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How to identify your organization's essential communicators — and teach them to be more effective
At most U.S. organizations, employees are hearing critical updates from their top executives more often than they do from the VPs and managers who work more closely with them.
- Why it matters: A lot of nuance is getting lost — only 46% of employees feel like they have the context they need to do their jobs — and other studies have shown 44% of professionals blame poor communication for delays and failures at work, low morale, and missed goals.
Leaders and communicators at every level and in every department need to keep direct lines of communication open with both executives and individual contributors. Done well, leaders say they’ve watched their improved internal communications have a direct impact on enhancing employee engagement, improving team alignment, strengthening independent decision-making, and boosting teamwork and collaboration.
How to identify essential communicators
Top-down vision can only become day-to-day execution when all leaders, managers, and communicators are aligned and play their part. Leaders need to put a communications ladder in place — with clear communication expectations on every rung for who is best placed to share a message org-wide, translate or teams, or report back on progress after it’s out there.
Pinpoint your essential communicators:
1. Founders and CEOs. Leaders at the highest level of any organization have an unparalleled perspective and ability to champion an approach and perspective. They set and share the broad company outlook, direction, and mission in an inspiring and achievable way.
Why they’re critical: 50% of employees say they don’t know what is expected of them at work, according to Gallup. Information needs to be clearly shared from the highest levels first before other mid-level leaders can add the specific context teams need to get to work.
2. Communicators and Chiefs of Staff. Communication and operation teams create the feedback loops and two-way communication flows that facilitate critical internal communication, ensure workplace transparency, and empower cross-functional collaboration.
Why they’re critical: 58% of employees are less likely to burn out if work is tied to org-wide purpose. Creating cross-functional updates keeps employees and stakeholders aligned, driving the business forward while protecting organizational trust and reputation.
3. Department leaders. The details these specialized leaders communicate are often far more specific and actionable on a team-level than what a top executive can. They have the context to connect the dots between top-level goals and workplace projects execution.
- Why they’re critical: 26% of employees strongly agree that their manager's feedback helps them do better work. But if managers aren’t cascading directives from higher leadership tiers, individual contributors don’t always see the value of their work or how it feeds into the bigger picture strategy.
How to empower effective communicators
For all of this to work, though, it also means the leaders who are part of your plan need to be able to communicate clearly, effectively, and in an engaging way with the areas of your business where they have the most impact. The issue: Many leaders were never taught how to do it, and many more might never have worked with a hybrid or remote workforce pre-pandemic.
That puts the responsibility on organizations to tap their in-house experts — if they have them — to skill up their peers and other leaders, or invest in the communication training and tools that help an entire class of leaders become first-class communicators.
A few ways to get started:
- Define an area of focus. Have communicators, team leads, or executives write small portions of the next newsletter or company-wide update. Get them used to the idea of sharing messages in a clear, concise way that isn’t overwhelming.
- Develop a replicable guide. Without a clearly defined strategy, tone, style, and schedule, communications will come across unorganized — not to mention they will underperform. Kickstart better comms by recording best practices, guidelines, and guardrails in a central location. Tailor more specific versions for each department or audience type to truly serve them the most necessary updates.
- Start small and scale. All-hands updates are a great place to start to get org-wide alignment, but communicators farther down the ladder will need to parse directives for individual impact. Upskill these individual communicators with a well thought out plan directed toward their unique needs. Get them — and their audience — to see the value in each communication by selecting essential, timely topics.
- Have a review process in place. Provide holistic feedback on a monthly or quarterly basis as needed. Reflect on what’s shared, what’s going well, and ways communicators can continue to make updates more precise.
- Use AI where it’s effective. With the advancements being made with AI technologies, creating starter copy is an accessible way to begin. And while you should know which messages should and shouldn’t be sent with AI, it can be an easy way to get colleagues started. Editing a pre-formed message is often easier than creating one from scratch.
- Set expectations from the start. Make communications training a session for communicators of all levels from the start. Having it as part of onboarding allows new hires to understand how information flows at your organization — and how they’ll be expected to contribute.
Empowering your colleagues will make getting started even easier, but you can go even further by supplying them with the resources that will set them on the road to success
- How to identify your organization's most essential communications
- The communication channels employees want leaders to use
- An employee-ranked list of topics they want to hear from leaders
- How to optimize an essential communication
The big picture: Identifying key communicators in your organization is just the beginning to crafting and implementing a better communications strategy. Empower them to write and send critical updates and you’ll create a more open, informed environment.
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