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Employee communication


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Employee communication

  1. 1. Employee Communication: 5 Ways LeadersCan Communicate Change Guest articles > Employee Communication: 5 Ways Leaders Can Communicate Changeby: Marcia XenitelisI am often asked about the role of the CEO or leader of any organization in employeecommunication. My opinion is that no matter what the issue is, even if it is just business asusual, having a good communicator as a CEO is critical to impact the culture of anorganization in a positive way.Lets start with looking at some scenarios. These can include a merger or acquisition, anorganizational crisis, announcement of annual financial results, corporate socialresponsibility or even trying to create a culture of innovation.My contention is that no matter what the issue, here are 5 ways that your CEO cancommunicate with employees and achieve positive outcomes each time. Most of themethods listed below involve face to face dialogue to ensure the greatest engagement.1. Staff Forums – Otherwise known as “Town Halls” these are opportunities for the CEOand Senior Management team to visit employees in all locations and address the real issuesand concerns of staff as well as communicating the big picture. Employee communicationtips include handing out cards to attendees so that the questions can be addressed after abreak in proceedings, tailoring the presentation in part to the unique situation in theparticular region the CEO is visiting and following up any issues that cannot be answered atthe time.2. Site Visits – These are an excellent employee communication tool for the CEO to findout specifically from the frontline exactly what the issues and concerns are of a particularregion or department. The key is not only to spend time with the leadership team but alsoto sit with employees and find out what they are working on and inviting them to suggestinnovative ways of doing things differently. CEOs rarely spend time communicating withemployees and this is one way to break down perceptions and encourage two waycommunication.3. Employee Achievement – Another way the CEO can communicate change is to supportand encourage employees personally for their achievements. These maybe directly relatedto the issue at hand and by taking time out to recognize high achievers or change agents itsends a strong message to all employees that the CEO will reward those who support andare engaged in the change agenda.4. Leaderships Forums – One of the smartest things an CEO can do during times ofchange is to communicate with his / her leadership team. I have always found thatemployee communication strategies need to be pitched at different levels and with differentstrategies to suit the role and expectations of the employees. When we think of change it isthe leadership team that will drive it, from regional managers, state managers to frontlinesupervisors it is important that the CEO communicates face to face with the leadershipteam to be very clear about his or her expectation of them during times of change. One
  2. 2. employee communication tip here is that face to face one on one meetings be held with thedirect reports to the CEO and the next level down; it is a very powerful tool and hasmaximum impact.5. CEO Blog – Finally where would we be if we did not mention some form of technologydriven communication tool. A CEO blog is very effective if it is used to support and reporton the transformation process whilst the employee engagement strategy is underway. Forexample the CEO has one on one meetings with the leadership team, he / she then reportsin the Blog on the key messages and expectations. The CEO begins visits to each regionand reports back on the Blog the key observations and achievements of employees and soon. Employee communication tools to inform are always a back up and support to the realcommunication taking place, the employee communication engagement strategies as listedin points 1 – 4 above.The methods suggested above also achieve another goal often neglected in employeecommunication. As this is the opportunity for the CEO to find out what people at all levelsof the organization really think about a particular issue, it will cause the CEO to thinkdifferently next time about the importance of employee communication and will ensure thatchange communication is addressed at the planning phase of any major organizationalchange.About the author: Marcia Xenitelis is a recognized authority on the subject on employeecommunication and business transformation and has spoken at conferences around theworld. For more information on the types of employee communication strategies you canimplement to engage employees visit for a wealth offree informative articles and resources.Contributor: Marcia XenitelisPublished here on: 2-Dec-07Classification: Leadership, CommunicationsWebsite: www.employeecommunicationtips.comMSWord: CommunicateChange.doc
  3. 3. Employee Communication: 5 Tips To EngageEmployees Guest articles > Employee Communication: 5 Tips To Engage Employeesby: Marcia XenitelisWhen we think of employee communication most organizations focus on information tools.These include intranet sites, staff magazines, CEO blog, Town Hall meetings and so on.Whilst all these employee communication methods are to be applauded, they informemployees about what is going on. To truly engage employees in the process of change, forinstance, a merger or acquisition, a re-organization, financial results or corporate socialresponsibility, employee communication methods need to be designed to actively engageemployees.Employee engagement should always result in some positive change of behaviour which willthen lead to the achievement of organizational goals. Just distributing information by any ofthe above methods will not achieve the change in employee behaviour and organizationaloutcomes you are looking for.Here are 5 tips that will ensure that your employee communication methods do achievethose outcomes. 1. The first tip is to establish whether the tools and methods you are currently using to communicate with employees are engagement strategies or information tools. So gather all the tools used and identify all the methods used, their frequency, intended audience, whether they are one way or two way communication vehicles and review the key messages. 