Recently I had the pleasure of joining employee communications colleagues in an interview conducted by Elizabeth Castro of O’Malley Hansen Communications. Nate Riggs of Social Business Strategies, Kevin Johnson of BT (formerly British Telephone), Rachel Allen of London Overground Rail Operations, and I took part in a far-ranging conversation that touched on myriad topics. Among others, we discussed employee communicators’ concerns, changes in internal communications over the past 10 years, and some of the most effective tools and strategies in the communicator’s toolkit.

My contributions appear below.

On Internal Communications

Employees appreciate hearing about new initiatives or how the company is faring in the marketplace, but they are particularly interested in hearing about the vision for the company. They want to know that the company has a mission that resonates with their personal values.

The changing role of employee communicators

(The role has) changed dramatically. First, they are called on to apply their expertise to a much wider range of internal communications challenges. Second, the globalization of most large organizations has meant that cross-cultural communications is more important than ever.  Finally, information overload takes its toll and communicators not only need to craft the right message, they need to target it to the right audiences and select the appropriate communications channels.

What employee communicators are most concerned about or focusing on

Employees can be unsettled and fearful. Internal communicators want to have a positive impact on morale, but they don’t want to sugar coat an uncertain situation. Striking this balance isn’t very easy.

The new tools for communicating strategic direction to employees

One of the most effective ways to convey a new strategy is via town hall meetings; that kind of face-to-face interaction can’t be beat. Internal video segments can also be very effective. We’ve seen some great use of video produced in a news magazine style. Social media has not yet come of age in the large enterprise, but we expect to see more use of internal blogs, wikis, and more.

Reaching out to employees in the field

If you need to reach employees in the field, or on the shop floor, then talking points, team huddles, and similar personal communications are very effective. In this era of hi-tech global communications, sometimes we forget how effective it can be to just speak with someone!

Communicating difficult news

Employees appreciate straight talk. The language should be clear and concise, delivered in a respectful and empathetic tone.

The entire interview, which appears on The Communications Blog, is thought-provoking and rich in insights. I think you’ll find it a valuable read.

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