Helping others to communicate has always been a core part of any communications team. But significant and fundamental changes in the work environment has meant that doing so is now more important than ever before.
Greater organizational complexity means that employees must now navigate formal and informal reporting relationships to gather information, make decisions, and coordinate their work with others. Working is now far more interdependent as well; employees must work with and through others to accomplish tasks they could once do solely with their own team. And, finally employees must sift through and make sense of overwhelming quantities of information.
Three Steps to Take
It’s no surprise then that in this highly integrated environment one way or top down communication is no longer sufficient. Instead, comms teams need shift their focus to motivating and helping employees to share information and ideas through their own networks. Three steps will help.
Access to information: Too often managers communicate strategic information at too high a level. Instead, they should communicate in a way that provides employees with the information and organizational context necessary to teach and learn from each other.
The comms team at one large packaged foods company in CEB’s networks uses a “needs assessment process” to help managers focus on sharing information that employees need and that will help them make decisions that support corporate strategy.
Dialogue enablement: To help build the confidence of managers to carry on a dialogue with their teams, comms teams should provide facilitation tools and opportunities to practice with and learn from one another.
Another comms team in CEB’s networks uses “dialogue prep sessions: to help managers prepare for “critical and curious” questions and simulate conversations they could soon be having with their teams.
Positive reinforcement: Communications teams should consistently motivate staff to share messages among their own networks, and encourage them talk about and collaborate to achieve work objectives.
The comms team at an insurance firm in CEB’s networks use a web-based platform that enables employees to share their personal experiences of how they responded to and implemented corporate strategy.