Friday, June 22, 2012

'DIS' Engagement - where communications come in

Anand's blog post this week on 'DIS' Engagement reminds us that communication is the glue that binds the HR policies, the organization and the people together.

He touches on communications in his section on "D" - disconnection. Here's a bit more about how communications will add to removing the "DIS".

First, consider your employees as your ambassadors and advocates, not just as recipients of updates and bulletins. Those unaffected directly by any particular policy should still be briefed on what's going on. They can help explain the changes to others, including those outside.

Next, today's communications environment moves too quickly to manage as we used to. Lids can't be kept on things. People will Tweet, post and share information the second they've left the office or the briefing room. It's naive to expect them not to. So the trick is to consider, plan for and understand how these news channels will work and then package your communications to take advantage of that momentum. It's a bit like communications judo: use the momentum of their communications to carry your message.

Next, set context, a never forget the positive business objectives. There always is a bigger picture, and survival and growth are equally legitimate alternative objectives.

Next, be clear, concise and cogent. Often. "Often" means different channels, as well as more than once. People absorb information differently, from short bursts of information to more reflective reading, and from listening to someone to reading words.

Next, don't forget the emotional component of communications. Effective communications means facts plus emotion. We all know that a data sheet or a PowerPoint presentation never quite do the trick. The authenticity, passion, and personal elements all play their parts.

Finally, create value, then help people find it. If you have great news to impart, a new project for example, create a new section of your web site devoted to this project, so that employees can readily find the updates. The same tactic applies for bad news too. Consider having a crisis web site in readiness (and firmly under cyber lock and key) so that you're ready to go should the need arise. This preparedness also helps you think through the pre-crisis comms that can help carry the day.

You can overwhelm employees with communication. But done effectively, you can never over-inform them.

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