Not Just ‘What’ but ‘Why’

internal communications strategy

The Six Cs, listed in our previous post, are necessary for good internal communications, but internal communications professionals have an opportunity to go even further by telling employees why they are doing what they are doing. To achieve maximum productivity from the workforce, an organization must communicate to employees the “what” and the “why” and then demonstrate how an employee’s individual role contributes to the organization’s overall success. The “why” doesn’t have to be a lengthy explanation. Sometimes, it is as simple as adding a clause to a directive. For example, instead of writing “Remove the product from the shelf immediately,” you could add, “Due to a manufacturer’s safety recall, remove the product from the shelf immediately.”

When I first came to PetSmart in 2001 as the first-ever internal communications director, I was told that Store Managers were “too busy to hear the why — just tell them what to do.” It took a while, but eventually, working with the Store Operations team, we were able to show that the “why” doesn’t have to be a lengthy explanation. Sometimes, it is as simple as adding a clause to a directive. For example, instead of writing “Remove the product from the shelf immediately,” you could add, “Due to a manufacturer’s safety recall, remove the product from the shelf immediately.”

By letting frontline employees in on the “why” you will begin to engage them more actively in the “what.” And combined with the 6 Cs, you can take your internal communications to a whole new level.

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