You know that creating an employee communication plan is essential to achieving your objectives. But no matter how perfect your plan looks on paper, you need to be prepared to adapt it at a moment’s notice.
I experienced this firsthand during my work on a communication plan for a company we’ll call Wonka Industries. Since this would be the first internal plan I ever worked on, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turns out, creating the plan was the easy part. The tough part was actually putting the plan into action.
We learned a lot from our work with Wonka Industries, but here are the three most important takeaways:
1. Expect the unexpected
Wouldn’t it be great if everything could always go according to your carefully crafted communication plan? Alas, that’s not always the case. With Wonka Industries, we often planned to draft materials about productivity tools only to learn that their rollout was postponed. So when yet another company-wide software update ended up getting delayed from June to July, rather than shrugging our shoulders and saying, “Oh well, guess we’ll get to this next month,” we sprang into action.
At first, such unexpected updates left us scrambling; We fretted about how they would impact our plan. However, we quickly realized that, on this campaign, out-of-the blue changes were common. As a result, we suggested releasing a preliminary announcement in June to prepare employees for the upcoming update. From then on, we always had something in our back pockets to save the day when yet another rollout was postponed.
The fact is, there will be times when things don’t always go according to plan. But instead of letting that discourage you, step up and roll with the punches. Always be prepared with backup tactics. Doing so will save you a lot of time and effort down the road.
2. Keep your eye on the prize
One of our objectives for Wonka Industries was to increase attendance for training by 60%. Since we knew that the company intranet page generated a lot of traffic, we planned to post monthly articles promoting training sessions.
However, by the second quarter, we realized that these articles weren’t getting nearly as many clicks as ones that promoted new tools. As a result, training attendance remained stagnant.
We knew we had to quickly come up with a new tactic. So, why not find a creative way to promote training sessions in the well-read articles about tools? We consulted with our design team and created an eye-catching banner that would go at the top of each tool article. The banner said, “Sign up for a training to get the most out of this tool” and linked to the company’s training calendar. This got employees’ attention, resulting in an instant boost in training registration!
The lesson learned here was not to lose sight of objectives established when the plan was initially created. Don’t feel as though you’re married to the initial strategies and tactics you created; they’re just stepping stones to help you reach your goals. If you notice that tactics aren’t working the way you hoped, don’t be afraid to modify them.
3. Be honest
To promote training sessions at Wonka Industries, we also created a digital sign campaign that highlighted available courses for each productivity tool. Our client suggested we create QR codes for the signs that, when scanned, linked directly to the training calendar. We agreed that QR codes would give people an easy way to sign up for a training.
But, when we looked at the QR scan metrics, we were disappointed to find that people just weren’t using the codes. It turned out that employees weren’t as tech-savvy as we expected them to be.
We checked the QR code scan metrics for a few months, but to no avail: Wonka Industries employees just weren’t using the codes. We decided to come clean to our client because, no matter how excited she was about the idea of QR codes, we didn’t want to waste her resources on a feature that simply wasn’t effective.
It can be tough to admit that an aspect of your plan isn’t going the way you thought, but it’s better than investing your resources into something that just isn’t working. When you implement your tactics, be honest about if they are giving you the results you need. It may hurt a bit of your pride to admit you were wrong, but if you aren’t getting results, you need to rethink your plan.