Our Top Ten Reasons to put Face To Face Communication at the heart of your internal comms strategy
We have been conducting our Internal Communications Reviews now for 12 years and one thing we always look for is a rhythm of face to face communication throughout the organisation, from regular team meetings and ‘town halls’ to listening lunches.
The advent of the digital age with collaborative intranets and enterprise social networks has revolutionised communication, but we believe that engaging face to face communication has become more important than ever and it needs to be at the heart of any internal communications strategy if it’s to make a real difference to your organisation’s performance.
So here are our top ten reasons (in no particular order!) to get people together face to face:
1. To share plans for change
Change is a constant in most organisations these days and often the focus of increased demand on internal communications teams and resources. The best way to get people to understand the ‘burning platform’, buy into and help shape the change is to engage them face to face. We are still coming across organisations that are communicating change by email and wondering why people aren’t engaged.
2. To connect leadership and front line
Some leaders are good at this, but for many, it is low down on their priority list. Trust and confidence in the leadership is critical to the performance of any organisation – and people want to see the whites of the CEO’s eyes, especially when they are new, or in times of trouble or uncertainty – which is certainly the case at the moment following the EU Referendum. We are massive fans of creating opportunities for leadership and front-line to connect, and especially for leaders to do some listening.
3. To communicate reward and / or performance management
If there’s one thing you can’t afford to get wrong in communication it’s changes to employees’ remuneration. They won’t forgive poor communication on something so personal and important to them. So whether it’s pensions, pay grades, bonuses or the performance management process that drives their pay, communicating it face to face is key – preferably with local leadership involvement.
4. To deliver an accelerated solution to a challenge or problem
We LOVE this one because it is the perfect illustration of the power of face to face – getting a group of bright people in the same room to have a structured discussion on a big issue can move it further forward in a day than might otherwise be achieved in weeks or even months – often with tangible benefits to the business.
5. To develop your organisation’s strategy
If your strategy is to be successful you need your people to own it, so why not engage them in developing it to drive that ownership? Yes, of course you will need to give them a starter for ten, background information and some parameters to work within, but they will love being involved in shaping your future. We have done this with a simple one-off event involving a cross-section of employees, or a series of road shows – both options can work well.
6. To enable your people to help shape your brand
If you are re-branding completely or just refreshing your brand, who better to ask about what your brand should stand for than the people who are interacting with your customers on a daily basis? Again this can be done through a one-off or series of events to gather input into the development process. And don’t forget to keep people involved post-event(s) with regular updates and maybe recruit a sounding board group from event attendees to test thinking and propositions.
7. To celebrate and recognise success
It’s not unusual for a bit of recognition to be tacked onto conferences at the end of the event. But it’s great when organisations stage a dedicated special event with an awards ceremony for the sole purpose of recognising the outstanding contributions of employees. The people who are recognised feel fantastic, and hopefully it inspires others to up their game.
8. To kick off an integration
In all the mergers and acquisitions we have been involved with, one of the first things we have recommended is to get managers from both sides together early on to start to get to know each other, signal the move to becoming one organisation and reinforce their leadership role in ensuring a successful integration. Many integration programmes fail to deliver the targeted benefits because of cultural differences, so the sooner you get people together the better!
9. To help build a team
Whether they are small or large, teams are more effective when they know each other better and become united in a common purpose. We love it when we come across a business and we find that the Finance team have a conference, the IT team have a conference, and so on. It’s that rhythm of face to face communication that is so important to delivering tangible business results.
10. And last but not least – because employees want it
and delivering it will improve engagement. In every review we have completed over the years, employees tell us in our review survey and workshops that they want more face to face communication – never less! Maybe this is a reflection of the digital age – with so much of life conducted online, maybe there’s more of yearning for human interaction.