In my last blog, I talked about the importance of communicating your strategic planning framework to employees at all levels of the organization. And not just once, but over and over again so that people never lose sight of the goals. I also noted that most employees prefer to hear this information directly from their boss or manager.
But face-to-face communication is not the only method for keeping people informed about where you are going and what you need to do to get there. Smart leaders use a variety of communication tools and methods to keep their most important messages top of mind with employees throughout the year.
Start by setting up a system to remind managers to discuss the goals and strategic planning framework elements with employees on a regular basis. Provide tools and templates managers and team leaders can use in monthly team meetings and in one-on-one conversations. This will take care of the face-to-face communication that employees want and need.
To complement this personal communication, develop some creative ways to keep information in front of everyone. For example:
- Include elements of the strategic planning framework in newsletters, e-mail messages, on your intranet, and within presentations used at team and company meetings.
- Look for things employees use on a daily basis and find ways to turn them into ongoing communication vehicles. Put your mission and values on notepads, paper cubes, and/or mouse pads.
- Develop table tent cards for the cafeteria tables, posters for public areas in the offices, and screen savers that list the company’s three most important strategic objectives.
- Use paycheck stuffers to remind employees of the goals and update them on progress made towards those goals.
- Post a blog on the company intranet that explains your view of the goals and why they are important. Also, use the intranet to highlight examples of people who have achieved significant progress toward the goals and/or performed in a way that “lives” the company’s values.
- Use Twitter to send daily or weekly “tweets” — short, concise reminders of what employees need to focus on or what winning looks like for your organization.
In addition to communicating with current employees on a consistent basis, make sure all new hires receive information about the strategic framework as part of their introduction to the company. For those components of your strategic framework that may change more frequently (such as operating metrics and significant initiatives), update all employees every time there is a change. In addition to what is changing, tell people why.
There is almost no limit to the simple things you can do to communicate the most important messages in the company. Change it up every month so that people don’t tune out your messages because they look like the “same old stuff” they always see. But just keep doing it!
I have yet to see an organization that over-communicates its goals. Instead we start running, and in our busy-ness forget that others aren’t privy to all we are exposed to. When a change becomes evident and employees have not been informed, they are much more likely to fill the void with negative information, which is typically far worse than the truth.
Pausing to communicate frequently will save hours attempting to correct the myths, half-truths, and inaccurate information that spring up when you don’t communicate enough. More important, it will increase understanding of and commitment to the goals you and your management team worked so hard to create.
What are some ways you keep employees informed?