Has this ever happened to you?
You’re talking with an HR or communications leader. The person shares with you that the managers of their organization aren’t communicating as well as they should. When you probe and ask about the manager communications toolkit you get a blank look.
But we’ve transformed, they say. We’ve got forums, blogs, online communities, instant messaging, video calling, and hangouts! Why would we need a communications toolkit?
Those channels are exciting. What’s more, they’re easy to access and use. Yet, there’s an assumption that managers know how to use them effectively. Effectively is the important word here. In other words, leaders assume managers understand how to use a channel to reach employees so that they can hear a message and make meaning of it.
I think that’s a big assumption. Further, I don’t think the evidence bears it out.
For example (and my personal favorite): How many times have you seen the email flip? Hundreds? Okay, sometimes that’s they way to go. But more often than not, those managers haven’t even read the message before they forward it onto their teams. The teams get a message for which they have no context or insight. So you know what they do with that message!
As we change inside our organizations, adopting new ways of working and new channels for communication, we need our managers to remain up to the task of communicating effectively. That’s why I think most companies need some sort of manager communications support and equipment–a toolkit. The content and how it’s delivered can reflect the organization’s communication philosophy and strategy.
Regardless of the substance and delivery mechanism, it should be practical. Managers can use it to get on the same page with easy-to-follow communication principles, coaching and resources around good communication practices, and supporting templates or tools. With that basis, they’re ready to hear from their leaders, and in turn communicate with their teams in ways that their employees can hear and understand and, maybe, even get excited.
Frankly, the stakes are too high, and business objectives are too important to leave manager communications to a cross-your-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best approach. A humble manager communications toolkit can make all the difference. What do you think?