Archive | January 2014

Communicating with your employees

Do you ever wonder if your workers are listening to communications from the company?  Maybe the way information is communicated has a bearing on that.  There are several ways that employees may prefer to communicate, or may better understand communication.  The basic forms of communication are:

Visual—I see what you are saying.

Auditory—I hear your point.

Kinesthetic—Let’s see how that feels.

The majority of people learn via visual communication, approximately 80%—they need to see it.  A smaller percentage are auditory, maybe 15%—they need to hear it said.  The other five percent need to be “hands on.”  There may now be a fourth form—Digital.  While it likely fits into the Visual category, many people now need to receive a message or other electronic communication for information to “stick.”

On a personal level, it is important for you to determine what method a particular person prefers.  When communicating more broadly, though, to a group of employees, it is helpful to utilize means of communication that incorporate all or most of these methods.  For instance, with a policy change, it is helpful to discuss the change in a meeting, provide the written policy, send it via electronic message, and when possible allow the employees to experience in advance how the changes may affect their work.

Overseeing Use of Email

While it may not be subject to a strict policy, use of email and electronic communication policing often falls to HR.  But sometimes there are specific personnel policies implicated such as social media, confidentiality, use of company devices, or harassment policies.  Effective email use and email etiquette are important even if no policy applies.  Consider whether a primer on email for your employees would be helpful.  There are probably countless topics that you could cover, but here are some of my areas of concern:

1.  Subject line.  It is beneficial to describe the topic in the message line, whether by project or client or task.  That helps the recipient identify what is important and stay organized.

2.  Unnecessary use.  Email can turn into a game of hot potato.  Also, there are often innocuous or unclear replies that serve no purpose.  If the message does not advance the conversation, don’t send it.

3.  Case and punctuation matter.  ALL CAPS ARE HARD TO READ and akin to yelling.  Lack of punctuation can compromise clarity.

4.  Control over destination.  Remind employees that once a message is sent, its final destination is out of the sender’s hands.  What was meant as a simple comment or snide remark can be distributed to co-workers, customers, or competitors.

5.  Security and safety.  Recall that sending email can resemble sending a postcard through the mail.  It, along with its attachments and information about its participants, can be seen or obtained by others unless encrypted or protected.

6.  Record.  Email can create a record of information when there need not be one.  The volume of communication through email is staggering, and consideration of the implications of sending messages is often ignored.