Today’s digital tools provide us with unparalleled opportunities to connect and engage with employees in creative and meaningful ways. We now have the potential and opportunity to drive organizational performance by providing relevant content and establishing a one-to-one communication experience – even in large, multinational organizations.
This is crucial since engagement is an individual experience felt by an employee on a personal, rather than a collective level (for more insights on this important theme, check out The Engagement Equation).
Here are 5 key principles that can help guide your efforts in shifting toward better employee communications and engagement:
- Form should follow function. If you want to foster collaboration and exchange of ideas, structure your communications as a dialogue. Think in terms of a conversation, not a dictation.
- Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Communication is fast. It’s messy. It’s organic. And that’s ok.
- Cultivate an open communication culture. Leaders must set the tone by embracing an open culture where staff feel safe to express ideas and take risks. Not only do they need to emulate those behaviours, they must drive out behaviours that run counter to this goal (information hoarding being chief among them). Keep in mind – trust is a pre-condition to communication, and trust cannot grow where there’s fear.
- Think in terms of relationships. Look at your organization as a series of networks, as an ecosystem of relationships among and between individuals. Find creative opportunities to build connections, and foster those relationships in order to provide a rich, meaningful and relevant experience to the individual
- Focus on the emotion first, the information second. In today’s attention economy, the only hope to pierce through the noise of information overload is to establish relevancy by making a compelling, emotional connection in your messaging. Worry about the information and data as a second step. (For the most compelling business case for investing in the emotional dimension of engagement I’ve seen, check out Switch).
Making the shift from the parochial, rigid and uni-directional internal communications model of the past toward a more social approach can be done gradually. It’s a matter of making deliberate efforts to dial up the social nature of communication structures and messages.
See more on employee engagement here: “Goodbye Command & Control: Hello Open Communication Culture“