Today's Tactics Tuesday asks the question, are employees drowning in too much information because of the lack of context? We'll answer that question, but let's focus first on strategic leadership communication and what it is.
I suggest that strategic leadership communication is communication that is purposeful, responsive, and planned; and that it comprises a set of meticulously selected tactics devised to shift the organization closer to realizing its vision, living its values, and fulfilling its purpose.
One of the things to learn with leadership communication is to connect the dots for employees by providing the big picture context with day-to-day internal information. I've already discussed in these videos about how the meaning motive engages employees, because employees will work hard for money. They'll work harder still for a leader they trust. But they will work hardest of all for a cause they believe in.
Linking day-to-day internal information to the big picture context inspires employees through the meaning motive, because it provides a clear line of sight between what employees are being asked to do and delivering on that overarching intent. Providing day-to-day communications to employees without providing the big picture context, well, it's like providing employees with lots and lots of individual pieces of jigsaw puzzle, and not providing them with the picture of the top of the jigsaw puzzle box. Trying to work out how all the separate pieces of jigsaw puzzle, or to keep this analogy going, how all the separate pieces of information fit together to create the big picture perspective of the organization can be very frustrating. And I think that's one of the reasons why employees feel they are drowning in too much information.
Linking day-to-day internal information to the big picture context enables the meaning to emerge. And it's this meaning dynamic, rather than the vision statement or the purpose statement or the mission statement themselves, that help drive high performance.
One of the challenges I see managers facing is how do you do that? How do you link day-to-day internal information to the big picture context? Well, this can be very, very difficult to do if the organization's key messages are all over the place. If, for example, the organization's vision statement is in the annual report and the values of are listed on the Internet and the organization's strategy is buried somewhere in the annual business plan.
A handy tool I use in this situation is called organizational DNA. And it's a one-page aggregation of all the organization's core corporate messages; and it literally provides the picture on top of the jigsaw puzzle box.Here's an example of a DNA developed many years ago for one of Australia's banks. And it clearly shows how all the core corporate messages, such as vision, values, mission, purpose, annual priorities fit together to create the big-picture context. It was a tool that enabled the bank's managers to very easily, simply, and quickly link their day-to-day communications with that big picture context. Like DNA in the human body, organization DNA provides a set of instructions that help ensure the organization remains true to what it is and what it stands for. It helps to give a clear sense of where the organization is heading and how it's going to get there. And most critically, it enables employees to gain a sense of the connection and the line of sight between what they're being asked to do and that big picture perspective, that cause that they can believe in.
I develop a DNA for every client I work with, because it's a proven tool that's effective in all types of organizations; and it provides a valuable aid to effective communication and a handy guide to decision making.
Well, that's my suggested tactic for this Tuesday; provide a context for day-to-day communications to ensure that the meaning dynamic emerges for employees.What do you think? Do you think the employees are drowning in too much information and starving for meaning? Because sometimes we fail to consider how that day-to-day internal information links to the big picture context. Well, that's it for today. I look forward to seeing you again soon. 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.
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.