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Stand out Internal Communications: A COVID-19 Guide For Business Partners and Leaders

Every single bit of information we consume now has the incessant “COVID-19” tagline. Headlines read: “Flatten The Curve” “Stay At Home” “Wash Your Hands” “#quarantinebaking” “Social Distancing” “Pandemic.”

This is true for all aspects of life and work. At times, it’s overwhelming and
tiresome! However, we know that if we want to stay informed about what is expected of us – we need this information. We have however been considering:

“When is it too much?”

“How do we filter out good quality communications rather than giving our attention to everything that’s out there?”

“What do we really need to know?”

Your teams and colleagues will also likely be asking these questions during this pandemic, and in doing so, you may find some of your emails and messages that you have painstakingly worded finding their way quite quickly in the trash folder. Don’t take it personally. It may not be about the quality of your email or message. It may be that your audience is inundated. They may be tired of reading emails and staring at screens. However, you still need to get a message across. How do you stand out?

Last week, we spoke to members of our Business Partnering Impact E-Forum. In our third forum, we discussed the fast-evolving topic of ‘Internal Communications’.

We’ve moved at warp speed from corporate hot desking to makeshift home offices and in some instances sharing this space with partners, kids and pet dogs. The joy (!) However, there is one thing we’ve left behind in this new world of COVID-19 adaptability– we cannot easily replicate meaningful access to colleagues and leaders.

Our Business Partnering Impact E-Forum group shared many creative approaches to communicating and engaging with their teams during this time. We’ve condensed these insights – five things were consistent as we spoke to our group. To avoid your messages being ignored and trashed, your messages need to have the following ‘FIVE C’s’. 

Clarity, Consistency, Connection, Care and Creativity

1. Clarity

Your message should be clear. It should use simple language and get to the point quickly. Have a clear intent about your purpose. Balance compassion and positivity with the insights and data that helps inform decision making. Don’t be tempted to paraphrase or rewrite official communications that are being issued, instead use links to refer your audience to these communications if necessary.

2. Consistency

If you can develop a rhythm to your communication, it will feel like that familiar song you find when changing radio stations (are we the only ones that still do that?). Make your messages familiar, predictable and effective. One E-Forum leader commented, “Keep the foot on the pedal with the communications during this and keep it regular.”Consistency helps our sense of safety and makes us feel more comfortable, enabling us to tune into specific and relevant key messages. This rhythm should consider aspects such as:

  • The objective and structure of your message
  • The timing and cadence of your message
  • Communication channel – align the objective of your message with the right communication channel
  • Next steps, Insight or Action – what’s the call to action (if any)

3. Connection

The famed astrophysicist and modern-day orator, Neil deGrasse Tyson, was quoted, “…when communicating, it’s not enough to be right, you have to be effective…but if you don’t have a tactic, if you don’t have a plan to enable it, to enact it, go home.”

Advice we should follow (literally). Effective communication requires planning and thought. This will help you create a connection with your audience – and really empathise. This connection enables you to be transparent and when your audience feels that the message resonates for them and that they are connected to it, they will continue to find relevance in your communications. Communication is always two-way. Ensure your
audience can respond, share a view or build on an existing idea or insight that you have provided. This is connection.

4. Care

Care and empathy in your communications will demonstrate that you see the current challenges from your employee’s perspective and you anticipate their thoughts in the communications. You are putting yourself in their shoes and addressing their concerns, questions and thoughts. One leader shared with us, their company’s strong commitment to listening to employee’s concerns during this time. They’ve surveyed their employees,
understand what’s working and what isn’t, they’re listening attentively and taking visible action to engage their employees.

5. Creativity

Your audience will receive thousands of messages via every channel imaginable every day. How do you ensure that your message stands out? The answer here is creativity, coupled with authenticity. Authenticity will increase trust in you and this helps to keep your audience engaged. Some innovative suggestions from the e-Forum included:

  • Keeping up the engagement with regular communications and uplifting activities that can be delivered virtually (e.g. Formal Friday – everyone dresses in formal wear for afternoon drinks);
  • Conduct a virtual walking meeting with a team member or colleague;
  • Run a virtual lunch and learn series – and have team members present on a relevant team topic;
  • Create an online document where the team can share ideas and solutions – this takes the pressure off leaders and gets the team actively involved.

So remember the Five C’s of Communication: Clarity, Consistency, Connection, Care and Creativity in your communications.

“It’s as easy as a,b,c” or maybe “c,c,c,c,c.”

How are you engaging with employees? How are you ensuring your communications are both impactful and relevant?

Originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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