It seems it doesn’t matter how much, or how well, you communicate internally the job is never fully done. This post explores how to be effective with staff who claim to be too busy even to look at the intranet
by Lindsay Narey
Sat on the beach one holiday, my sunbathing was interrupted by the sound of a rumbling engine in the sky. Looking up, I spotted a small plane trailing a banner advertising BOGOF drinks offer at a nearby bar. Back and forth it flew, with the colourful banner and its big bold lettering trailing in the breeze.
Unless sleeping off the effects of taking advantage of said offer, there’s no way anyone could claim not to have seen it.
On another occasion, when driving home from work, I waved at a man in a roast turkey costume. He was stood on a city centre roundabout at rush hour, advertising the Christmas menu at a local restaurant. Again, if I’d wanted to ignore this message, I wouldn’t have had much choice. Cheery Mr Turkey was unavoidable.
Clearly I never truly switch off from work, as both of these encounters got me thinking about effective communication.
In our Communications team, and I’m sure this will be familiar with the majority of readers, there are lots of sayings we hear on a regular basis. Along with perennial favourite “Can you just jazz up this leaflet/poster for me?” the title of this blog post is one of them. Conversations usually go like this:
“I didn’t know about X”
“It’s on the front page of the intranet”
“I don’t have time to look at the intranet”
End of chat.
We’re all busy. And when you’ve got customers to deal with, a team to manage, mandatory training to complete and endless other tasks it can be hard to cram everything into a day. Reading a newsletter, or looking at the intranet can seem like the obvious things to sacrifice.
A digital 24/7 world also means there are endless ways in which we can send and receive information in both our work and personal lives. How many of you have got multiple exchanges going on with your friends and family via WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter, text and email? It can be overwhelming and a challenge to keep up.
In our organisation, a large housing association with 1300 colleagues working anywhere from inner London to rural Cambridgeshire , if you want to stay informed, be savvy on the direction of the business, and learn about what your colleagues are doing, you’ve got a number of options, including:
- Going along to a snappy, one hour face to face update on what’s gone on/what’s coming up across the business from our Exec Team
- Our intranet, a central hub for news, policies, procedures, contact details, blogs.
- Monthly Manager e-briefings
- A fortnightly round-up of what’s been on the intranet – emailed to all.
- A bi-monthly magazine - sharing news and features about successes, achievements and more.
- Posters – on notice boards in kitchens, break out areas and a toilet door near you.
- From your manager
- By job shadowing
- By talking to people – asking them what they’re working on!
This might seem a lot, but there’s hopefully something to suit most situations and personal preferences. Whether office-based or remote, working in a housing scheme in Essex, or a call centre in Nottingham, or favour face to face over digital.
Whatever is right for our colleagues, what connects all of our communication channels is personal responsibility. Although the Comms team are here to support, advise, manage the majority of communications tools and try our best to make them interesting, when all is said and done, we can’t force anyone to look at them (although messages with ‘pay’ or ‘annual leave’ in the title often seem to get through). Unfortunately, we don’t have the budget to charter a banner-wielding plane over our offices when we want to impart a big message, and delivering bespoke updates dressed in roast turkey outfits is probably not efficient or appropriate.
If you’ve found the time to read this blog post, then I’d love to hear your ideas on how we best spread this message to those who say they ‘don’t have time’.
We can’t magically change embedded behaviour by posting a blog on our intranet, but if we could hammer home to our colleagues the importance and benefits of staying informed, and encourage them to take advantage of the varied communications methods we’ve got, we might hear fewer mentions of the title of this post.
Lindsay Narey is Communications Executive at Metropolitan Housing and has her own blog site here.
image via Jeremy Noble