Sharing future vision can be a tricky business, especially if the course you’re suggesting lies somewhat off the beaten track. But, much like Doc Brown proved with his souped-up DeLorean in Back to The Future, you are far more likely to rally those apprehensive Marty McFlys to your cause if you have the right vehicle for your message. In fact, there’s a whole science behind it.
By now, we all know that the key to successful internal management is a simple three-part process. Communicate. Communicate. And then communicate some more. The important thing to remember while you’re in the midst of all this communicating is that how you say something is often as important, if not more, than what you’re saying.
Top-management leaders have to set the tone for internal communication and are responsible for the shape and character of the entire organisation. Quite the tall order, but fully manageble if you are motivated to gather the troops and boldly go where none (or very few) have gone before.
Sometimes You Have to Go Back to Look to the Future
You need to pave the way for open lines of communication from the word go. From the moment a new employee steps foot inside your door, they need to feel like part of a trailblazing team on a mission. Often, this requires taking a step back from the here and now to show them the bigger picture.
Organisational success is based on a strong shared sense of purpose. Employees need to know a) what you stand for and b) what you are aiming for. This is why a company vision is more than just something you pin on the office vision board or use for canteen wall art. To communicate this vision, you’ll need:
- Well-articulated mental imagery backed by frequent communication.
- A process model that shows how employees can help to achieve this vision.
Ideally it should be to-the-point and inspiring with a clear call to action and a firm focus on the desired future outcome. When done correctly, this type of communication has the potential to improve the work environment and motivate employees in line with both internal and external stakeholder expectations.
Unpacking the Internal Communication Formula
Fortunately for today’s CEOs, we’re not exactly reinventing the wheel here. When it comes to effective internal communication we’re standing on the shoulders of giants, and we should use this to our benefit by taking a leaf out of the playbooks of those greats that went before. By doing so, you’ll quickly notice a pattern in the channels of internal communication that have proven most effective in prosperous organisations over the years.
Here’s the basic formula:
- Express shared organisational values
- Define cultural norms and mental models
- Provide vision for positive change
- Dispel ambiguity
- Unpack organisational goals
- Manifest sensitivity towards both internal & external audiences
Using this formula effectively will require the buy-in of senior leaders and internal communication professionals. The message has to be publicised, interpreted and discussed repeatedly in a consistent way. Employees who take it to heart and practice these principles in their day-to- day interactions should be rewarded.
TOP TIP: Creating internal legends, establishing anecdotes and using inspiring stories to underpin the mission, culture and values of a business is a vital component of this process.
How to Tell the Story: Choosing Your DeLorean
Once you have your story all straightened out, the next step is choosing your vehicle of communication. This includes:
Engaging with your employees on a personal level is always first prize. Management-by- walking- around is effective for a reason. Man is a language-using animal and we are wired to thrive in environments where we interact effectively with our contemporaries and superiors. This channel includes one-on-one meetings, internal publications, group meetings, speeches, memos, and phone calls.
Video & Distance Communication
Videos are game changers in internal communication. Senior leaders can use video technologies to deliver a speech or discuss the company’s vision, mission, values, and strategies via corporate TV or on-demand videos. Similarly, video conferences can be hosted with remote workers, and announcements be made via streaming video.
Social Media & Digital
A growing number of CEOs embrace and incorporate platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube into their communication efforts to engage stakeholders. Forwarding-thinking CEOs are now also leveraging off their social capital as leaders in particular industries by influencing opinions, attitudes and actions as executive bloggers.
The most effective channel for any given internal message depends as much on the content of the communication as on the managing style of the communicator and the nature of their audience. In short – follow the formula but choose the DeLorean that works best for your particular communication journey.
Not quite sure how to wire your DeLorean? HolyCow has the souping-up of communication vehicles down to a science. Check back soon to learn more about our formula for sharing future vision.