Karen Dempster shares her thoughts on what and how to communicate with your employees to achieve organisational success. Karen is speaking at the CIPD Employee Experience Conferences, 11-12 December in London. Book your ticket today.
The way an organisation communicates with employees sets the tone for the organisation’s culture and the morale, motivation and performance of employees. Good communication, particularly when role modelled by leaders and managers, can build trust and create commitment and job satisfaction. 85% of our success is, in fact, related to how well we communicate. The employee communication opportunity is not one to be missed.
In this article, I share a few thoughts about both what and how to communicate with employees to achieve organisational success.
Understand what to communicate
We are bombarded by information, whether at work or in our home lives. To create communication that delivers success, we need to deliver messages that really matter to our reader, not just to the sender. Information needs to be relevant and to connect with the reader’s motivations and recognise their challenges.
We need to understand our audience, even when communicating with thousands of people. One effective approach is to develop ‘personas’ for major groups of people with similar communication characteristics. For example, we may have a group of people who work virtually and are often out on the road with customers and need certain information in a certain way or people who work shifts in distribution or call centres. Define the persona groups and then talk to people in these areas to build an understanding of:
- Their daily work life: What is their role? Where and how do they work? What changes are happening around them? What knowledge and tools do they use? Who do they report and relate to and respect?
- How they engage with information: Who communicates with them or where do they get information to do their jobs? How do they hear about urgent and ‘nice to know’ news? What do they read/consume either to learn or socially outside of work?
- Their motivations and challenges: What makes them feel good about work and what gets them up in the morning? What slows them down and worries them work-wise?
- How best to listen and generate ideas: Understand how the persona groups currently share their ideas and if they would like to share ideas more. Do they feel listened to? Who listens to them who they trust?
- Their social behaviours: Are there certain places they like to go at lunchtime or for coffee? What is the average age and are their common interests? What languages do they speak? Are there words and phrases that they don’t like?
Create a visual representation of each persona group and make it a visible reminder for those writing content for these audiences. Share the personas with leaders to help them to communicate in ways that are simple, succinct, relevant and connect successfully.
How we communicate really matters
We don’t all like to receive information in the same way. Consider, for example, the four DISC personality profiles. These outline behavioural types that we all fall into, each differing in how we see the world, how we listen and how we can be influenced. For example, consider:
- The Dominant characters: They want information fast and are focused on results, preferring bullet points and getting to the point quickly. They will share their views readily and sometimes very directly.
- The Influencers: They like conversations and information to be engaging and interactive. They may prefer visual communication and being able to contribute creative ideas.
- The Supporters: They want to focus on the people aspects and to know things are fair. They will only share their views if they feel ‘safe’.
- The Conscientious ones: They want facts, evidence and detail and, ideally, before a meeting, so they can reflect before having to share their views. They appreciate the space to talk amongst their more outgoing colleagues.
We can share content in ways that appeal to these different types of people to ensure our message gets through. Importantly, we need to know if we are successful so set SMART communication objectives and measure whether messages have got through with the right impact.
I look forward to sharing more insights into how to ensure employee communication achieves organisational success at the CIPD Employee Engagement Conference on 11 December.
Karen Dempster is presenting ‘How to: Create employee communication that delivers organisational success‘ at the CIPD Employee Experience Conferences, 11-12 December in London. Book your ticket today.