Forty percent of executives say they spend between half a day and one full day every week managing communication that has no value.
The reduction in workforce productivity caused by email and information overload has become a well-documented fact at many organizations. When it comes to the sheer number and quality of emails sent and received, the cost to employee productivity and engagement can be staggering, including an inability to make decisions, process information and prioritize tasks.
In 2017, tame your inbox, so you can spend more time being productive and building the relationships that really matter. Here are six tips to help you:
When crisis strikes, leadership turns to Legal, Communication and Human Resources professionals for guidance. Invest time now in planning how you manage a crisis. You hope you never need the plan, but if you do, it’s too late to initiate the process once something catastrophic happens. Rapid response is critical in times of business crisis.
Here are the guiding principles, the DOs and DON’Ts of effective crisis management:
1. All responses should start with a focus on safety (employee, customer, community, environmental).
2. Cooperate with authorities and emergency personnel.
3. Plan to do more that what is needed in order to build back goodwill with employees, customers, partners, vendors, other stakeholders and the community.
4. Communicate quickly:
Be open and honest about what is happening or has happened.
Remain calm. Don’t retaliate. Don’t react to abrasive remarks.
Focus on safety and protecting the rights of employees (for privacy) and the company (legal rights).
Avoid waiting until you have all of the information to communicate. Say what you know now or today. Do not speculate, guess about what happened or offer your opinions.
Everybody makes mistakes. But having a solid plan in place to address the negative whiplash or complaints in a timely and transparent manner will not only help preserve your company’s reputation, but confirm yet again that you are a business that cares about its customers and willing to go an extra mile to make them happy and live up to your reputation.
What is it that employees want from their managers? Simply put – timely, respectful and relevant communication. And even more precisely, the April 2015 Gallup study finds that employees want to know that they can approach their manager with “any type of question,” indicating the importance of an environment of communication openness.
Asking for help shouldn’t be scary. Here are four tips managers can implement to help create a not-so-spooky, more open and collaborative work environment.
A Gallup Business Journal article states that “only about one-third of U.S. workers are engaged at work and just 13% of employees worldwide are engaged.” That’s a problem – especially since engagement has a direct effect on business results. Compared to their less engaged counterparts, companies that rank high for employee engagement are:
So how do you create engagement? Leadership communication is key.
Research shows a culture where leaders demonstrate trust, fairness and open communication are most effective at attracting and retaining top talent.
Where to start? Bite off one big initiative at a time. Here are five tips from Aon on how to build a strong culture of engagement:
How You Operate: Reduce frustration…people want work that is enabled by the right resources and tools. Set them up for success. Make sure employees have what they need to get their jobs done — equipment, training, tools and resources, and a clear understanding of the task, the process and expectations.
How You Communicate: Create a magnetic employer brand that attracts and motivates. Do you have an employee value proposition? Does your communication strategy embody your organization’s values and mission/vision? Do employees understand and connect with your strategy? Do you use your external marketing messages internally? Do you use storytelling to inspire and motivate?
How You Compensate and Acknowledge: Pay and recognize people in alignment with individual and company performance.
How You Develop: Build a clear path and options for horizontal or vertical growth.
How You Strengthen Relationships: Provide opportunities and feedback that enables talent to grow and develop. What can you do – within your team – to enable productivity by making sure people have the tools and resources to get the work done? How can you connect your work with the strategy and business outcomes? How can you provide strengthen your team by providing feedback and opportunities for open conversation?
Every organization is different. Where would you start? What are you hearing and seeing? If you’d like to start a conversation on where you would start, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assuming the business acumen and operational knowledge foundation has been formed, the skills most critical to being an effective leader have to do with relating to people.
This means turning your organization’s strategy into a story that inspires employees to action. It means taking time to get feedback from employees at all levels, truly listening to what is said and taking action so that people know you heard them.
Here are four ways you can be a more effective and powerful leader today:
Superior leaders lead through effective communication. The “secret sauce” is engaging hearts and minds to inspire action.
Did you know that many of the so-called “rational” decisions we make – and the way we behave – are governed by our emotions, and that our emotions have projective power over our thoughts? Emotions act as filters to form our desires, furnish our capacities, and to a large extent, rule our immediate thoughts. As we encounter fresh situations, become faced with novel problems or grapple with new ideas, our emotional response to each of these sets in motion the initial allocation of our mental resources. In essence, our first “read” of a new situation is always centered in our emotions, feelings and attitudes. As such, our emotions are laying the groundwork for the thinking that is to come.
Creating a powerful connection and compelling your stakeholders to take action requires engaging both the head and the heart – the mind and emotions. And for employees, engaging heads and hearts delivers higher levels of business impact faster. Here are four tips for more effective employee engagement:
1. Tell your story. Explain your organization’s vision and strategy to inspire and motivate. How? Simplify the strategy or vision in a way that resonates with employees (is personal and meaningful).
2. Set expectations. Employees want and need to know, clearly and specifically, what is expected of them. This includes both job tasks and organizational culture behaviors.
