bobbie smith

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author, message master, strategist, speaker, artist (ink), social media & arts promoter

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The "C" Word

In the Communications field, the "C" word can mean numerous things.
In Internal or Employee Communications, we often refer to big "C" and little "c" communications.

Big "C" Communications tends to include official communications tactics and products that get everyone's attention in an organization: posters, banners, advertising, website splash pages, e-newsletters, town halls and major 'memos', to name a few.

Little "c" communications tends to be the internal, day-to-day business communications in a workplace about doing the work itself such messages about new procedures, processes, policies and plans, also internal emails, operational and tactical messages.

The "C" word that is missing from this discussion is Culture. These are the ideas and messages that Culture communicates:

How people behave in their workplace. 
What the culture tolerates as appropriate or inappropriate behaviour. For example, what goes unnoticed versus what gets attention
  • If people tend to hunt and peck on their keyboards in quiet cubicles and only look up if someone makes a noise, that's quite a different environment from a boisterous and collaborative culture which encourages dynamic behaviour.
  • If subtle sexism is tolerated, that gives men and women social cues on how to respond and what they are willing to tolerate if they stay in the culture.
  • Is the workplace a flex-schedule/telecommute-friendly environment where it's acceptable to work from home and/or work late hours one day and come in a little later the next? Or is it a 'you-must-physically-be-here' to be working, kind of culture?
There are many shades of grey in the culture of an organization and it does take time and effort to shift the negatives toward the positives; either way, any communicator who ignores culture will likely be ineffective, no matter how good their writing and strategies are.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What did I say yesterday?

Look at what messages have gone out before communicating new ones.

A huge mistake managers often make is to communicate new messages without reviewing what they've already said on the subject in the past, hoping no one will notice. Imagine how far a politician would get using that approach. Unfortunately, we can imagine it all too well.

The mistake is not in forgetting what you've said before; with all the messages coming from the CEO, the website, from various marketing and customer service campaigns, it's no wonder we cannot remember what we said yesterday. However, it is our job to either know or find out exactly how we characterize our messages and what we share, even long after we've shared it.

For example, if you tell your team to focus on continuous improvement and then a week later, in a weak moment, yell at someone for taking too much time to reevaluate a process, you'll lose trust and credibility--probably two of the most important badges of honour you could wear, as a manager.

Francis Norman (@FrancisNorman) echoes some of my thoughts in his August 2010 article: Consistency of message in communicating to your team. He, too, notes the example of politicians needing to stay on message and how disasterous it is when they ignore what they've already said. Norman also points out that in the context of projects, while the results may be less 'public', it is just as important to stay focused on message and goals. And that means, reviewing anything you've said in the recent past on the subject first, and communicating second.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Be interested in your employees.

Walk around the office and chat one-on-one with people, asking them about themselves, their day-to-day work, their kids, how their weekend was.

If you make time to also walk around your corporate office and talk to people individually, they remember that and will cut you a little slack when you’ve got to rush out the door the next time. It also allows you to get to know your people well, what makes them tick and what makes them successful or what makes them do their best.

Knowing your people and having a relationship or personal connection with them, however small, allows your organization to want to perform better. Those employees become a lot more willing to go above and beyond the call of duty for you.

Just make sure you are consistent. You don't want to be that manager who tries something once or twice and then gets too busy to keep it up.