Why would you chop down a tree with a hammer? It's not the right tool for a job. It might take you thirty days if it's a big tree, but if you trade in that hammer for an ax you probably could cut it down in thirty minutes. Everyday see leaders using the communication equivalent to chopping down a tree with a hammer for their internal communication program. When I think of the waste of productivity and profitability that that represents it makes me want to cry. I think of those leaders as out-putters.
Their focus is on producing an internal communication program output, such as email or a briefing kit whether it's the right tool for the job. Let’s say that employee turnover rapidly increases and your leadership team decides it’s a communication issue. If they’re out-putters, they immediately go to the first communication tools that come to mind. Let’s send out an email to all managers advising them about the situation and follow that up with a briefing kit, outlining that with what managers would need to do to decrease the employee turnover. The question is, how do those leaders know that's the right tool for the job? The answer is they don't; and that's the big mistake out-putters make, resulting in a huge waste of time, effort and resources.
So what is the alternative? The alternative is what out-comers do. Out-comers don't respond with a knee jerk reaction, instead out-comers ask some key questions before they implement an internal communication program. What's the desired communication outcome? What does that communication need to do to achieve that outcome? Does our communication outcome need to increase the shift of employee’s knowledge, or shift in their beliefs, or shift in their behavior or actions? It's the job of your communication program to close those identified gaps in knowledge, beliefs or action that is under pinning our organizational issues? That requires selecting the right communication tool to drive those shifts and close those gaps. Let's return to the earlier example of the increase in employee turnover. The out-comers approach is to first identify the desired outcome of the communication. What's the issue that is driving the increase in employee turnover? Then what are the gaps that are underpinning those issues? Is it a gap in knowledge, beliefs or behavior? Then we select the right tool for the job internal communication program.
Reacting to the situation, by producing the first communication tool that comes to mind, sets a internal communications team up for failure. Is that why 70% of change programs fail to realize their intended benefits?
In this video series I want to share with you ways of selecting the right communication tool for your internal communication program, and avoid wasting lots of time, resources and effort. So I look forward to seeing you for episode 2 of Tactics Tuesday. Until then, Happy Communicating!
Lorri Lennon is an award-winning advisor, trainer and author in leadership communication. She has 20 years’ experience managing communications for large global organisations.
Lorri conducts master classes to help participants maximise their communications ROI.
Mariska Mannes is an experienced communication consultant. She holds a Master of Management majoring in Communication, which allows her to bring a blend of qualification and practical experiences to her training programmes. Her expertise is in business and cross cultural communication and behaviour. For more information visit Mariska's LinkedIn profile.