There’s a basic recipe on which all great organizational messages are built: Start with a base of clarity, add a pinch of simplicity, a dash of transparency, a good shake of “what it means to me” and top it all off with a voice that makes people want to dive right in.
Unfortunately, the majority of corporate messages don’t follow this recipe at all. Instead, they’re based on unwritten “rules” imposed by organizational leaders and lawyers that were established as guidelines for external messages to shareholders, customers and the press. Internal messages written according to these rules can be a jambalaya of obscurity, authoritative voice and corporate speak rather than the clear information, context and friendly voice that employees need.
Here are some tips:
|1. Make information clear and simple
Nothing frustrates employees more than the lack of clarity stemming from corporate speak and jargon that doesn’t really tell them anything. Be straightforward—employees can spot “spin” from 100 paces—and instead of long, narrative pieces, make news easy to access by breaking it into sidebars, bullets and charts.
|2. Make it relevant
Too often, corporate messages are written for the CEO or shareholders, which is fine in a press release, but not right for employee vehicles. Instead, write for employees by giving them information that actually helps them do their jobs better.
|3. Explain the “why” and the “what”
Don’t make employees guess what the information means to them. In addition to telling them about your organization’s new strategy, give them some tips on how they can help support it (i.e., look for inefficiencies, talk to people in other departments, etc.).
|4. Write in a friendly voice
Employees will respond better to a friendly tone rather than an authoritative one. For example, rather than telling employees how they “must do this” or “we need you to do that,” try “here’s what you can do” or “this is how your role supports this initiative.”