A study by Redefining Communications found that 30% of employees say they don’t have enough information about their company or department. And only 3% said they had too much.
If employees are hungry for company information, why do HR departments struggle to get their attention? Why do important messages go unnoticed?
It’s an issue with delivery. The same study shows a lot depends on who’s delivering the message and how well they deliver it.
The COVID-19 crisis reminds us of this: More than any other source, employees look to managers and colleagues for trusted, accurate information about the company and their jobs. But information does not equal communication, so arming managers with flyers and emails won’t help you.
Information Does Not Equal Communication
Few people would dispute the importance of managers in the communications stream. If you have a large segment of employees on the factory floor, they listen to their line managers and floor supervisors. Or, if your company supports a tele-workforce, those employees look to their department heads.
OK, so good…managers are the best channel. You can easily send them the information you need to communicate. But how well can they communicate?
In their 2020 State of the Sector, Gatehouse published revealing data about the main barriers to successful internal communications:
- Poor line manager communication skills
- Hard-to-reach employees
- Volume of communication too high
In this list, the last two could be addressed by fixing the first — train your managers to communicate better. Today 24% are shown to be poor communicators, and 52% are merely adequate. Yet of the 39% of companies that provide communications training, it’s mainly geared toward senior executives.
But who talks more with those hard-to-reach employees? Executives or line managers?
Training Doesn’t Have to Be a Budget Buster
Communications training runs the gamut in complexity and cost. Your managers don’t need a doctoral degree in how to talk with their employees. But most of them have had zero education in effective communication skills. If you send them a packet of employee information or key messages, chances are they’ll merely pass it along and offer to answer questions.
Whether you choose to impart an hour’s worth of knowledge or a day’s worth, it will be time and money well spent.
If you remember one thing, remember this: Put your content in context. Take time with managers to explain why the communication they’ll be conveying is important to their employees. Why should they care?
And if you want more than one thing, Poppulo has eight great tips in their presentation, “How to Help Line Managers Be Better Communicators.”