Anne Bibb, CEO of Remote Evolution™, empowers businesses in the digital age and is a Future of Work & CX Influencer, speaker, and writer.
I recently had the privilege to present at a customer experience conference where I emphasized the profound impact an intentional investment in employee experience can have on a company’s growth trajectory. However, achieving this exponential growth relies on a well-structured internal communication strategy. Recognizing the limitations of a universal approach, it becomes crucial to consider vital elements such as generational differences.
A Practical Launchpad For Your Communication Strategy
Today’s workforce spans five distinct generations. Each group, from the silent generation (born between 1925 to 1945) to Generation Z (born after 2001), has unique communication needs and expectations.
For example, a recent tech startup I worked with struggled with communication issues primarily due to the generational spread within its workforce. We first conducted an exhaustive audit of their current communication channels. This process gave us an in-depth understanding of their existing modes of communication effectiveness, such as emails, internal messaging apps and team meetings. We identified which channels served them well, which remained underused or ineffective and where we could introduce new communication methods.
Armed with this information, we formulated a strategy that resonated with each generational group within the startup. For example, we discovered that the Millennials in the team favored digital communication channels for their flexibility and remote accessibility. At the same time, the Baby Boomers gravitated toward traditional methods like email and face-to-face meetings.
Thus, we adopted a hybrid communication model, incorporating both digital and conventional methods. We introduced regular video meetings for detailed discussions requiring a personal touch and used efficient messaging apps for day-to-day communications. Throughout this process, transparency and respect for individuality remained our guiding principles.
We communicated openly with the entire team about the changes and the reasoning behind them and solicited feedback to ensure our new strategy met their needs. Furthermore, we tailored the communication model to accommodate each group’s unique needs and preferences. This respect for individuality yielded an effective communication strategy and significantly improved EX.
Identifying When Your Communication Strategy Needs A Reboot
There are tell-tale signs a company should look for to determine whether its communication strategy needs reassessment. These signs include constant miscommunication, declining employee engagement and increasing conflict among team members.
I recall one client whose communication strategy served them well initially but began to show cracks over time. Miscommunications became frequent, with misunderstood instructions and misinterpreted messages. We also observed a dip in employee engagement. The typically buzzing group chat was quiet, attendance at optional company events dwindled and a general sense of enthusiasm seemed to be missing. Clearly, the team felt less connected and informed than they should be. Furthermore, we noted a surge in avoidable conflicts. Minor misunderstandings were snowballing into significant disputes due to poor communication. This issue was most notable in interdepartmental projects.
We quickly assembled a cross-functional task force to dissect the issues and redesign a clear communication strategy. We gathered employee feedback across all levels and analyzed existing communication processes. By addressing these warning signs proactively, we revamped the communication strategy to improve clarity, boost engagement and mitigate conflicts, which resulted in a more harmonious and productive work environment.
A Collaborative Ownership Of The Communication Plan
While advising various organizations, I’ve found that the communication plan’s ownership typically falls within the purview of the human resources department or a dedicated internal communications team, if one exists. However, the responsibility extends beyond these units.
I once worked with a mid-sized manufacturing company whose HR department was at the forefront of the communication plan’s development and management. The HR team diligently crafted strategies and messages to resonate with the diverse workforce. Yet, despite their best efforts, the plan failed to achieve the desired impact.
The missing piece was clear upon further investigation: active participation and endorsement from the leadership team. Leaders play a critical role in executing a communication plan. Without their visible support and engagement, even the most thoughtfully crafted plan can fall short.
We worked in unison with the HR department to effectively involve the leadership team. We educated the leaders on the significance of their role in internal communications and provided them with training on effectively conveying messages and facilitating open dialogue within their teams. We also encouraged the HR department to include the leaders in the planning process. This inclusion provided valuable insights that helped shape the communication strategy and fostered a sense of ownership among the leaders. They transitioned from being mere information conduits to active participants. With the leadership team fully engaged in the communication plan, the company experienced improvements in message reception, employee engagement and overall morale.
This experience highlighted a lesson: While a specific department might officially own the communication plan, its successful execution is a collective responsibility. It demands the involvement, cooperation and commitment of everyone, especially the leadership team.
The Power Of A Personalized Internal Communications Strategy
You can start a journey toward cultivating an engaged and efficient workforce by evaluating your current methodologies, actively listening to your employees’ needs and feedback and making necessary adjustments.
Remember to never underestimate the power of a personalized internal communications strategy. It’s not just about implementing general procedures; it’s about understanding your workforce’s specific communication needs, challenges and dynamics. By delving beyond surface-level patterns and statistics, you can create an environment where each employee feels seen, understood and included.
While charting a course for a strategy that truly serves your organization might seem daunting, it can become achievable with guidance and dedication.
So, if you’re committed to enhancing your EX through improved communication, now is the time to kick-start your journey. Start by evaluating your current practices, actively listening to your employees and being ready to make necessary adjustments. Today marks the beginning of an engaged and efficient workforce.
Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?
Read the full article here