Drew Munn

Make sure you put the user at the heart of the process – and think about how you might react to the communication if it landed in your inbox.

Drew Munn

Future Impact Advisor

Stage 2: Make life easier

Now that we’ve got rid of what we don’t need, it’s time to focus on maximising the value of what’s left.

This is all about asking:

  • Who is the ‘customer’?
  • What are the different potential outcomes?
  • Does this all need to be done in one go?

Let’s talk about identifying your ‘customer’ first. This is an interesting one, because there can be multiple customers within one single journey – and you need to make sure that each step within that journey both identifies the customers you’re trying to target and makes their lives easier as a result.

And we’re not just talking about employees (and their families) when we talk about ‘customers’ here.

You, as a communicator, might be the customer; you might want stats or survey results to see how things have worked. The HR team could be the customer, because they’re invested in making sure people get what they need, when they need it – and they often need additional layers of information to ensure that they are equipped to service their customers.

When it comes to the question of identifying potential outcomes, you need to appreciate that not everybody is going to do what you want them to do, no matter how hard you try – and that’s okay.

You just need to second guess these alternative actions. This could be as simple as somebody not clicking on the link in an email, but getting to the information you’re sharing via another channel.

So, rather than just assuming people respond in the way you want, make sure you consider these other channels. Ask yourself, are you working with them, in parallel to them – or against them?

Do you, for instance, have ambassadors in your company Slack system that can pick up on trends that are appearing and answer questions? Do you have easy access to your HR team so that they know what situations are likely to arise when you send out communications? Have you furnished your line managers with the information they need to respond to employee concerns with the clarity and authority they need?

The last part of this stage is about looking at how you are dealing with modern, non-linear communication journeys – let’s face it, in today’s world of digital everything, strict A to B processes are few and far between.

When you use a platform like Amazon, for instance, you can put something in your shopping basket as you browse and leave it there until pay day. It’s not going anywhere until you’re ready for it – then you’re looking at a simple one-tap transaction when you’re ready to buy.

That exact same philosophy can be applied when you're looking at your internal communications.

Surveys are a great example of this. Are you making people fill in a 10-20 minute survey all in one go? Or are you allowing them to dip in and out at their own pace? Because if someone has to find your survey platform, sign into it, fill in a form, then potentially start again from scratch if they don’t have time to get to the end, you’re just not going to get the level of engagement you need – or any engagement, for that matter.

Stage 3: Consider the context

The last stage is considering the context. Okay, we know this can be a bit ‘fluffy’, but there are no hard and fast rules here. That's just the way it is – it’s still absolutely vital though.

So, ask yourself:

  • How might your audience feel?
  • What actions might they take?
  • What happens tomorrow?

Communicators have dealt with the first two questions for years. But let’s take a step beyond just how recipients might feel about the message – let’s focus on how they're feeling in the moment when they receive that communication?

Are they going to be excited about it? If so, don’t bore them with policies and processes and long journeys. Are they going to be potentially concerned by heavier messages about pay reviews – and, if so, can you add clarity around your internal processes through signposting and knowledge sharing.

And when it comes to thinking about the actions might they take, remember that this doesn’t just occur within your business; it goes way beyond that. Again, it’s about realising that people won’t do necessarily everything that you expect them to do – internally and externally.

The ‘what happens tomorrow?’ element is, again, something that communicators have battled with for years. With this, it’s important to remember that your messages don’t exist within a vacuum; you need to make sure everything fits with what’s happening around it.

For example, if you’re sending out a message telling people that they’re not going get a pay rise because of last year’s figures, don’t send out a message the next day telling them how amazing the company is doing.

And, at a level above that, make sure you know who you should speak to internally to help you understand the consequences your communications really have. It’s so important to remember that, now more than ever, we live in an environment of constant change. So build a framework that allows you to talk to your internal stakeholders – it’ll make sure you’re best placed to know what tomorrow could actually look like when you hit send on that email.

Time to reflect

So now you’ve worked through these steps, you’ve answered the questions and you’ve looked at your process through a whole business lens to determine what good can look like, how does that change the structure of your internal communications – and, ultimately, the structure of your employee experience.

Hopefully, it makes it a smoother one. One with added value and improved employee satisfaction – because, ultimately, this is level of engagement we’re after as communicators.

And the fact that we can achieve all of this through internal communication... Well, that’s what good really looks like.

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