2. The second tip is important because your ultimate aim in employee communication has to be to create the “Aha Moment”. The “Aha Moment” is based on information that challenges the employee’s belief about an aspect of the business. The information that suddenly helps employees say, “Now it makes sense”, “Now I understand”, “Now I can do something about it”. Once you know what the “Aha Moment” is this will form your key message and the basis of your design of your employee communication strategy. 3. This third tip explains the best type of research to find out what the “Aha Moment” is, and the best type for this purpose is focus group research. Focus group research allows you to ask employees about your business and their thoughts on competitors, to identify the largest gap between what customers think and what staff think customers think, and to identify what would create a paradigm shift in employee’s thinking. It also helps you identify how you will measure the impact of the change in employees thinking and to determine how significant it is to achieving the business objectives. Focus groups are a good format as they allow you to explore issues further and sometimes you will discover issues or ideas you hadn’t considered prior to the session. Focus groups generally are held for one and a half hours duration and in groups of 8 – 10 participants. As the facilitator, your role is to lead the discussion but leave the actual dialogue to the participants, bringing them back to the main issue if they have gone off on a tangent or to ensure that all the topics that you wanted to cover within the allocated timeframe are covered. A well facilitated focus group will
  4. 4. identify the key messages for your employee communication strategies as they relate to a particular business issue. 4. The fourth tip is that once you have your focus group outcomes, you can then begin designing employee communication strategies that engage employees. You should have a clear understanding about what employees know and what the facts are, and the gap between the business facts and staff perceptions. This forms your key message to create the “Aha Moment”. 5. The fifth tip is that you take the key information from the focus groups, identify a business issue that you feel sure your employee communication strategies can impact on. By using that information and work together with that area of the business you then implement an employee communication strategy that can be measured by business outcomes.Once you have gathered all this information you then need to design employeecommunication strategies that engage employees around the one central message. Many ofthese employee communication strategies will actively involve employees in some aspect ofchange by designing communication methods that will require employees to participate.These engagement strategies are then supplemented by employee communicationinformation tools.About the author: Marcia Xenitelis is a recognized authority on the subject on employeecommunication and has spoken at conferences around the world. For more information onthe types of employee communication strategies you can implement to engage employeesvisit her website for a wealth of informative articlesand resources.Contributor: Marcia XenitelisPublished here on:Classification: CommunicationsWebsite: www.employeecommunicationtips.comMSWord: EmployeeComm5T.doc
  5. 5. Return to home page Developing Skills for Personal Move to previous page Effectiveness Unit no FG4D Move to next page Communication skills Barriers to effective communicationBARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONNo matter how good the communication system in an organisation is, unfortunatelybarriers can and do often occur. This may be caused by a number of factors which canusually be summarised as being due to physical barriers, system design faults oradditional barriers.Physical barriers are often dueto the nature of the environment.Thus, for example, the natural barrierwhich exists, if staff are located indifferent buildings or on different sites.Likewise, poor or outdated equipment,particularly the failure of managementto introduce new technology, may alsocause problems.Staff shortages are another factorwhich frequently causescommunication difficulties for anorganisation.Whilst distractions like backgroundnoise, poor lighting or an environmentwhich is too hot or cold can all affectpeoples morale and concentration,
  6. 6. which in turn interfere with effectivecommunication.System design faults refer toproblems with the structures orsystems in place in an organisation. Examples might include anorganisational structure which isunclear and therefore makes itconfusing to know who tocommunicate with.Other examples could be inefficient orinappropriate information systems, alack of supervision or training, and alack of clarity in roles andresponsibilities which can lead to staffbeing uncertain about what isexpected of them.Attitudinal barriers comeabout as a result of problems with staffin an organisation.These may be brought about, forexample, by such factors as poormanagement, lack of consultation withemployees, personality conflicts whichcan result in people delaying orrefusing to communicate, the personalattitudes of individual employeeswhich may be due to lack ofmotivation or dissatisfaction at work,brought about by insufficient trainingto enable them to carry out particulartasks, or just resistance to change dueto entrenched attitudes and ideas.OTHER COMMON BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONINCLUDE:
  7. 7. Psychological factors such as peoplesstate of mind. We all tend to feel happier andmore receptive to information when the sunshines.Equally, if someone has personal problems likeworries about their health or marriage, then thiswill probably affect them.Different languages and culturesrepresent a national barrier which is particularlyimportant for organisations involved in overseasbusiness.Individual linguistic ability is alsoimportant. The use of difficult or inappropriatewords in communication can prevent people fromunderstanding the message.Poorly explained or misunderstood messages canalso result in confusion. We can all think ofsituations where we have listened to somethingexplained which we just could not grasp.Physiological barriers may result fromindividuals personal discomfort, caused, forexample, by ill health, poor eye sight or hearingdifficulties.Presentation of information is alsoimportant to aid understanding.
