Imagine you’re an employee. OK, not hard. And imagine that you’re getting a million emails about things that don’t really seem to matter, or pings on your collaboration platform about random, useless stuff you don’t really care about. Also, not hard because that’s mostly what people think of when they think of employee communications.
Spamming colleagues is not the same thing as communicating
Shoving information that you (or your boss, or HR, or IT, and so on) down people’s throats is not employee communications. I mean, it is, technically speaking, and that sure is the way most companies go about it, but it’s not really very helpful to anyone.
It’s kind of a waste of your time, because no one’s going to read or listen to what you’re saying, and you’ll probably just annoy them, and then they’ll be less likely to listen to you ever, ever, ever.
Why is this important?
Still people need to know stuff, right? Probably, so it will be really helpful to start by asking ‘why.’ In subsequent articles, we’ll explore how asking ‘why’ will affect what, how, and when you communicate, but for now, let’s keep it high-level…
Let’s say your CEO, or another senior leader in your company, has decided that people need to know about some changes to the business model. She’s preparing a long boring email, or thinking of doing an all-hands meeting to tell everyone.
Ask yourself ‘Why’ do people need to know about this change? At first, it might seem pretty obvious, because the CEO said so. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll be able to help her get the message out in a much more powerful way. One that cuts to the chase, and helps people understand why this change is important.
You are creating a ‘line of sight’
There is one really important reason why we communicate with employees -- we want and need them to understand how what they do every day at work helps the company achieve its big picture goals.
We want employees to have a clear line of sight from me, here in my role, doing my thing, to the phenomenal growth and success of the company as a whole. When people ‘get that,’ they are better, happier, more productive, innovative employees who can actually contribute to that phenomenal growth in a meaningful way. Cool, huh?
‘Why’ applies to everything in communications
It’s actually the same principle with all those (potentially) boring emails from HR or IT -- why are they important? Because usually they include some action that employees are supposed to take to help the company run better. ‘Do this, don’t do this, do more of this, go here, just so you know…’ Good communications should always have a ‘Call to Action.’
If you get in the habit of asking yourself why something is important? How does it fit into the big picture of our company’s success, it will shape your thinking about how to approach actually communicating whatever it is.
Think first, then communicate
Weird that there’s all this thinking about communications that has to happen way before you ever communicate anything, huh? Yup. That’s the really important part.
As your company grows, and as you grow in your role, you’ll want to create strategies and plans for what and how to communicate, but for the moment, it’s helpful to just start thinking strategically. It’s an easy way to start organizing and prioritizing employee communications in your brain.
It’s good for you to ask yourself ‘Why’ it’s important to communicate something, but be careful about asking your CEO ‘Why’ a lot of times. Sometimes it can be perceived as challenging or combative, two qualities CEOs generally aren’t crazy about. Over time, you will learn how to extract this information from them in a subtle, ninja-like way. Promise.
If you missed the first article in this series, you can check it out here!
This is an ongoing series, so stay tuned for the next installment.
Victoria Dew is the Founder and CEO of Dewpoint Communications.