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How to earn stakeholder buy-in when evolving your communication strategy
Over 75% of leaders say their org’s communications are helpful, relevant, and include the context employees need to do their job well — but only 46% of employees agree.
Why it matters: Like any strong workplace strategy, organizations need to revisit and reimagine their communication strategies to see where alignment might be splintering and revise their approach before they miss goals, lose employees, or struggle to succeed as an organization.
Getting your organization on the same page starts by identifying what’s working, diagnosing what could be better, and adapting to a new approach for internal workplace communications. Do a thorough review of your methods and messaging:
- Audit your content and current approach
- Discover what your audience actually wants to hear
- Create your most essential communications using a new, more effective style
Once you’ve decided on a new direction, socializing the strategy and earning stakeholder buy-in comes next. It’s only when you have these key leaders on board you’ll be able to create a united front around centralized messaging.
To warm the water with stakeholders:
1. Tell the data story: 86% of employees and executives say the lack of effective collaboration and communication are the leading causes for errors in the workplace, with 60% of employees saying the updates they get from leaders at their organizations aren't effective to begin with.
Many employees admit they don't read all the way through workplace communications even if they open it — missing out on potentially critical information, becoming less aligned with your mission, and eroding their workplace engagement. That has big implications:
- Only 21% of employees are engaged at work, but business units with engaged workers have 23% higher profits.
- Gallup’s global 2022 analysis found a strong link between engagement and retention, productivity, safety, and profitability.
Improving your communications strategy isn’t just about getting to a 100% open rate, it’s about creating a culture where employees are informed, engaged, and valued. That starts with better, more targeted communication — because once you establish your updates are worth reading, you’ve made yourself a trusted source of information that readers are more likely to engage with in the future.
2. Show bigger isn’t better: Flooding your audience with more information only stands to overwhelm them — drowning readers in unnecessary info they can’t wade through.
- The average worker receives 126 emails a day. Things get lost quickly, and employees lose more time searching for what they need.
- 50% of employees don’t thoroughly read what leaders send, according to Gallup. If crucial details are buried, they’ll be missed.
Create shorter, more targeted updates to serve as a gateway to other internal systems where more rich communications can live. That way, you keep what’s essential without losing the ability to go deeper for those who need it.
3. Lead by example: People get attached to what they know. Showcase how it can be done better — and with more collaboration.
- Pick a communication you control, like a recurring email you send, and start evolving it toward your new style, tone, and direction. As your audience grows accustomed and feels at ease, they’re more likely to embrace it and see its benefits.
- Track engagement, feedback, and data around your new approach. Use it to show the impact the updated strategy can have at your organization.
If there’s residence or anxiety around adapting a communication at your organization, adjust a department update, manager message, or other meaningful but lower profile communication first. This will ease stakeholders in with less worry.
4. Open up their “sent” folder: Ask stakeholders what their last few email replies look like. Often, these are shorter one-or-two-sentence answers — it might even just be a subject line. Why? Leaders want efficient communication and often reply to peers in the same way. That level of communication and respect can serve everyone beneath them, too.
- Long words and phrases slow readers down. They include empty details that make things time consuming to read, burning hours of productivity across the company.
You may not be able to speak to staff in the same extreme brevity you do peer leaders, but the volume of information and depth of detail you offer can usually be reduced 30-40% without losing any essential details your staff and stakeholders need. It’s just about being more succinct and conversational — rather than overwhelming and complex.
The bottom line: Changing your company's communication style won’t happen overnight. It takes time and persistence to move forward one step at a time. Focus on a few stakeholders at a time and build up support as you go.
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