Communicating with Employees

One of the most valuable training courses I ever took was one entitled “Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce”…

It really brought to the forefront the situation facing most leaders today in that there’s often such a wide disparity between your youngest & oldest employee.

That’s means that you’ll probably have Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials & now, post-Millennials all interacting in your work environment!

And while it’s helpful to recognize the various differences amongst the generations, the most important thing is to acknowledge that differences do, indeed, exist!

One of these differences involves the use of different communications vehicles in helping to deliver your message to your audience.

Some of your people (probably the Baby Boomers) would prefer to receive information in written, hard-copy format.

Others (Gen X) may gravitate more to verbal communications.

And your Millennials/post-Millennials grew up in the age of electronic communications.

To recognize these differences, while trying to balance the practical with the true needs of your organization, is vital to your & your people’s success.

Simply put…one size probably DOESN’T fit all!

What to do? While I would NOT recommend “assigning different communication methodologies” to “each group” (“I’ll meet with the Gen Xers, send an e-mail to the Millennials & then distribute a hard-copy memo…”), I certainly wouldn’t rule out utilizing all 3 methodologies to deliver critical & important information.

If you hold a staff meeting, for example, don’t forget to send out an e-mail afterwards to all participants summarizing the important points as well as distributing a summary sheet (if applicable) of key topics or reminders.

More importantly, you can’t assume that any single method will be totally effective or even, as effective as using a combination of different communications tools.

The mission is to deliver a clear & understandable message…and to ensure (as best you can) the comprehension & absorption of said information by each & every employee.

Each & every employee.

This is really not a situation where majority rules. You simply cannot afford to have any people out there who are not on board (at least, from a comprehensive perspective). Whether or not they agree, ideologically or otherwise, with what’s being communicated, is another matter entirely.

When in doubt, I’ve always found it much better to over-communicate than to not communicate enough (or not effectively).

You will be absolutely shocked how many of your “junior” employees (in terms of experience, not age) are not fully competent with what they were thought to them in training.

You roll out a new systems release or introduce an enhancement to your application & you assume that the training bulletin is “sufficient” or that a quick team huddle was “enough” to get the message across.

Don’t assume that any one methodology utilized is enough to effective cover your entire staff.

Oh, and before I go, here’s another leadership philosophy that you’ll find to be invaluable…

“You gotta INSPECT what you EXPECT!”

Check stuff out. Talk with your people, your managers. Walk around (Note: It may no longer be “in vogue”, but I’ll always, always be a disciple of, and an advocate for, MBWA…Management By Walking Around). Be a secret shopper. Read the actual customer surveys themselves (in addition to looking at the #s). Sit down with your Quality Assurance people & get their direct feedback.


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