Making sure employees have the right amount of information they need to do their jobs is a common struggle for many social sector organizations, particularly ones in a lifecycle transition. Where a simple conversation or email used to be sufficient for conveying relevant information, it does not have the same reach or impact when the organization adds staff, expands to multiple sites or creates more departments or programs. This should not be a surprise to our longtime Social TrendSpotters, but fixing your communication breakdowns starts with the end in mind. Here are a few creative tools to help achieve communication wins at your organization.
Communication Tool: Town Hall Meeting
Description: A town hall meeting is an open forum where employees may discuss a particular set of issues and ask questions of the organization’s leadership.
Good for: Town hall meetings are great for increasing clarity on a particular issue for employees and management. The open forum format is transparent and allows leadership to gauge the temperature of their teams while efficiently conveying information to all. Town hall meetings are helpful for addressing or inoculating concerns about changes in the organization like paid time-off policies or initiatives that will affect day-to-day work like strategic plans or mergers. However, this may not the best first step for communicating controversial issues as initial reactions can kill constructive dialogue.
Communication Tool: Office Layout
Description: The physical layout of your office, including where departments and physical structures like buildings and walls are located, can facilitate or be a barrier to effective communication.
Good for: Reconfiguring your office layout can be great for breaking down siloes and building camaraderie. For example, intermixing development staff with program staff rather than isolating the two creates opportunities for often contentious teams to build understanding and teamwork. By witnessing each other’s daily struggles and hearing informal conversations, staff from different teams will glean new information that can improve the organization’s overall operations.
Communication Tool: Dashboards
Description: Dashboards are snapshots of key organizational metrics with action plans to achieve those goals.
Good for: Dashboards are great barometers for the entire organization to track progress on goals. Conflict tends to arise when there is uncertainty about who is responsible for certain a task or what the next steps or deadlines are. Dashboards clearly communicate key steps to achieving organizational goals, assign responsibility for milestones and allow team members to note status updates so anyone in the organization knows exactly where an initiative stands. Organizations can also utilize culture assessment surveys to get a picture of where the staff stands and track communication goals on those dashboards to measure progress.
While the tried and true newsletter, email or staff meeting certainly have their place in communicating important information to your team, research shows more communication doesn’t equal better performance. Starting with the end in mind and sharing new insights can make the difference. We invite you to share your communication wins with us and join us next week for our blog on crisis communications.