Investors and financial advisers offer this advice to their clients all the time: diversify your investments. Don’t put all your money in one stock or one savings account.
When we think about how to message to our employees, we need to have the same mindset as investors. I talk with so many leaders who get so frustrated because their employees don’t read their announcements delivered via mass email distribution lists. Some organizations even have policies around making employees responsible for any message distributed to their email.
What happens when our inbox have hundreds or thousands of emails because everyone uses email as their sole method of communication? How do we better our chances of reaching our employees without intimidating them?
The answer is simple in concept but difficult to carry out: diversify your communication portfolio. This doesn’t mean send one message via email, newsletter, text, voicemail and website. You wouldn’t just invest your money in a number of random stocks to better your chances. You would do some thoughtful research and evaluation, or at least your financial adviser would do that for you. So, do this with your communication strategy.
Evaluate each message to determine what the best method of delivery will be. Some messages don’t need to go out using multiple avenues. Here are just a few example guidelines to get you started:
- Emails should be concise. They should be to the point and they should usually have a call to action. For example, you might use email to send a reminder to your team that they have a deadline coming up and outline the list of outstanding items.
- Websites are great for a lot of things. These can include intranet or extranet sites, which are used as employee portals. Policies and procedures, special events and Human Resources information are great things to post.
- Newsletters should be for positive things. Don’t use this to announce a mass layoff. Use it to encourage, inspire and motivate employees. Newsletters are also helpful in promoting events or organizational news.
- Text messages are great for urgent matters. Like inboxes though, people don’t want their phones being bombarded with text messages that are irrelevant, informational or repetitive.
While this post focuses a lot on how to diversify downward communication and dissemination of information, leaders and organizations should also encourage the concept of diversification when engaging in upward and lateral communication.
Similar to the idea that people learn differently, we also receive messages differently. I, personally, only respond to text messages that require an immediate action on my part. If I’m at work and someone texts me about plans for a future project or assignment, I read it and make a mental note to follow-up in person but often forget to do it. Get to know your coworkers, your employees and your bosses and how they prefer to communicate. Then, do your best to diversify your communication strategy to meet their needs. It’s an investment worth making.