Internal Communications Excellence:Engaging Middle Management to Align With Senior Leadership                and Energize ...
Table of Contents Executive Brief                                2 Communication Definitions                      4 Bus...
Communication Definitions Used in this Report New Media: Technological forms of communication that have been relatively re...
Business Issue & ObjectivesAs companies continue to progress through a tumultuous business environment,organizations must ...
Universe of Learning & InsightsFor this benchmarking study, Best Practices®, LLC gathered insights and performancedata fro...
Middle Managers Do “OK” with Translating Messages Most respondents rated their middle managers “good” or “neutral” in tran...
Majority Do Not Effectively Measure Message RecallAs the graph below shows, most companies either do not use or cannot dep...
Most Leaders Say Middle Managers Are InformedAbout StrategyMost benchmark companies keep their middle managers well-inform...
Strategy, Goals & Updates Communicated QuarterlyFor most companies, key information types (e.g., strategy, performance goa...
Managers Trained to Handle “Difficult Conversations” The majority of respondents provide training to middle managers on ha...
About Best Practices, LLCBest Practices, LLC is a research and consulting firm that conductswork based on the simple yet p...
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Internal Communications Excellence: Engaging Middle Management

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In this competitive marketplace, organizations need effective internal communication practices to ensure that critical leadership messages around products, strategy and goals are successfully conveyed to employees. In many companies, middle management acts as the communication bridge between corporate leadership and employees. Unfortunately, middle management can also act as a communication barrier or bottleneck that inhibits effective internal communications.
Best Practices, LLC conducted this research to spotlight winning approaches, tools, and technologies that help leadership effectively communicate to and through middle management. Specifically, this study measures the effectiveness of different communication message types, channels used, and sending frequencies. It also addresses the role of communication skills in hiring, evaluating and training middle managers.

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Internal Communications Excellence: Engaging Middle Management

  1. 1. Internal Communications Excellence:Engaging Middle Management to Align With Senior Leadership and Energize the Front Line Best Practices, LLC Strategic Benchmarking Research
  2. 2. Table of Contents Executive Brief 2 Communication Definitions 4 Business Issues and Objectives 5 Key Findings & Recommendations 6 About the Benchmark Class 7 Message Channels 12 Message Recall 17 Strategy Alignment 23 Hiring and Training Communicators 26 Appendix 35  Additional Quotes 36  About Best Practices 37 2 Copyright © Best Practices, LLC
  3. 3. Communication Definitions Used in this Report New Media: Technological forms of communication that have been relatively recently accepted in the workplace. These forms include, but are not limited to: instant messaging, SharePoint, text messaging, video messaging, and blogs. Traditional Media: Forms of communication that have traditionally been accepted within the workplace. These forms include face-to-face discussions, emails, and phone calls. 3 Copyright © Best Practices, LLC
  4. 4. Business Issue & ObjectivesAs companies continue to progress through a tumultuous business environment,organizations must ensure that best practices, strategic insights and organizational goalscascade throughout the company. One potential hindrance is a communications barrierwithin middle management. Objectives: • Spotlight winning approaches, tools, and technologies that help leadership effectively communicate to and through middle management • Understand how to frame messages in such a way that they are retained • Discover new, critical trends emerging regarding technology and communication Field Research & Insight Development: Objective:  Engaged 26 communications executives from 23 Formulate a Strategic INFORM INFORM companies in a performance benchmark Approach for Removing Communications  Analyzed quantitative and qualitative findings Bottlenecks within Middle Management 4 Copyright © Best Practices, LLC
  5. 5. Universe of Learning & InsightsFor this benchmarking study, Best Practices®, LLC gathered insights and performancedata from 26 communication leaders representing 23 leading national and globalorganizations. 5 Copyright © Best Practices, LLC
  6. 6. Middle Managers Do “OK” with Translating Messages Most respondents rated their middle managers “good” or “neutral” in translating messages to direct reports. However, 1 in 4 rated middle manager’s translation effectiveness as only “fair” or “poor.” Message Translation Effectiveness: When passing along messages from senior management to direct reports, how well do middle managers translate the messages to make them relevant to direct reports and their jobs? 6 (n=26) Copyright © Best Practices, LLC
  7. 7. Majority Do Not Effectively Measure Message RecallAs the graph below shows, most companies either do not use or cannot depend on mostmeasurement types. The sole exception – “formal message recall testing” – was at leastsomewhat effective for more than half of respondents that employ the tactic. Message Recall Measurement: Please rate the effectiveness of the following message recall measurement approaches for tracking communication effectiveness through your organization. (n=23) 7 Copyright © Best Practices, LLC
  8. 8. Most Leaders Say Middle Managers Are InformedAbout StrategyMost benchmark companies keep their middle managers well-informed regarding the overallcorporate strategy of the company, with nearly 1 in 4 stating that their middle managers are“very informed” about overall important programs and initiatives. Middle Management Alignment: In general, how well informed are your company’s Middle Managers regarding corporate strategy, programs and important initiatives? (Choose one.) * Not informed = 0% (n=26) 8 Copyright © Best Practices, LLC
  9. 9. Strategy, Goals & Updates Communicated QuarterlyFor most companies, key information types (e.g., strategy, performance goals) are communicatedquarterly. One notable exception is employee transitions, which are communicated morefrequently. A number of respondents find it important to alert middle managers about newproducts and services, and division strategy and updates frequently – on at least a monthly basis. On average, how frequently does senior leadership communicate the following types of information to middle management employees? (Choose one frequency per item.) (n=26) 9 Copyright © Best Practices, LLC
  10. 10. Managers Trained to Handle “Difficult Conversations” The majority of respondents provide training to middle managers on handling difficult conversations with employees who report to them. In addition, 40% of participating organizations provide coaching on public speaking. Communication Training: What type of formal communication skill training does your company provide for middle management employees? (Check all that apply) Other Responses: •“My learning with series of training sessions on various topics” •“Depends on employee -- middle managers tend to identify training themselves as opposed to it being dictated by the company” •“Periodic special training” •“Engaging / creating a dialogue” •“General communications training” •Effective Presentation” Note: Communicating Through Video Formats = 0% (n=25) 10 Copyright © Best Practices, LLC
  11. 11. About Best Practices, LLCBest Practices, LLC is a research and consulting firm that conductswork based on the simple yet profound principle that organizationscan chart a course to superior economic performance by studyingthe best business practices, operating tactics and winning strategies of world-class Segment. Best Practices, LLC 6350 Quadrangle Drive, Suite 200, Chapel Hill, NC 27517 919-403-0251 bestpractices@best-in-class.com www.best-in-class.com

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