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Communicating with Employees Shouldn't be So Tough

Liam FitzPatrick and Klavs Valskov explain that great communications advisors focus more on outcomes than process.

In the past, communication inside organisations was an afterthought. Apart from large businesses no one really gave it much effort or attention. Now, you’ll struggle to find a senior manager who doesn’t say that talking to staff is essential. It’s an article of faith that gets taught at business schools; it's the subject of government task forces and comes high on the list of concerns whenever leaders are polled.

But organisations get it wrong – all the time.

Pick up a magazine and read the latest horror story from Microsoft where news of job losses are hidden deep in management verbiage.  Employment law reports are full of examples of workplaces that just can’t get a simple message over to workers.

Yet all the evidence shows that when you get it right you prosper.  Studies in the MacLeod Report into Employee Engagement list the financial benefits of good internal communication, and experience shows that there is clear link between effective dialogue and quality, safety at work and staff well-being.

 So why is there a disconnect? When we know it matters, why do we get communications so badly wrong at times?

Part of the reason has to be that leaders don’t always know where to turn to for the support and advice that they need.

Although there is strong and growing cadre of communications professionals on hand, their expertise is not recognised or sought out when it’s needed.  

And that might well be the fault of those professionals in many cases.

In our book Internal Communications: A Manual for Practitioners we argue that leaders expect rigour, data and business understanding from their legal, HR and finance teams, so why shouldn’t they get it from the communication team?  We argue that organisations need professionals who can coach leaders to drive behaviour through communication and can provide evidence to back their advice.

Our argument is that great communications advisors are less obsessed about the process of communication than the outcomes it needs to deliver.

Communication inside organisations isn’t rocket science.  Getting it right is probably no more complicated than asking, ‘What do we want employees to DO?’

Perhaps if more leaders were challenged with this question more of our organisations would enjoy the business results they deserve.

 For more information about FitzPatrick and Valskov's new book, visit our product page.