In my last blog, I used org announcements as an example of an employee communication activity that often requires a lot of time—and therefore costs the organization a lot of money (say, $9,374.99).
No sooner did I post the blog that a colleague called my bluff. “It’s easy to pick on org announcements,” she said. “But do you have tangible suggestions for how to reduce the amount of time org announcements take?”
As a matter of fact, I do. These 11 suggestions—which range from minor improvements to a complete overhaul—not only save time, they make org announcements more effective:
- Start by employing design thinking (the practice of reframing a problem based on your customers’ [employees’] needs) to analyze the purpose org announcements serve in your company. Then use a blank sheet of paper to redesign org announcements from the ground up.
- (If that seems too scary), at the very least articulate objectives for org announcements. I’ll bet it’s been years since anyone asked: “What are these for? What impact do we want org announcements to have? Is there anything we need employees to do differently?”
- Build standards. In the process of making changes, create guidelines for the proposed “new rules” for org announcements. Get buy in from key stakeholders for these improvements.
- Create a template. To make org announcements routine and consistent, then don’t reinvent the wheel. Based on your objectives, which dictate your standards, create a template that you always follow. The idea is this: plug and play.
- Make org announcements as short as possible. Are they running 400 words or more? Cut them to 200, 100 or even 50 words. . . just the essential information, no more.
- Show, don’t tell. Most org announcements are really about a change in an organizational structure or reporting relationships. Luckily, there’s a visual tool that conveys that information much more quickly and effectively than any verbiage: an org chart. Use these charts to illustrate and illuminate.
- Clarify roles (including who has approval rights). A key problem with org announcements is that too many cooks are involved—and it’s not clear who’s really accountable. Create a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed) matrix to define roles and get buy in.
- Develop a segmentation strategy. If 10% of your organization cares deeply about an org change, and 90% does not, why share details with the 90%? Instead, send the announcement to those affected and post the notice on your intranet site for everyone else.
- Tighten your criteria. This relates to segmentation, but also deserves attention as a stand-alone change. Many organizations send announcements out for too many levels—even every VP who gets promoted or appointed. Think about the level of person (or organizational change) that truly deserves attention. Senior VPs? Functional leads? Heads of businesses? Be strict about setting and maintaining limitations.
- Integrate into other channels. Most org announcements don’t really deserve to be stand-alone emails, since most aren’t truly news and don’t directly affect many people. So build an org announcement section in an e-newsletter or website.
- Break the box. Most of these tips are about making org announcements controlled and predictable. But I have to make a pitch for thinking outside the box (see #1). Instead of being emails, could org announcements be posters? Or Post-It notes, pinned on a wall outside the cafeteria? Or a thread or group on a social network? If you had the freedom to think completely differently, how could you make org announcements really interesting?