  8. 8. Most people would agree that communication between two individuals should be simple. It’s important to rememberthat there are differences between talking and communicating. When you communicate, you are successful in gettingyour point across to the personyou’re talking to. When we talk, we tend to erect barriers that hinder our ability to communicate. There are seven ofthese types of barriers to effective communication.Physical barriers are easy to spot – doors that are closed, walls that are erected, and distance between people allwork against the goal of effective communication. While most agree that people need their own personal areas in theworkplace, setting up an office to remove physical barriers is the first step towards opening communication. Manyprofessionals who work in industries that thrive on collaborative communication, such as architecture, purposefullydesign their workspaces around an “open office” plan. This layout eschews cubicles in favor of desks grouped arounda central meeting space. While each individual has their own dedicated work space, there are no visible barriers toprevent collaboration with their co-workers. This encourages greater openness and frequently creates closer workingbonds.Perceptual barriers, in contrast, are internal. If you go into a situation thinking that the person you are talking to isn’tgoing to understand or be interested in what you have to say, you may end up subconsciously sabotaging your effortto make your point. You will employ language that is sarcastic, dismissive, or even obtuse, thereby alienating yourconversational partner. Think of movie scenarios in which someone yells clipped phrases at a person they believe isdeaf. The person yelling ends up looking ridiculous while failing to communicate anything of substance.Emotional barriers can be tough to overcome, but are important to put aside to engage in conversations. We areoften taught to fear the words coming out of our own mouths, as in the phrase “anything you say can and will be usedagainst you.” Overcoming this fear is difficult, but necessary. The trick is to have full confidence in what you aresaying and your qualifications in saying it. People often pick up on insecurity. By believing in yourself and what youhave to say, you will be able to communicate clearly without becoming overly involved in your emotions.Cultural barriers are a result of living in an ever shrinking world. Different cultures, whether they be a societal cultureof a race or simply the work culture of a company, can hinder developed communication if two different culturesclash. In these cases, it is important to find a common ground to work from. In work situations, identifying a problemand coming up with a highly efficient way to solve it can quickly topple any cultural or institutional barriers. Quitesimply, people like results.Language barriers seem pretty self-inherent, but there are often hidden language barriers that we aren’t alwaysaware of. If you work in an industry that is heavy in jargon or technical language, care should be taken to avoid thesewords when speaking with someone from outside the industry. Without being patronizing, imagine explaining asituation in your industry to a child. How would you convey these concepts without relying on jargon? A clear, direct
  9. 9. narrative is preferable to an incomprehensible slew ofspecialty terms.Gender barriers have become less of an issue in recent years, but there is still the possibility for a man tomisconstrue the words of a woman, or vice versa. Men and women tend to form their thoughts differently, and thismust be taken into account when communicating. This difference has to do with how the brain of each sex is formedduring gestation. In general, men are better at spatial visualization and abstract concepts such as math, while womenexcel at language-based thinking and emotional identification. However, successful professionals in highlycompetitive fields tend to have similar thought processes regardless of their gender.Interpersonal barriers are what ultimately keep us from reaching out to each other and opening ourselves up, not justto be heard, but to hear others. Oddly enough, this can be the most difficult area to change. Some people spend theirentire lives attempting to overcome a poor self-image or a series of deeply rooted prejudices about their place in theworld. They are unable to form genuine connections with people because they have too many false perceptionsblocking the way. Luckily, the cure for this is more communication. By engaging with others, we learn what our actualstrengths and weaknesses are. This allows us to put forth our ideas in a clear, straightforward manner.Communication is not a one-way street. To have others open up to you, you must be open yourself. By overcomingthese barriers to communication, you can ensure that the statement you are making is not just heard, but alsounderstood, by the person you are speaking with. In this way, you can be confident that your point has beenexpressed.Have you had difficulty communicating an idea in the past? Were you able to solve the problem? Is so,
