Do Your Employees Know What’s Going On?

I’m often surprised that the most overlooked audience when it comes to communicating with key constituents is the internal or employee audience. Companies are generally pretty good about recognizing that they need to communicate with customers and prospects, but employees tend to be an afterthought. This may be because of the assumption that since employees are part of the organization they somehow “know” what’s going on. After all, it was in the newsletter wasn’t it?

The fact of the matter, though, is that companies can’t leave it to chance that employees are paying attention to the messages they’re sending, or that they understand which are the key messages that they should be paying attention to.

Getting employees on board with the right messages is important. They can serve as valuable – and very cost-effective – communication ambassadors. And, because of their relationship with the organization as “insiders,” their comments and viewpoints have a significant amount of credibility with the “outside world.”

In addition to the impact employees can have on external audiences, ensuring that employees know the goals, direction and performance of the company they work for will help them focus their efforts in alignment with those goals and objectives. Employees who feel uninformed spend a lot of time worrying, gossiping and, often, jumping to inaccurate conclusions. Informed employees are productive employees.

Some communication is better than none. But to be most effective, companies should take a strategic approach to employee communication which includes the following steps:

  1. Identify the key messages you feel employees need to know both to ensure their top performance and to ensure that they can be positive ambassadors for your organization.
  2. Determine what they currently know or believe about these key messages. In other words, what areas of misconception exist? What areas may they feel less positive about than you would like (e.g. their benefits? the quality of your company’s products?). Without a clear idea of the real issues you risk communicating about the wrong issues or even raising issues that might not have existed in the employees’ mind.
  3. Prioritize the areas where you’d like to have impact. Perhaps your top three areas are: raise awareness and perception of value of total compensation package, educate employees about how Product X is differentiated from the competitors’ product, educate employees about company’s environmental activities. Then…
  4. Develop strategies focused on the areas you’ve identified and…
  5. Develop and implement tactics to address those strategies and…
  6. Monitor and measure results.

The process is obviously much simplified here, but these are basically the steps: What do your employees need to know to help further the objectives of the organization? What do they currently know? How can you get them from where they are now to where you’d like them to be?

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