Discussions about improving communication in organizations often begin with a focus on top-down formal communication – memos, employee publications, videos, the intranet, etc.
Communication is all of this – and more. It also encompasses technology, phone and email messages, conference room presentations, training, performance reviews, policy/procedure manuals, safety meetings, the casual banter around water coolers, in breakrooms, and around tables in the employee cafeteria, displays on bulletin boards and digital TV displays, financial forecasts, cash-flow and income statements.
The focus should be on disseminating information among people, not just to them. This is about managing communication as a business process that brings clarity and builds shared meaning by spanning and weaving its way throughout the organization’s other processes.
When communication is managed well, decisions and actions happen in ways that help business succeed. Advancing business strategy is really about managing all the things people in the organization do to help fulfill the brand promise.
- Line of sight requires intense, ongoing communication so that people can see a direct line between the organization’s goals and the work that they do.
- Involvement is the component of the communication process that gives people the means to influence the organization. It encompasses team systems, process redesign efforts, and keeping score together. This includes the means through which people’s ideas for improving business results are generated, captured, prioritized, analyzed, and implemented. Without communications, no one’s involved.
- Information sharing is essentially the bridge that helps people move from understanding goals and how to influence them to making smart decisions aligned with those goals. The information must be accurate and timely.
- Rewards and recognition in the communication process can include short-term incentives, broad-based success sharing programs, celebration events, long-term wealth-building programs, opportunities to learn, and open paths for career advancement and growth. These should communicate what’s important and what’s not; what we choose to recognize communicates what we value. This is necessary to answer the questions “What’s in it for me?” and “How will I benefit if I do things that will help our business succeed?”
Ultimately, communication should provide unwavering evidence that the organization believes in and recognizes the value of its people. Let me know your thoughts and feedback. I'd love to know how you activate programs to connect people to the business strategy in your organization. I'm happy to collaborate with you on content for Part 2 of this topic -- maybe we can plan to post additional parts, too.