Keep your team up to date without boring them to death | Daily News

Keep your team up to date without boring them to death

Leading your flock into greener pastures – Part 30

This series of articles will be useful for senior managers and other executives in small and medium sized businesses when drawing up a Covid- exit plan. The series will guide them how to get their business back on track. If you are interested in back issues, you may contact the writer by email.

Now, this week’s topic! The right type of employee communication is one of the important elements in the revival of small and medium businesses when they begin “real” operations after Covid 19. In this instalment we will start discussing 5 types of communication which are been voted to work best.

1. In-person weekly (or daily) meetings

Despite the growth of communication tools, sometimes you just need to meet with your team or department face to face, in a group. In my last job, we had a daily stand-up meeting each day. This meeting is very short and everyone attends. We used it to discuss anything that needs to be communicated between all teams. This ensured that everyone is on the same page and has the same information.

2. Virtual meetings/videoconferencing

In the same job, we held weekly meetings with our staff. We discussed strategy changes, business updates, methods, answered questions and set plans. We actually held them first thing in the morning on Mondays via net so everyone including people elsewhere on official business could also attend. Nothing beats face time, even if it’s virtual.

3. Instant messaging/ private group chat apps

Some companies allow team leaders to communicate with their team members through chat apps. Modern chat apps combine chat, video chat, task management and file sharing in one place to keep teams productive, engaged and communicating in real time.

Another option is Google Hangouts for conversations that don’t garner long. This works best when answers are needed for quick questions or you need to start a conversation with a group of people for a discussion.

4. Don’t forget email

However, email communication is and will remain the bread and butter of business communications. It’s a convenient, established way to send information to a large group of people. Since roughly one in every three people worldwide has an email account, employers can rally behind email-driven communications with the peace of mind that almost everyone in business is familiar with the platform.

Now let us go through some details.

Use regular briefing sessions with groups of up to 20 employees, depending on the number of employees affected by the change, in order to: (1) Inform people about proposed changes, (2) Explain and explore how effectively changes that have been introduced are working, (3) Encourage people to ask questions and for you to answer them,

Use your line managers to reinforce key messages and answer questions with their own, probably smaller, groups of employees who report to them, Do inform employee representatives about changes, but use the management structure to convey and reinforce key messages to employees about a change.

To the people who report to them, line managers are the organisation and represent the organisation: line managers are, potentially, the greatest single influence on an employee who reports to them.

Reacting positively to crises

As we discussed earlier, sometimes you’re going to find yourself in situations that aren’t of your choosing but in which you need to choose your reaction.

For eg, Covid 19. Trying to make the best of the bad is far better than reacting negatively and complaining about the situation.

When a workplace change that you’ve made goes badly wrong, you may feel that you’re facing a crisis: (1) Errors or faulty products have been made, (2) The process stops, especially if it involves, for example, an information technology or production process, (3) You’re in the spotlight and the eyes of more senior managers and everyone around you are on you, (4) You feel intense pressure on you to solve the problem.

Hearing about problems with a change you’ve made can be difficult. You may be the sort of person who remains calm in a crisis but, if not, try not to overreact or do or say something that you may later regret. Here are some suggestions:

(1) Use the diving motto - ‘stop, think, breathe!’ - to help you keep calm. (We spoke about this concept earlier.)

(2) Avoid blaming people - by all means hold people accountable, but recognise that people rarely deliberately make mistakes; recognising their good intentions helps you to deal with the problem without damaging your relationship with them.

(3) Critique a person’s behaviour - what they did wrong or didn’t do right - rather than criticising their personality. People can change their behaviour but not their personality.

(4) Focus on the future - on the actions to take, by when and by whom, to solve the problem.

(5) Help people to learn from their mistakes - ask searching questions to help people to think through what they could have done and, in the future, will do differently. (sometime bback we discussed about asking searching questions.)

Promoting good practice

Promoting good practice isn’t about promoting someone who does a good job to a better position (although of course you’re likely to promote people who consistently deliver high levels of performance and capability). Promoting good practice with regards to reinforcing a workplace change is about recognising and praising people who do the following:

(1) Demonstrate the most positive attitudes towards the changes being made. (2) Place the same high level of importance as you do on the objectives, targets, standards of service and so on associated with the system, process or structure being changed. (3) See problems experienced with the change as opportunities to make improvements and acquire knowledge and expertise about implementing changes into the workplace.

By recognising and praising good practice you can: (1) Reinforce the attitudes, values and behaviours that you believe are important to: (a) Ensure that the specific change that has been made is maintained. (b) Sustain the success of your team.

Let people know what’s expected of them if they want to be recognised.

Tips to for communication in brief

(1) Communicate your strategic planning framework to all employees at all levels. Not just once, but over and over again! People should not lose sight of the goals.

(2) Face-to-face communication is one method for keeping people informed about where (and how) you want to go. Smart leaders use a variety of communication tools and methods to keep the messages intact in minds of employees.

(3) Start by setting a program to discuss the goals and strategic planning framework elements with employees on a regular basis. Provide tools and templates to managers and team leaders so that they can use them in monthly team meetings and in one-on-one conversations.

(4) Develop some creative ways to keep information in front of everyone. For example: newsletters, e-mail messages, presentations used at team and company meetings.

(5) Look for little things employees use on a daily basis and find ways to turn them into ongoing communication vehicles.

(6) Develop table tent cards for the cafeteria tables, posters for public areas in the offices, and screen savers that list the company’s three most important strategic objectives.

(8) Use Twitter to send daily or weekly “tweets” — short, concise reminders of what employees need to focus.

(9) Make sure all new recruits receive information about the strategic framework as part of their introduction to the company.

There is almost no limit to the simple things you can do to communicate the most important messages in the company. Change it up every month so that people don’t tune out your messages because they look like the “same old stuff” they always see. But just keep doing it!

Pausing to communicate frequently will save hours attempting to correct the myths, half-truths, and inaccurate information that spring up when you don’t communicate enough. More important, it will increase understanding of and commitment to the goals you and your management team worked so hard to create.

(Lionel Wijesiri is a retired company director with over 35 years’ experience in senior business management. Presently he is a business consultant, freelance newspaper columnist and a writer. He could be contacted on [email protected])

Add new comment