Are you "staff first" when it comes to communication?
I spoke this week at a conference on internal communication, and also had the benefit of listening to other leaders in this vital field.
There was a common theme in the room; communicating with employees is the glue that holds your business or organisation together. Yet it’s often a forgotten element, both in day-to-day activities and when major projects or changes are on the horizon.
Currently, I’m involved in a project that didn't start well. When it kicked off, communicating with staff was the last thing on the business’s leader's mind. When I suggested he should take a staff first approach, he looked at me like something radical had come out of my mouth.
People in your business are your most powerful reputation ambassadors. They should be the ones you talk to first, before you go to outside audiences.
An interesting topic at the conference was the growth of email tracking platforms for communication within organisations. There are many of these tracking programs, including PoliteMail, Convo, TailoredMail, and Bananatag to name just a few.
I don’t propose to recommend or critique any of them, but their brand promise might appeal to those looking to improve engagement with teams inside their business.
Whether we like it or not, email is still a key plank of the way we reach employees. We all whinge about it, yet for many of us it's still our go-to channel. Having a method to track emails serves some useful purposes.
1. Gathering statistics
Internal communication is traditionally the poor relation in the broader communication family. Getting solid data on what employees are reading and when, can be powerful when it comes to seeking more resources or tweaking your approach to internal communications.
2. Allocating resources
If you know what’s working, where and when, you can better decide how communication resources are allocated. That’s very valuable at a time when communication staff have never had more to juggle and more pressure to protect the reputation of the business.
3. Reducing email overload
This is the one that really resonated with me. Is there anyone out there who’s not drowning under emails?
Research by the Radicati Group in February this year estimated the number of emails sent worldwide every day is now 205 billion - which means nearly 2.4 million emails are sent every second! No wonder we’re all overwhelmed.
Tracking your internal communication emails lets you know who has opened and read your message. If it’s an important piece of information (and if it’s not, why are you emailing it?) you can use another means, like a phone call, to follow up those who don’t open or read it. Even better, you can leave alone the people who have already got on board with your message.
This simple benefit of a tracking tool could be useful in any business where email content has been cheapened by an oversupply of meaningless or less important messages.
Whether you have a tracking program or not, the over-arching principle remains the same. Communicating with your team is critical. You can’t hope to have an outstanding reputation in the outside world if you don’t communicate first with the people who matter most; those inside your business.