Monday 11st May 2020
We recently shared a blog post on how to communicate effectively with staff during business change, which got me thinking about one of the key areas to consider, ‘Remember individuals’. This can feel daunting when working in a large organisation with thousands of employees so how do you do this in reality? For me, the answer is line manager communication. As a central internal communication function, there is only so much we can do and while all employee updates and internal newsletters to name a few have their place, it is the translation and reinforcement of messages which really makes a difference with employees. So here are my tips to great line manager communication:
Don’t be a parrot
The question, ‘so what’s in it for me?’ is a key one which only line managers can address. It is their job to translate (not repeat) the messages which come from above and work out the detail of what that means for their team. There is no way that a group communication can cover the impact on every single team, let alone on an individual level so take the key messages and bring them to life using real life examples that your team can relate to.
Don’t be scared to ask for help
So we’ve agreed that communication is a necessary skill for every line manage but that doesn’t mean that every person who finds themselves in a line manager role will be a natural born communicator. That’s ok. This is where the role of the Internal Communicator can come into play, coaching the line manager and supporting them in the process of interpreting key messages and sharing them with their teams. So if you find yourself new to line management or having to interpret a particularly difficult message, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
Once the line manager feels comfortable with the process of translating a message, the key role that they can play is that of reinforcer. Somebody once told me that you have to have a ‘1000 conversations’ for something to really sink in and while I think was an exaggeration, it does stress the importance of repetition. Using team meetings and 121’s are a great way to reinforce messages but every conversation with an employee should be seen as an opportunity to remind them of your key messages. It might feel forced at times but the more you do it, the more it will become ingrained behaviour and you’ll find yourself doing it without thinking about it.