  10. 10. BarrierExplanationLanguageThe communication message might not use vocabulary that is understood by the receiver – e.g.too much use of technical or financial jargonNoiseVarious things stop a message from getting through or being heard – e.g. poor connection,background noise, distractions, too many people speakingOverloadToo much information can cause problems e.g. slow down decision makingEmotionThe relationship between the sender and receiver of communication might adversely affect themessage – which could be ignored or misinterpretedGapsToo many intermediaries (e.g. too many layers in hierarchy through which message has to bepassed) might prevent or distort the messageInconsistencyIf people receive conflicting or inconsistent messages, then they may ignore or block them
  11. 11. Communication is a process by which you convey your message to someone or a group of people. Andif the message is conveyed clearly and unambiguously, then it is known as effective communication.In effective communication, the message you had sent would reach the receiver with very littledistortion. However, a communication becomes successful only if the receiver understands what thesender is trying to convey. When your message is not clearly understood, there is every likelihood thatyou are facing a barrier in communicating effectively. Barriers to effective communication could causea roadblock in your professional and personal life and it could be one of the major hurdles in achievingyour professional goals.An effective communication barrier is one of the problems faced by many organizations. Many socialpsychologists opine that there is 50% to 70% loss of meaning while conveying the messages from asender to a receiver. They estimate there are four basic places where communication could beinterpreted wrongly. A few barriers of effective communication in an organization are given below.Physical Barriers - One of the major barriers of communication in a workplace is the physicalbarrier. Physical barriers in an organization includes large working areas that are physically separatedfrom others. Other distractions that could cause a physical barrier in an organization areenvironmental factors such as background noise. Check out more information on physical barriers toeffective communication.Language - Inability to converse in a language that is known by both the sender and receiver is thegreatest barrier to effective communication. When a person uses inappropriate words while conversingor writing, it could lead to misunderstanding between the sender and a receiver. It is not only thedifference in language that causes a barrier to effective communication. People speaking the samelanguage can sometimes find it difficult to comprehend what is being said. For example, a lorry is atruck, and an elevator is a lift. This difference in vocabulary can pose a barrier to effectivecommunication.Emotions - Your emotions could be a barrier to communication if you are engrossed in them for somereason. In such cases, you tend to have trouble listening to others or understanding the messageconveyed to you. A few of the emotional interferences include hostility, anger, resentfulness and fear.People who suffer from ailments such as anxiety and depression, tend to misconstrue what is beingsaid about them. Also, as they are battling something in their head, they may or may not be able topay full attention to the speaker, which may make them appear disinterested and spaced-out.Lack of Subject Knowledge - If a person who sends a message lacks subject knowledge then hemay not be able to convey his message clearly. The receiver could misunderstand his message andthis could lead to a barrier to effective communication. This is visible in cases where people may try tocover-up their ignorance with some unverified facts. When I was working for a customer careorganization, I saw many employees say irrelevant and unverified things to customers, just to avoidbeing labeled as ignorant. This creates confusion in the mind of the listener and creates a barrier tocommunication.Overdose of Information - Have you been to a meeting where the presenter talks about relevantthings but goes on with it in such a quick manner that you have no clue as to what was mentionedearlier. If you have experienced this issue, then you might know how it creates confusion andambiguity. When too much of information is conveyed in a short span of time, there is every likelihoodthat the receiver would not be able to comprehend the information fully.The above-mentioned barriers to effective communication are considered as filters of communications.You can overcome the barriers to communication through effective and active listening.
  12. 12. By Maya PillaiLast Updated: 12/14/2011Ads by Google