Triumph! Your company has invested lots of money, time, sweat and even tears, in putting a social platform into place. Now, managers are sighing with relief. At last, they say, information will get to the front lines–where it needs to be–with less friction and greater efficiency.
Here’s the danger: Managers sit back, thinking their work is done.
Whoa! Speed and efficiency don’t necessarily translate into effectiveness. In fact, Tracey Moore, author of “The Slack Backlash” (Vocativ, May 2016) explored this concept, sharing the comments of one manager who said that the social platform distributed low-level information well, but didn’t replace meetings.
Meetings? That’s right. Meetings enable managers and employees to stop, focus and make meaning of the information they receive. Where conversations are happening dynamically at every level, the meaning of messages run the risk of getting skewed. It’s kind of like playing the game of telephone, where the first kid on the line starts with one communique and the last kid hears something completely different. You don’t want that to happen when business-critical information is coming from the top. So, meetings are places where managers can cut through the ambient social noise and make sure that employees pay attention to important stuff, by hearing real facts and circumstances and sharing stories.
And these meeting formats can be flexible. One-on-one or group. Hangouts. Skype. Live. The format is less important that the objectives: To clarify data, frame messages in local contexts, reinforce calls to action, and emphasize target behaviors.
If you’re responsible for communications in your organization, make sure you’re positioning your managers to successfully align their employees. Build on what’s working with your social platform and empower your managers to put the spotlight on what you want employees to hear, and what actions you want them to take. Be deliberate in enabling your managers to engage and meet with employees with success.