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Automating the Internal Communications Process (Part 2 of 4)

Posted by EmployeeChannel on 5.17.2018

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In a recent blog, “Are We Headed Toward a Perfect Storm in Workforce Communications?,” we suggested taking four actions to address the communication requirements of a digital workforce. This four-part series will cover each point in greater detail. Check out the first post in the series here

Provide coaching/training to improve the communication skills of line managers. 

Consider recent research that speaks to the single most pressing challenge in internal communications:

  1. In a 2016 Interact survey, a stunning 69% of the managers responded that they are uncomfortable “communicating in general” with their employees.
  2. In the 2017 State of the Sector report released by Gatehouse, 52% of professional communicators cited lack of line manager communication skills as the biggest barrier to internal communications success.
  3. When asked to describe their organization’s strategy in their own words and to list the top five strategic priorities, only “55% of middle managers surveyed [could] name even one of their company’s top five priorities.”

Let’s pause for a moment and consider those points:

  • Managers are not comfortable communicating with employees.
  • Managers lack the skills to communicate effectively with employees.
  • Managers are not likely to communicate the organization’s goals.

Okay, we have a problem.

To improve line manager communication, we need to improve their skills first and then build or restore their confidence as a result of the strength of those skills. One strategy to follow would include:

  • An assessment of the communication skills of managers.
  • Communication training based upon the skills assessment and gap analysis.
  • Tools that provide digital coaching which will strengthen managers’ ability to communicate while not requiring them to become expert writers.

To improve managers’ ability to effectively communicate the organization’s vision, values, and goals, consider executing an annual communication campaign for leaders and managers that communicates business priorities consistently, frequently, and at multiple touch points throughout the year. For example:

  • Publish monthly manager updates on how well the organization is performing against strategic priorities.
  • Survey managers quarterly to solicit their feedback on the company’s performance against strategic priorities.
  • Create publications that can be easily customized by managers to cascade down information on strategic priorities.
  • Create surveys that managers can use to solicit feedback from their teams on how they believe the team is contributing to strategic priorities.
  • Create on-demand content on strategic priorities that can be accessed anytime, anywhere by managers and employees.
  • Use an employee forum to post quarterly updates on strategic priorities, celebrate teams and individuals who have contributed to the advancement of strategic priorities, and solicit employees’ feedback that managers can factor into their own communication.

Strategic plans and priorities are doomed to fail if we don’t improve the communication of line managers. And success will be directly proportional to the investment we make in the process and tools to make managers better communicators.

Stay tuned to the EmployeeChannel blog for part three of this series on employee communication. 

Topics: internal communications, workplace communication

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