June 22nd, 2018
In part three of our series on organizational health we explore the need to communicate the clarity we defined in part two by communicating that clarity repetitiously. If the core messages relaying the priorities of an organization are not communicated repeatedly, the message will be quickly lost and forgotten. How many times have you attended a company town hall meeting given by the CEO where s/he reviews a presentation explaining the organization’s direction, priorities, timelines, roadmap, etc. and everyone leaves the meeting excited and charged to start making change; then six months later that message and call to action has all been forgotten? The flawed thinking here is the executive leadership team thinks they’ve completed their job by simply communicating the message once. The first communication of that message is simply step one of executive leadership’s job to communicate clarity. This article will explain the importance of why those messages need to be repeated to become engrained in the organization.
There are many reasons why top leaders fail to repeat key messages or priorities over and over again. Whether its because they don’t want to sound insulting or patronizing, or they believe repeating the same message is simply a waste of time, it fails to drive home the importance that communicating repetitiously institutes authenticity and creditability. If employees hear the same message repeatedly by leadership and by other employees and staff, they are more likely to embrace the message once they understand how it affects the organization and what their role is to help the organization successfully achieve the results of that message. The weight and priority of the message should dictate when and how often the message is delivered. The same message can be delivered through a variety of different methods or mechanisms. This could range from something simple like email reminders to something more extravagant like a full-blown marketing media blitz with videos that include actual employees. Another approach to communicating repetitiously is to use a technique called cascading communication. This strategy has senior leadership exit their meetings and communicate the directives down to their direct reports. The three secrets to cascading communication are: there needs to be message consistency from one leader to another, timeliness of delivery, and real-time communication. If possible, executive leadership should meet all their direct reports in person; that way when the message(s) are delivered it gives the opportunity to ask questions and get real-time clarification before repeating that message down the chain to next level reports. Executive leaders should always ask themselves the question “what is the unified message we are going to communicate back to our direct reports?” This ensures the message remains cohesive when using cascading communication. We live in a world today where employees have more access to information, websites, webinars, newsletters, announcements, etc. than ever before. So why do they feel more uninformed than ever? It’s not about the volume of data that gets relayed, but it’s the core messages that are conveyed regularly and consistently.
So how do we know when we have successfully communicated clarity repetitiously? First, it’s when executive leadership has clearly communicated the six questions of clarity to all employees and organizational staff. Second, when employees and staff consistently remind their colleagues in their departments about those answers of clarity. Third, when both leadership and teams leave meetings with specific agreements about what to communicate to their direct reports, and then they ensure those messages are cascaded down the chain quickly after meetings. Fourth, when all employees and staff can accurately articulate the organization’s reason for its existence, its values, objectives and goals. Let your executive leadership know this is what you expect from them and ask how you can help to do your part to make sure that repetitive communication is successful across the organization.