Comms, broadcasting and conversing

How do you drag out feedback from your company’s workforce? You don’t rely on emails do you?

Just a quick thought, but with regard to your company’s communications, what’s the balance between broadcasting (one to many) and your feedback channels (many to one)? Do you even encourage conversations and bottom-up communication at all?

Find your current balance

Consider the channels you and your company use to communicate:

  • email
  • intranet
  • team talk and management cascade
  • town hall
  • video briefing
  • blogs and comments
  • message board / forum

Now consider the usage of your channels – do you see which ones tend to get used by ‘the company’ and the directors? Would you say that there’s a preponderance of mass email communication, perhaps with a lot of intranet news stories?

How do you balance these broadcasting channels with the need to hear from your people on the ground? Where are the feedback channels?

Don’t rely on email for feedback

But anyone can email me with their observations, ideas or concerns” your CEO says. Yeah, sure. But how many of your staff know that? And what do they really think will happen when they send a frank email to the boss? Nothing? Or something worse…?

If you want people to feel listened to, you can’t just expect people to take the initiative and blast of emails to the board of directors. Why would people feel comfortable doing that?

Email feedback channels have to be promoted, and the use of them needs to be publicised. Imagine that Geoff sends an email to the CEO observing that contractors at the sites have no car park spaces allocated to them, even if they’ve been ‘with’ the company for over a year. Not only should the CEO reflect and respond to Geoff, but the Internal Communications team should work with the CEO to get something on the intranet to show the CEO’s response. It doesn’t have to be front page news, but a regularly updated section of the intranet with CEO conversational pieces can help the staff see what happens when they use a feedback channel.

You can always email me” I say – and you can, and I’ll make sure I demonstrate I’ve listened.

So, what channels have I missed, and how do you solicit feedback from the workforce?

  1. I think we have a pretty decent mix, and we’re currently working to reduce the number of email blasts sent company-wide.

    Your idea to publish CEO questions & answers is interesting. Our CEO has a reputation for responding quickly to anyone, but I don’t think we’ve ever approached him with that idea. I’ll have to bring it up!

    We do have a mechanism for employees to ask questions, but admittedly, I’ve been bad about keeping up with it. (It looks like I just committed to my first task of 2009 tomorrow.) It’s a simple web form that allows for anonymity (of which I’m not really a fan).

    Overall, I prefer to participate in blogs and forums and help people there. But I should respect employees’ preferences, too.

  2. Hello Jeremy – have you just started blogging about Comms? How exciting! Do you have a Twitter account we can connect on? I’m Wedge.

    I’m in two-minds over anonymity too, I can see both sides of using it. We tend not to use it.

    Hope to see you again.

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