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Top-down messaging can be a powerful way to communicate important information to your employees, but it can also go south — quickly.
These five tips (in no particular order) have helped us avoid the company telephone game.
1. Start at the top. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s worth calling out. Whether it’s the company’s annual objectives or changes to an internal process, having the message start at the top helps ensure clarity and consistency — important for both the messenger and recipient.
2. Anticipate employee questions or concerns. This has proven pretty critical when developing key messages (see tip #3 below) or other materials. Proactively anticipating — and providing messages or a document that addresses them — will better equip managers (see tip #4) to have effective two-way conversations with their employees. This also helps them avoid “stepping in it” with an incorrect or subjective answer.
3. Develop key messages and supporting materials. The key messages are the crux to clear and consistent information being cascaded all the way down the organization. But don’t stop there! Materials like FAQs, checklists and others are resources managers and employees can easily access for greater or more detailed information. Just make sure these materials aren’t in place of two-way dialogue between employees and managers.
4. Prep managers. If this list was ordered by importance, this would be #1 on ours. In most cases, managers need more than just a key messages document to understand their role and next steps in the cascade process. You want your managers to not only communicate the message, you want them to champion it. From formal training to comprehensive tool kits, managers can be a company’s most powerful channel so make sure you arm them to also be an effective one.
5. Monitor the cascade. How will you know if the cascade made it through each level of the organization? And if it did, was the message clear? How was it received? Having checkpoints in place do more than hold leaders and managers accountable for cascading the message, it also creates a feedback loop to communicate back to executives employee perceptions, questions or concerns that may be lingering.
What tips would you add to the list?
Bronn Communications is an Atlanta-based internal communications agency that helps companies reach and engage their most important audience and brand advocates—employees.