Effective internal communication channels

Recently, we experienced “draft season” here in the United States. As a huge sports fan, I was glued to the TV, waiting to see which professional teams would select my favorite college players.

As I watched Zion Williamson from Duke University selected as the first pick in the NBA draft, I began to think…what if there was a draft for employee communication?  What are the channels I can’t live without?

Of course, just as teams draft players to fit into their existing rosters, my top five would change based on an organization’s needs. However, given everything I know about employee needs and preferences, here are my top five internal communication channels:

1. Email
Love it or hate it (probably both), email is here to stay. I’m drafting email as my number one pick because it is an effective way to quickly reach a large group of people with the same message.

Tip: Want emails that cut through the clutter?  Keep them short (ideally under 300 words) and use visual cues like images, bullets and bold text to emphasize key information.

 

2. Large group meetings
Big meetings are a great way to give employees a chance to connect with colleagues and take a break from day-to-day routines. I’m selecting large group meetings as my number two pick because when you bring your entire team together, you send people back to work energized and motivated.

Tip: Start with outcomes. Don’t think about what you want to say in your big meeting, but instead what you want attendees to know, believe or do as a result. I’ve learned that the best ways to reach your objectives are to make your meeting as interactive as possible.

 

3. Workplace communication
My next pick? Digital signs, posters, table tents and other communication channels that employees experience in their work environment. While these are essential for non-wired employees, even office workers love to see messages that aren’t delivered to their email inbox.

Tip: Robust images and limited text help employees notice workplace communication. Don’t try to include much information; you just need one key message and a great visual.

 

4. Small chats
With my fourth pick, I’m choosing small group sessions. Use any format ­– lunch and learns, coffee conversations or breakfast meetings – that gives a leader a chance to have an informal conversation with a small group of employees.

Tip: Informal does not mean unstructured. Make sure leaders are prepared with key messages and questions they want to ask the group. Encourage leaders to follow up with emails or additional meetings demonstrating they heard what employees said.

 

5. Yammer (or other collaboration tools)
For my fifth and final pick, I am taking Yammer (or other collaboration tools like Slack, Workplace, etc.). A collaboration tool is a great way to share information and to help employees work together.

Tip: Make sure your collaboration tool has a clearly defined purpose. If employees don’t know why they should use Yammer, it will be just something else they have to do (and, as a result, they won’t participate). For example, encourage employees to share questions for an upcoming town hall on Yammer. Any questions not answered during the meeting can be answered on Yammer.

 

Well, those are my top five picks for the employee communication draft. If you had to draft for your organization, what would your top five be and why? Answering that question might make for a fun and useful communication planning exercise.

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