If you've spent any time with consultants from large firms
(especially in the '90's), then you heard some of the buzz
words and phrases heard in offices across the U.S.; phrases
such as get our arms around this, paradigm shift,
reinvent the wheel, and any verbing of a noun (such as "incent") was typically heard in many conference rooms.
Many of these phrases were not meaningful to those who heard
them. Employees need to understand the phrases of management
before they believe it. And they need to believe it before
they will do something about it.
In coaching, a basic question is, "What's important?"
Employees who don't hear or understand what is really
important will decide for themselves what's important
and will act and work accordingly.
The management of a large department store thought they
communicated to their employees that the most important
part of their job was customer service. However, upon
surveying the salespeople, they found that a majority of the employees
believed their most important task was protecting the
inventory. Why did they think so? Because they received
many memos from management regarding loss of inventory
and security. Communications about customer service were
not nearly as numerous.
Is there a system in place at your business (for the
company or the department) in which employees are
informed about the goals of the business and how their
job helps the company reach those goals? Do they know
how they will be rewarded for their contribution?
Do they understand it?
Do they believe it?
Will they take action?
Clear communication is a must and a key to that action.
It involves knowing your audience, having a strategy,
clarifying steps, and measuring the results.
Know your Audience
Who are your people? What will they respond to positively?
Find out what they consider to be relevant. If it doesn't
match what you consider to be relevant, then take time to
re-shape relevancy and the company. Whom do they believe
is credible when that person communicates? How do they
respond to various types of communication?
Have a Strategy
Strategize a communications plan to emphasize
"what's important". Rather than simply send out memos,
brochures, and fliers to tell people stuff, plan your
strategy first. Does it make sense? Does it clearly
emphasize what you're wanting to communicate?
Clarify the Steps
Is there some action that you want employees to take?
Make certain that within your strategy there are places
where action steps are clearly defined. Keep the level
of English at a grade level that makes sense for the
audience. For example, for a general audience that has
a wide-range, a 7th grade to 8th grade level is good.
(Most newspapers are written at this level. Microsoft
Word will tell you the grade level of your writing in
"Readability Statistics" at the end of the spell check
routine as "Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level", if you turn on
Communicate the benefits of the actions you want the
employees to take. This includes both the benefits to
the company or department and the benefits to the
Measure the Results
How did you do in your communications effort? Have someone
create a survey that draws out the results (the raw truth).
Did employees understand it?
Did they believe it?
Do they still believe it?
Did they take action?
Was it appropriate action?
The responses will measure how your communications helped
to change behavior and, in some circumstances, if
performance improved (if that was a goal).
In conclusion, following this outline of knowing your audience, having
a communication strategy, clarifying the steps with your
audience, and measuring the results, will ensure that
your communications plan gives you the results you
© 2005 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Glory Borgeson is a business coach and consultant, and the president of
Borgeson Consulting, Inc. She specializes in helping small business owners
(of 500 employees or less) to increase their Entrepreneurial IQ, which
leads to increased profit and decreased stress. Whether an entrepreneur is at the top
of his game like any top athletes you can think of today, or a rookie just
starting his business, Glory works with the entire spectrum of entrepreneur.
Top athletes have a coach; why not you? Click here for Borgeson Consulting, Inc. This article was originally published in The Business Express, Borgeson's
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