Communication is critical for the success of any organisation. If you think about the various stakeholder groups that have an interest in an organisation's performance it does not take too much imagination to understand that communicating effectively with those stakeholder groups matters. This section however confines itself to just one of those stakeholder groups - employees.
In the section on Motivation we explain the importance of ensuring that jobs are meaningful and interesting. It matters a lot. In order for a person's job to be meaningful and interesting they must feel 'connected' to the organisation that they serve. A big part of this connection comes through effective communication. That means knowing what's going on, and also being listened to.
It's absolutely true to say that 'being in the know is motivational'.
It's not easy to explain exactly why connected employees feel better about their work and the usual trawl of the Internet struggles to come up with any precise psychological reasons. But we can say with certainty that human beings need that sense of connectivity in order to give of their best, without it we would be mere robots!
We also know that the demand for being 'in the know' is increasing - particularly amongst millenials who are hungry for information, impatient for it and are used to being connected 24/7. The thought of their employer not fulfilling their idea of what good communication looks like is dangerous.
'Being in the know is motivational'
Good communication does not happen by accident. But before you get busy with a plan you need to be clear on the desired outcomes. Here are some ideas that you could adapt and use in your thinking:
Employees should understand the mission and our plans to achieve it.
Employees should understand how we are doing against those plans.
Employees should be made aware of any plans, developments or news that may affect the organisation, whether good or bad, and of our own making or not. The organisation will comment swiftly as appropriate.
Employees should have simple and effective ways in which their opinions and ideas will be sought and heard.
Employees should come to rely on the organistion as the most trusted source of information about itself and its business.
The communication plan
Having decided on the outcomes that you want, you are now in a position to consider what you are going to do and how. You need to think about:
What will we communicate
How often will we communicate
How will we communicate
Clearly you will need to give some thought as to what types of message are best suited to the different communication methods available. Here is an example of what you might do:
Every two months:
Hard copy newsletter featuring updates on performance, progress against goals, features on various aspects of the business etc.
Departmental 'camp fire' get together where departmental people (not neccesarily managers) deliver brief updates (two minutes each) on issues relevant to the department. Staff are invited to nominate subjects for discussion ahead of the get together, as well as comment and ask questions.
Departmental or team 'huddle' to discuss issues arising. Small groups chaired by the departmental manager or supervisor concerned.
The explosion in the use of social media has to be considered here. Many people clearly embrace social media in their personal lives and more and more companies are now using Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) to connect employees and assist communication, ideas sharing, project work and the like. Clearly this can be a powerful internal communication tool for those organisations with the scale and budget to deploy it. That said, there is evidence to suggest that uptake of these tools by employees is rather less than hoped for.
Your communication policy
It is important to publish your communication policy to staff so that everyone knows what to expect and when. Publishing it also puts pressure on the organisation's leadership to keep its promises and make sure that the policy is indeed adhered to. It doesn't need to be complicated - a reasonable policy followed is much better than a grand scheme that quickly gets abandoned. In this context 'wonderful' may well be the enemy of 'good'.
See the attached for a sample communication policy.
Sample communication policy