Missed part one of this essay? Catch up here.
When you are shaping your internal communications, the same best practices apply as writing any piece of content: who is your audience, what is your goal and how are you providing value while developing trust with your reader.
We’ll talk about “top-down” communications in this piece. That’s the content that comes from leadership. Here are the key traits you want to develop in your communications as you inform your team of on-going changes.
Know yourself and your goals.
What are your company’s core values? What are its goals? Integrate what will remain the same, or how the changes reinforce and support the company mission. If there is a culture change afoot, explain how things will be different and why.
Be considerate, meaningful, and genuine.
Ask yourself and your leaders what impact your team members experience as a result of the changes — operationally, financially, personally…interpersonally. How will teams and individuals fit into the changes?
Note those impacts, and address them in your communications.
Deliver clarity and transparency.
People are more likely to get onboard if they are treated with respect, and they see the reasoning behind the decisions. Share your business intelligence and clarify how that information links to your mission. What are your expectations of the team? Provide (and communicate) structure and support your people for success.
Make updates regular and timely.
Foster the expectation that you will be forthcoming with updates and feedback. Surprises are for birthdays, not for major life changes. Put your team communications on a schedule and hold yourself to it. Your people will come to know they can expect an on-going stream and trust you all the more for it.
Think about the timing of the information you are sharing. Are you prepared to follow up with updates or lack of update, and to handle the questions that follow? Are you being transparent while at the same time taking care not to overburden your team with too much information?
Say thank you.
Recognize the challenges, the sacrifices (family impacts, disruption, comfort zone bursting). Share the tangible results and accomplishments that result from the team’s rally.
Who has been instrumental in your recent positive change or who has helped you go through the challenges — whether it’s teams or individuals, take time to recognize those contributions in a way that is beneficial and meaningful to them.
Loop it back!
Feedback is your friend. (Constructive) feedback/rich environments are where truly cohesive teams emerge. Establish a means for the team to ask questions, share information to you from the ground. You’ll gain critical insight, and your team will be heard — it’s a base requirement that is directly related to performance and positive associations.
Communicating uncomfortable change can be hard. Positive change can come with challenges too, especially if there is confusion from half-baked communication, or parts of your team are going to meet new challenges without the support or resources they need.
The good news is that a people-first communication strategy primes you for better understanding between you and your team, and the opportunity to course-correct as you receive feedback.
And the ultimate result of people-first communications? Employees who understand and buy into your mission, stronger engagement, and a vibrant, intact corporate culture. Here’s to your growth!