Recently, I had three conversations with three separate employee communicators about information overload:
- “It seems as if every department surveys employees about nearly every issue,” said one communicator. “We’re planning a communication audit and we worry about contributing to the glut.”
- “We’ve got initiative overload,” said another. “Every initiative project leader and/or executive sponsor wants to make sure his program gets enough attention. That means they all want full-scale programs, complete with communication teams, a logo, events, a publication, a web site, etc.”
- The third internal communicator struggles with electronic (especially email) overload. “It’s gotten so bad that open rates are declining to embarrassing level even when an email comes from the CEO. Increasingly, employees’ standard response is to delete emails without reading them.”
Like you, these communicators understand why information overload is such a big problem. When all communication is treated equally—as if it’s extremely urgent and vitally important—it loses its differentiation and becomes an undistinguishable blur. White noise. Nothingness.
That’s why I ask: Who’s responsible for solving the problem of information overload in your organization? I’d like to suggest that that person is you.
“Not so fast,” you protest. “I only impact a small percentage of the communication received by employees. And I’ve got so much on my plate that it’s overflowing. I don’t have the time—or the authority—to take on this problem.”
All true, but if you don’t address this problem, who will? It’s getting worse and worse all the time. It seems that every function is sending graphic emails, and every department is creating newsletters or videos. How will the madness stop unless someone, anyone decides that the problem must be addressed holistically and systemically?
It takes courage, it takes senior-level buy-in, and it certainly takes a strong stomach. But the person who leads the charge (because it will have to be a team effort, for sure) to slay the Information Overload Dragon will become a hero in the organization for sure.
Are you that person?