it fails when dealing with new initiatives, processes, projects, or changes.
It’s easy to think that collectively sending out communications frequently and through multiple channels, people will know what’s happening. But if your goals are to have a successful change, you still have a lot of work to do.
Old school communication
If your business, organization, or department is still sending out memos and emails with announcements of change, you’re not alone. These methods are considered old school and ineffective because of the assumptions it makes and lack of collaboration.
New school communication
Generations ago, there were only face-to-face communication. Today there are many forms of communication, and these tools can be a God sent and a crutch. Most leaders realize the need to utilize today’s communication methods, and they have adopted them. Unfortunately, suffering from turning to tools versus developing a strategy.
Leaders need to combine old school and new school communication methods for success. Employees get bombarded with information and do not always understand it or just never read it. What works for one group may not work for another. Also, these methods are not engaging and usually fail because the employees were not part of the decision process. I’ve spoken to or been a part of discussions with hundreds of employees about communication, and this is the general feeling.
Leaders often rely on the communication teams to get their news out, but it’s only one aspect of effective communication. It’s everyone’s responsibility at all levels to be involved in doing it. Do not leave it to one leader or one communication method. Diversity and scheduling is a crucial aspect of effective communications.
Resolve objections in a social atmosphere
Don’t just try to guess what employees are worried about. Ask them. Find out what their concerns are? Recently, I asked a group of employees what their biggest challenges are? They said they were speechless because nobody ever asked them anything before. Face-to-face communication is incredibly valuable. Often I’ve found that it’s in this dialogue the most insightful resolutions come to light or when potential problems present themselves before damaging a project.
Are meetings considered social?
Yes, but are the right people at the meeting? Are all employees affected represented? Is it organized with purpose and has action items? Meetings can sometimes go off the rails, and the leader of it must steer it back. Organizations can get meeting crazy, too. Frustrations occur if people think the meeting is a waste of time.
In the end, you should not communicate TO the people but should communicate WITH the people. Create environments that inspire conversation and build relationships. If you focus on treating people with respect and let them know that you value them and their work, you will get the same in return and in doing so, gain much influence and credibility for your projects.