3. Actively listen. Everyone wants to be heard. Show your leaders, peers and employees that what they have to say is important by really listening. Put down your phone, turn to face whoever is speaking, avoid distractions and summarize what is said to you. Remember to take action after the conversation is over, if necessary. Actively listening shows respect and builds trust.
4. Communicate effectively. Provide the tools and coaching to help leaders and managers effectively communicate, fostering more productive and engaging relationships within their teams.
People notice visible signs before you “officially” tell them anything. These signs constitute anything out of the ordinary, everyday experience, including:
Frequent closed-door meetings in an environment where doors are almost always open
Unannounced visits by executives who spend the day in meetings with onsite leaders
Unannounced visits by guests who appear to be closely examining people, processes and activities
Posters or advertisements for anything that hasn’t been announced to the workforce
Changes to the perks — free breakfast or lunch that’s no longer free, or when the kitchen isn’t stocked for a while
Questions that go unanswered or projects that are postponed without explanation
As humans, we naturally look for pattern changes. When something changes and we’re not sure why, we make up our own reason. Here’s an actual example:
There was a For Sale sign on a fence facing the highway of near a manufacturing plant.
Employees driving to work passed the sign, then exited the highway, parked their cars and walked into the building entrance.
That’s when they saw the Now Hiring sign.
What do you suppose they were they thinking?
The reality was that the company had some land it wasn’t using adjacent to the manufacturing plant. So it decided to sell the land. At the same time, it happened to be hiring to expand its workforce.
Rather than communicate these two issues to the workforce so they could feel good about what was happening, they put up the signs and didn’t anticipate the resulting confusion.
What visible signs could your team be misinterpreting right now?
This is especially important when your team, function, business unit or organization is going through any kind of change. As you think through your change management plan, think about what visible signs your employees will see throughout the process. Are you timing your communication to align with visible signs? When leaders and managers tell employees what’s happening before they start to see the signs, they build trust, credibility and confidence.
Organizations with highly effective communication and change management practices are more than twice as likely to significantly outperform their peers. Here are six activities that influence overall change success.
People fear change. How can you overcome this? Plan to communicate… a lot. Simple, clear messages can overcome the fear of the unknown. Employees need to know what’s changing and when, why the change is happening (and how it fits into the bigger picture, i.e. the business strategy) and the process to execute the change, including a timeline or milestones. Repeat your key messages often throughout all of your various channels. Clarity, simplicity and consistency are key.
Listening to your stakeholders, and letting them know you’re acting on their feedback, is an important part of building trust. You can include listening into your transformation planning in different ways and at different times throughout the process. Hold focus groups, survey or poll employees to support your need for the change and get suggestions for what’s working or what improvements could be made. Test the new process, program or idea with a group of people before rolling it out. And ask for feedback after the change has been announced and/or after it’s happened. What questions and concerns do your stakeholders have? How are you addressing those concerns?
Remember to include measurable goals in your transformation plan — goals can be monetary savings, actions your stakeholders have to take or a culture shift. Make sure to revisit these goals throughout the transformation.
Think about who needs to know what’s happening and who is indirectly affected by the change. Who should be part of the change team, who needs to support the initiative, who needs to be in the know though they’re not directly involved and which external stakeholders need to know?
Some change initiatives are short and fairly simple, and others are years and years in the making. In either situation, adjust the plan as needed. Stay focused on the outcome. Return to your goals. Repeat your key messages over and over.
What is it that makes businesses succeed year after year? Top performing companies have these six things in common:
Focus on the Customer
This should be the number one priority of all businesses and organizations. You can support a “customer first” culture through communications. Customer stories that reflect the company mission or strategy are especially inspirational to employees.
Engage Employees Using Two-Way Communication
Employees receive a lot of information from their manager, function, business unit and corporate — emails, quarterly meetings, team meetings, etc. Listening is key to keep employees engaged. It’s crucial to have formal and informal ways to get feedback, through surveys, meetings or skip-level meetings. And as important as listening is, make sure you show employees that you hear them and tell them what actions were made based on their feedback.
Train Managers to Communicate Effectively
When it comes to making the connection of strategy to getting the job done each day, managers and supervisors can build alignment and deliver results with the essential everyday communication skills that make a difference.
Involve Internal Communicators in Managing Change
Change is here to stay, and to a certain extent, it is always disruptive. The key is to apply communication skills and processes to compress the transition and minimize the disruption.
Measure the Performance of Communication Programs
Goals should be tied to metrics that matter — employee engagement survey scores, the number of employees who have adopted some new system or process, or the number of times articles are read or links are opened.
Brand the Employee Experience
In our experience, an organization has one brand — to be used inside and outside of the business. Remember that often times, employees are customers, too.
What will the workforce of tomorrow look like? Several factors are conspiring to reshape the traditional corporate workforce; in an interview with Bloomberg Radio, On the Same Page CEO Tracy Benson shares insight on how the business landscape is changing and what’s causing the shift.