The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology


Ineffective Communications

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I was checking out ((I got there through the Employee Portals 2.0 blog)) Watson Wyatt’s effective communication report ((Watson Wyatt. “Effective Communication: A Leading Indicator of Financial Performance – 2005/2006 Communication ROI Study”, Retrieved from on May 7, 2006.)) and I ran across this quote: “Two-thirds of the firms with high levels of communication effectiveness are asking their managers to take on a greater share of the communication responsibility, but few are giving them the tools and training to be successful.”

I find it striking that even as organizations realize the importance of the managers role in communications, they also don’t realize that some training and guidance might be warranted. Let’s look at a couple of ideas:

  1. Managers are the front line communicators with the entire employee base
  2. Employee communications is not the core role of most operational management staff
  3. Effective communications is not a rewarded competency for most managers

There are many different routs to effective employee communications: through the brand, through print media, web media, manager/direct communication. The most effective is often an aggregate of all of the above. Organizations work hard on perfecting the brand, and have large budgets for ensuring quality print and web communications. Training managers to understand their role in the employee experience isn’t always at the forefront of the management experience. We send managers to operations courses, harassment and diversity training, and we tell them how to conduct appropriate reviews. But the routine messaging that comes out of HR is left out of the manager curriculum.

We often look to our managers as “publicists” for HR initiatives, but don’t give managers the tools, the need.

  • Basic solutions are simple: give them the talk tracks, scripts, education and time necessary to have basic knowledge.
  • Medium level solutions are also simple: convey the importance of the initiative and how it relates to the organization’s trategy – create buy-in.
  • Real solutions are more difficult however: Create real behavioral change over time to make managers engage their employees. They should want to come to HR trying to plan the next initiative they can bring to their employees – not vice versa.

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