Communications: Feast or Famine

When you at the front line of an organisation if can sometimes feel that you are not getting the information you need to do your job well – it can be a feast or a famine. Neither of which are fit for purpose.

In a feast, there can be an overwhelming amount of information about the top of the organisation.  The seemingly never ending game of moving executive deck chairs.  Sharing strategic documents and key messages that are intended to orchestrate the whole organisation to behave in a certain way.  These are important, however often don’t offer line of sight to what is relevant to the front line. So don’t land with the front line.  And we all know what it is like to get regular irrelevant (to your job) messages into our email boxes – they are often deleted without being read.  

In a famine you don’t hear from your leaders regularly. You feel like you and your team is in the dark…  expecting to be able to read minds about the direction of the organisation, and know who to collaborate with and when.  When this happens you cosy into your own silos, doing what you can on your own. Not an ideal outcome for organisations that are delivering at speed.

 “Fixing” this with big strategic “communications improvement program” can be difficult.   Better to let solutions emerge somewhat organically by doing small experiments with your teams on the front line, informed by what people want to know, how often and through what channel. 

Have an open mind.  Work with your teams to really understand what information they need and when. Listen to their feedback.  Put yourself in their shoes.  Operate with a mentality of “just enough” information – don’t overload people.  And offer many ways to open up communication channels – so that people can self serve when they need to. 

Set your teams up to be creative.  Ask them for 100 small experiments that could go some way to providing them with the information they need to do their job well.  Think of ideas that are working elsewhere, ideas that are new, ideas that are fun and a bit crazy.  Try lots of experiments – learn, fail early, tweak.  Repeat.  Only keep doing what works.