What’s the best way to communicate with your employees? Trick question. There is no one best way.
There is a way to make it better. Follow these seven employee communication principles in all your communication.
1. Be transparent
Employees shouldn’t have to sniff around for what’s going on. It’s too easy to assume employees don’t care when they do.
It’s even worse to start with a presumption that employees shouldn’t know. Instead act as if employees are key stakeholders in your enterprise, and they have a right to know everything.
Then, if you don’t want to share something, the burden’s on you to prove why they shouldn’t know.
2. Be honest
Telling people the truth, even if it is going to be unpopular, is better than not telling them at all or lying about the current state of things.
Need an example, consider some of the early messaging around Covid. How did that work out?
3. Use plain language
If you have something important to communicate, it won’t get through if people don’t understand what the heck you’re trying to say.
Sure, knowing and using all the cool jargon and acronyms might make you look leading edge and in the know, but it just doesn’t enable understanding, especially when the recipients think they ought to know. In those cases they definitely won’t ask.
Think about your audiences, the smaller the better. The Finance Team is better than all employees. Accounts Payable is better than the Finance Team. And Joe is better than Accounts Payable.
If you goal is to communicate with each person, you need to think about each person and then cater to each person’s information preferences.
5. Pick the right channel
There are so many channel choices these days. One-on-one, in-person conversations, email, Teams channels, webinars, video, all-staff meetings, etc.
Each channel has advantages and disadvantages.
The most common mistake is using digital communication when a message should have been delivered in person.
And then repeat some more. There’s a lot of noise. People are good at filtering and ignoring.
This is hard for me to do. I’m always worried people are going to think I forgot I already said something.
Here’s the thing. It’s more likely they are going to have forgotten the message or never heard it in the first place.
If you need proof, just look at how much money advertisers spend repeating a commercial over and over and over. That’s not accidental.
7. Be human
It’s okay to show some empathy and even vulnerability in your messaging.
If you want people to trust the message, they need to trust you and it’s easier to do so when you sound like a real person.