Ron Murray has dedicated his new book to all employees who ever felt left in the dark in the workplace. He explains how leaders can work to ensure their employees don’t feel that way.
Since I published Talking With Your People: A Roadmap to Achieve Better Employee Communications in the Corporate World (Murex Press, 2018), I’ve been asked many times who it’s for.
My short answer is: everyone who’s employed (or employable), since I feel there’s something in the book for anyone who spends time in a workplace.
But clearly an organisation’s management team stands to gain most from the learnings, given its members lead, manage, drive, or influence employee communications and have the greatest stake in the organisation running well and profitably.
So what is my message to the person at the top, and the team charged with running an organisation?
It’s in the title. First and foremost, top management needs to make the most of the opportunities to communicate face-to-face with employees. There should be ample opportunities in the working calendar for you to talk to staff about what’s important to them (and you) and to field their queries, openly and honestly.
That’s about the sort of meetings you run – team meetings and hopefully a regular all-company meeting. You may need to do some work there; sadly, poor meetings are a common ailment in organisations. At the very least a meeting should have a Purpose, an Agenda, a Chair and a Timekeeper (PACT for short).
The head of an organisation, in particular, should be visible and vocal for employees. That may set a few heads shaking – doesn’t he realise how busy I am? Truth is, the messages from the CEO, MD or GM do carry huge weight. Leadership runs on communications.
It may not be possible to meet and greet everyone but attendance at company meetings and contributing is a must. Pitching up on a video newsletter is another option if the workforce is highly dispersed. A regular, down-to-earth email to all employees also works very well – but make sure it is regular and personalised.
Second, talking with your people should include regularly asking them what information they want, how the existing comms channels are working and what their preferred way to receive information is – best done via a simple internal comms audit through survey monkey or a similar format. And make sure you act on what you find out.
Third, in your planning – corporate or departmental – build in an internal communications section and engage your internal comms adviser to develop the comms activities you need to have in place so employees know what’s going on.
Don’t leave it to chance or the last minute. This applies particularly to HR, but all departments have stuff happening they need to tell staff about. And have an excellent wordsmith on the team – crafting the communications so they’re clear and concise is half the battle.
Fourth, don’t ignore staff when you have something great and important you want to tell the outside world. Staff should be among the first to know – not read about it in the paper.
Finally, watch out for the wild moments. You need to increase your comms when the organisation is going through change or disruption. Put aside any plans to do a big values campaign at those times – except to emphasise one particular value: openness and honesty. Which is all about good communications.
I dedicated my book to all employees who ever felt left in the dark. There is a better way, but management have to lead in bringing light into the organisation. The payback will be happier staff, and happier staff = happy customer.
And we know what that means. M
Ron Murray is the author of Talking With Your People: A Roadmap to Achieve Better Employee Communications in the Corporate World (Murex Press, 2018). He has more than 20 years’ experience in corporate and marketing communications, sponsorship, and PR management, both in-house and agency and is currently a senior account director with Wright Communications.