Saturday, 28 February 2015

Dear Management: Your Communications Suck!









The Employee speaks:

 
I neither have the time nor the etiquette to break this to you delicately, so here it goes:

 

Your communications suck!



Everything about them is dismal - the email overload; the intrusive memos; the irrelevant surveys; the rambling speeches; the uninspiring website/social media content; the numerous, inconsequential meetings; etc. - they all drain my time, disrupt my work and negate my perception of your effectiveness.



And I am not alone with this opinion. Other colleagues have realised that someone has to spell it out for you so that you would 'get' it.




What you need to 'get' is that your communications do not add any value to your operations or our work; neither do they address our wellbeing in your company. As a result, we have become disengaged and 'tuned off' in our duties. We are unhappy in our roles, unfulfilled in our functions and some of us have secretly begun to apply to your competitors for more meaningful jobs.




Having worked for you for a couple of years, I am surprised at your continued cluelessness. You are unaware that you aren’t rated highly and that your staff doesn’t feel ‘emotionally attached’ to the company.




Something needs to be done.




To keep us productive in our jobs, you will need to tackle these issues:





1) Your content 



There are many things that you, the Management, cannot control - the weather, a  slow economy, regulatory policies, etc. -  but the content you produce is not one of those things. 



This means that before you embark on a grand culture overhaul, an ambitious re-branding initiative or any other project, you’ll first need to identify the goals you want to achieve with your communications, then carefully select your content. 



Thereafter, ask yourselves one crucial question:



“What type of information would our employees care about?”



Note that unless the content adds value to my work, or addresses specific issues, or clarifies some ambiguity about your policies or strategies, I wouldn't care about it.




And neither would the others.



It wouldn't matter what bells and whistles you use or how often you harp on about your plans.



If the content isn’t useful, easily understood and delivered in a timely manner, then don't bother.




Really don't.



I am already sufficiently stressed in my role juggling multiple assignments and I don't appreciate your cronies, (aka executives), interrupting my workflow with meaningless babble or pretentious pieces.






Also, why don’t you use simple, clear language in all your communications? Eliminate your annoying management-speak which makes your executives the brunt of all our jokes. You can be sure that we won't take them seriously.
   




2) Sharing your content 



You probably read somewhere that the almighty email is the most desired method of communication. 



But please stop emailing us multiple times a week!  



The information overload is ridiculous!




While there may be  valuable tools to assess the effectiveness of your communications, simple actions also make a difference.



For example, providing the contact details of the designated executives allows us to quickly get clarifications.




Placing bullet points on notice boards, using the intranet, and encouraging information transfer via cloud-based systems, (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), are also useful ways of getting our attention without being a nuisance.



Free or low-cost internal social networks such as Thinbox and Yammer add a fun element to collaboration, so include them in your communication arsenal.








When your initiatives are significant and scheduled to run for a considerable period, you should become creative with the format of your content. Use images, videos, audio, etc.




Pique our interest and coax our participation by once again making all your  information relevant. It will be a bonus if you could highlight how our desired contributions will lead to the company's successes. We all want to be part of something meaningful.




Do these things and even a sceptic like me will be won over because I will clearly see the benefits of supporting your plans.


 

3) Your spokespeople 


You have often chosen the wrong people to communicate to your employees and to handle your initiatives.




Previous spokespeople although knowledgeable about their duties, weren't likeable. In fact, they were downright condescending. Not surprisingly, they lacked leadership skills and failed to inspire.



Being likeable is important because I am more inclined to trust an executive I like than one who appears aloof or arrogant.







Of course trust is gradually built over time by observing whether Mr. A's speeches consistently match his actions.




I will concede however that charisma and likeability are not enough.




It is also imperative that the spokesperson has regular training in media relations, as well as crisis communications drills.




Inside the organisation, the (likeable) spokesperson should be approachable, articulate, calm, and a reliable source of information. No cryptic messages or vague explanations please.




For external contacts, the spokesperson must be poised, credible and skilled in giving factual, timely feedback.




If you can't find a worthy candidate in-house dear Management, then please recruit from external sources.



But be assured that I would neither waste my time nor my energies on your executives whose weak interpersonal attributes, lacklustre communication skills and incompetence actually impede commitment to your organisation.  







Conclusion



So Management, despite my gloomy tone, I actually want to see you connect more with your staff. I do understand your vision and I 'get' your passion.





Nonetheless, should you want us to work together to achieve goals we both understand and appreciate, you’ll need to communicate more effectively by:



1) Developing content which adds value to your employees' work and addresses stated concerns. Content should also inspire;


2) Using creative methods to distribute content in simple, clear language, whilst remaining relevant;


3) Selecting competent, likeable professionals with managerial potential to handle communications in the organisation. Provide regular media and crisis management training for them as well.





Do these things and you needn't worry about dwindling productivity or a reduced commitment to key projects or talented staff leaving in droves. 








But change you must!





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N.B –  First and second images courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net. Third image courtesy of Cuteimage; via freedigitaphotos.net. Fourth image courtesy of Ddpavumba; via freedigitalphotos.net. Last image courtesy of Fotographic1980; via freedigitalphotos.net.