As a business consultant and corporate communication strategist, I consider myself lucky. Before leaving the C-suite and going into my own practice, I was fortunate to work for a corporation who believed good communication was paramount to their success. I was able to see how consistent, relevant and engaging communication can rally employees, foster pride and drive results. I saw how we put theory into practice, and it worked.
We were able to make the list of FORTUNE’s 100 Best Places to Work and surpassed all anticipated business results in terms of revenue, customer engagement and corporate citizenship. Our efforts were not always perfect, but we did a pretty good job of delivering a unified message that helped build a cohesive culture.
While there are many factors and tactics that go into leveraging communication to achieve results, here are a few best practices:
- Let leaders lead it
Your leadership team must be on board. They are responsible for informing and engaging their team members of the news, initiative or change. Their commitment to being the “megaphones” for the communication will guarantee success.
- Tune into all channels
Everyone has different communication preferences. Some people like to hear it, some people like to see it and others like to feel it. Be sure to deliver the same message in multiple ways.
The majority of us take in information visually, using this as our primary channel. Visual forms of organizational communication might be newsletters, intranets, promotional posters and internal merchandising.
Hearing the message is also essential and it can take forms such as podcasts, broadcast voicemails, presentations at staff meetings, etc.
This type of communication covers opportunities where employees can experience the communication in a physical way such as training exercises, games or contests.
We use all three channels while maintaining a preference for one. As a communicating organization, be sure to relay your message using each channel.
- Mirror the way your employees communicate outside work
Today people are used to fast, direct, continuous communication. We get news easily and quickly — through all sorts of digital formats such as blogs, podcasts, videos and social media — and we can access it when we want it.
The challenge for corporations today is that “news” tends to be milestone driven. Communications around announcements, appointments and new initiatives are often planned well in advance. Those communications are important, but what happens in between those milestones? Often, corporate communications goes “dark,” employees hold their breath until the next major announcement and you hear complaints about not enough communication. Corporate communications work best when tools like social media, Skype, responsive design intranets, augmented reality apps and more are available.
- Co-create with employees
Get employees involved to help you determine the best communication vehicles. They will guide you to what will work and what you want. By co-creating communications with employees, you increase your relevancy and buy-in substantially.
While we want to leverage technology, face-to-face forums between leaders and teams are essential. One CEO I know conducts monthly “coffee and conversation” sessions with small groups of employees. He orders coffee and they all sit around and chat. There might be a focus to the conversation or it may be free form, but the casual environment usually produces great ideas and insights. Face-to-face meetings also demonstrate a leader’s commitment and help to build trust and credibility.
Great communication will deliver great results. Start today.
Mari Pat Varga works with businesses and individuals who want to differentiate through strategic communication to be seen, heard and sought out in the crowded marketplace. Learn more by visiting her website.