One Email Is Not Communicating

When I coach executive teams on culture transformation, one of the first things I do is a communication audit. A few of the areas I look at include:

  • Channels used for communication (email, newsletter, talking points for huddles and rounding, intranet, etc.)
  • Frequency of communication
  • Do they have a communication strategy?
  • Authorship of key messages
  • Tone

I also look at rounding practices to assess whether rounding is happening consistently because rounding and communication are closely linked with engagement. Even a short interaction during rounding can make a big difference in engagement.

Gallup research found that employees who receive daily feedback from their managers are three times more likely to be engaged than those who only get feedback during annual reviews. [i] Yet, rounding and daily feedback aren’t consistent in many organizations. It’s a missed opportunity for feedback and other vital communications.

Effective Communicating

How leaders perceive their communication with staff is not always consistent with what staff experience. Leaders often tell us they are good communicators, but staff report being uninformed about important issues. The problem lies in how things are communicated and by whom.

I find that most leaders send a single email message as their primary means of communication. That is dangerous because it assumes that everyone is reading email when, in fact, as many as 30% of staff don’t have direct access to email during the workday. Furthermore, many can’t access work messages on their personal phones or computers outside of work.

I often hear leaders say, “Well, they [employees] should be reading their email.” True. There is a degree of personal responsibility; however, their working conditions may not be conducive to reading emails. For some healthcare workers, accessing a computer and their email is like having to walk a half mile to a mailbox in the snow only to retrieve 25 pieces of junk mail with a message from the IRS buried among the junk. It is easy to miss important information if this is the only form of communication.

Imagine if Apple was introducing a new product and their only form of promotion was a single billboard in each city. There is no guarantee it will be seen by the most likely purchasers. Think of your communication the same way. Disseminate important information through a variety of channels.

Daily huddles and rounding can do much in reinforcing vital messages, but the managers need succinct, digestible talking points to help them disseminate the information. Provide the talking points.

Repeat Messaging

One form of communication is not enough. When the information is important, use multiple channels and validate that the information is received and understood during rounds and huddles.

In the 8-week course, Be the Leader Nobody Wants to Leave – 8 Transformational Skill-Builders for Busy Leaders, you’ll learn the power of visibility and communication. It’s more than just rounding skills. You’ll also learn the art of showing up and being visible and fully present. Sign up today for our cohorts beginning in May.

[i] Clifton & Harter, It’s the Manager- Moving from Coach to boss (Gallup Press)

Tags: , , ,