AB Thinks  →  10th April 2019

The human factor

Over the past few years, the performance of internal communication (IC) has been assessed in a number of reviews such as Gatehouse’s State of the Sector, highlighting areas of weaknesses in our profession, particularly the need to be more strategic.

Despite this, there is no shortage of important issues our businesses are asking us to address. Ethics, diversity and inclusion, risk management, change, quality assurance, security, profit and, of course, Brexit to name but a few. This is on top of business as usual. It’s clear, while there may be a need for some IC functions to take a more strategic approach, the need for good IC has never been greater.

So where do we start?

I have worked with a number of organisations on their communication challenges, really getting under the skin of what’s causing them. While each case is different, I’ve noticed a common thread – many organisations forget how to speak to their people.

Employees care about what working in an organisation means for them, what it means for their future, what’s relevant to them and how their role fits into the bigger picture. In short, we need to always remember the basics. To land any message, the content needs to reflect what matters to employees. It needs to be human, snappy and engaging.

Here are five tips to give your comms more impact

#1 Bring your message to life
No matter how important the message, some topics are just dry. If you really want employees to take away the message, bring it to life with real case studies and real people. Your business is full of the great stories, use them.

#2 Be transparent where possible
Try not to be afraid of mistakes. People aren’t clueless, and with so much information available externally, it’s likely they’ll find out the truth. If there’s an issue that has an impact on people and forecasts – try to share what happened and why, the lessons learned and how the organisation plans to move forward.

#3 Less is more
Go easy on your reader. Consider how much information everyone has to absorb in an average day. Think about breaking down a message into smaller bite-size chunks. If you scan an email you should be able to get something from it, if not re-write it. Avoid large blocks of text and focus on your sub heading, key takeaways and summaries. Likewise avoid jargon. Keep it simple.

#4 Segment your audience
Graduates have a different communication needs to experienced hires and long-serving employees. Avoid sending the same content to everyone. Instead, segment your audience and tailor your message to the needs of each group.

#5 To engage real people, use real people
We may live in a digital era but the power of face-to-face is more important than ever. From informal ambassadors, strategically placed for programme sponsorship and organised events, to employee advocates don’t underestimate the importance of in-person communication in your channels mix.

To find out how AB can help with your comms challenges contact Daniel.lambie@abcomm.co.uk

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