7 realities that communicators must embrace for success

Less is typically more, don’t ditch the channel before assessing the content, and strive to make the company’s purpose personal.

Communication success

Even the best communicators in the healthiest companies face many obstacles.

Some corporate challenges are beyond your control, but often it’s just a matter of shifting your mindset, strategy or tactics. Either way, it starts with an honest assessment of your surroundings and situation.

Here are seven facts of life every communicator should accept:

  1. Everybody knows the CEO didn’t write that blog post. Instead of ghostwriting, look for authentic ways for your leaders to communicate without taking too much of their time. That might mean a short video, a town hall, a post for your intranet or perhaps a magazine article based on an interview with that executive.
  2. Values such as honesty and respect are just table stakes. The values of your culture should reflect something more profound than the basics of being a decent person. Identify the unique values intrinsic to your organization and the way you do business. One partner organization promoted a “Kill the snakes” campaign, which exhorted employees to quickly solve problems on their own.
  3. When a channel isn’t working, it might mean the content is flawed. If employees aren’t clicking, it’s tempting to assume the channel is to blame. Before you ditch the channel, try improving the content. Is the content relevant? Is it interesting? Could it be shorter? Is it visually appealing? Try spicing up your content before changing channels.
  4. Less is more—especially in video. It’s easy to make a long video. Creating a short video requires discipline and strong editing skills. Would you rather have your staffers watch all of a short video or the first minute of a documentary-length production? Err on the side of brevity.
  5. Mid-level managers don’t always cascade vital information. Sending communication tools and talking points to managers isn’t enough. Some managers are excellent at cascading communications, but most require coaching and accountability. Empower, inspire and motivate managers to cascade crucial messaging, but hedge your bets by providing at least one channel that goes directly from executives to front-line workers.
  6. Too much internal communication can be worse than not enough. Are your employees overwhelmed by internal email? Do you have different intranets, blogs or sites for employees, with none getting much traffic? Don’t habitually spew communications and hope something sticks. Instead, offer employees a thoughtfully curated collection of fresh, engaging content.
  7. The purpose must be personal. To make the company purpose meaningful, help employees make the connection between their individual roles and the larger purpose. Workers must see that what they do each day is driving the company forward. That’s how you align an entire organization toward a singular, compelling vision.

A version of this post first appeared on the Tribe Good Company blog.

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