Employees are drowning in information but thirsting for clarity and purpose. They are confronted with a daily deluge of e-mails, voicemails, memos, meetings, PowerPoint presentations, teleconferences, spreadsheet reports, instructions from supervisors, workplace conversations and the never-ending din of the rumor mill. Employees are awash in formal communications including company newsletters, intranets and corporate videos. They are attuned to value messages an organization sends through its working conditions, employee benefits offerings, policies and procedures, and unwritten rules. The messages that employees receive often lack clear direction, prioritization and context, and they are sometimes contradictory to the organization’s value messages.
What employees want to understand is where their organizations are trying to go, how they are trying to get there and what their role is in helping their organizations succeed. To be actively engaged in the success of their organizations, employees need to understand what to do and why they are being asked to do it. They want to be communicated with, not just communicated to, and they want to feel a sense of shared purpose and shared commitment.
Employees don’t need more communications (with an “s”) where the focus is on using tactical channels to deliver messages, but they do need more employee communication (without the “s”) where the focus is on using effective strategies to deliver meaning and purpose. Employees need communication that’s clear, concise, consistent, coordinated, credible and compelling. They need their organizations to be open and honest, and to communicate the business rationale for difficult decisions. They need organizations that value employees and are committed to communicating to them effectively.
Communication strategies for employees should focus on “influence-and-include,” not on “command-and-control.” Employees need a communication structure that allows for transparent top-down communication from leaders, meaningful bottom-up feedback from employees, and free-flowing peer-to-peer communication among the entire workforce. Employee communicators can enable the conversations that allow organizations to uncover and leverage untapped knowledge from within their own workforce and achieve maximum effectiveness.
Employee communication is not about telling employees what to think; it’s about creating and enabling authentic, ongoing dialogues with and between them. Employee communication professionals can help organizations replace ineffective management communication models that are rooted in the Industrial Age with new approaches that are better suited for Digital Age technologies and Millennial mindsets.
Organizations increasingly need effective employee communication to stay competitive. The opportunities for employee communicators have never been greater and the possibilities have never been more exciting.
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