Put change front and center when you communicate

Effective communication doesn’t just inform. It should change behavior. Look for change opportunities in every email, blog post or video you create.

Every email, announcement, blog post, recognition event, video or podcast should motivate some type of change.

Ideally, if read an email or watch a video, I don’t just learn something I didn’t know before. I change my behavior because of the communication, and I’m now able to do my job better.

That’s the real purpose of internal communications, right?

Internal communications should be designed to change behavior. Otherwise we shouldn’t be wasting employees’ time with yet another email, blog post or article. What’s the point of asking someone to spend time reading an article or watching a video if it’s not meant to change behavior or help employees do their jobs more effectively?

This adds complexity to our already challenging jobs as communicators, but our success hinges on reaching colleagues with compelling messaging.

To develop effective change communications, we must know three things:

  • What we want people to think or do after reading the message
  • The gap between the existing situation and the goal we want to achieve
  • What the result will look like if we can get everyone to change a behavior

If I read an article in my organization’s newsletter or magazine, it should be more than just an interesting read. The article should educate me on what’s going on around the organization and perhaps offer insights on things that I could be doing to help achieve business goals.

Even a story on a seemingly mundane subject has the power to change behavior. You might be thinking, “I just need to announce the contest winners.” You may think you have no opportunity to elevate a message beyond its basic points. In the contest example, though, instead of just announcing the winners, you have an opportunity to revisit the original purpose of the contest. What were you trying to get employees to do, and how does that behavior support the goals of the organization?

You can always find an opportunity to tie the conversation back to the organization’s goals.

For example, plenty of important emails communicate deadline reminders. That’s a form of change. I may not have known or remembered the due date for benefits enrollment before I read an email reminding me of the deadline. Now I can make a note to have a conversation with my spouse and sign up for benefits before the window closes. That’s change, too—change that helps both me and my organization with our shared goals.

Making your communications consistently strategic doesn’t mean they can’t also be fun. It’s important to be engaging and entertaining with your communications. Just remember, though, that cute for the sake of being cute is usually a waste of time. Shoot for “strategically fun.”

It doesn’t matter what you call your communications. What’s important is not missing the opportunity to effect change.

Steve Baskin is president and chief strategy officer of Tribe. A version of this post first appeared on Tribe’s blog.


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