Internal communication should do only one thing: Engage and call to action (OK, two things)

Did someone ever complain to you that the TV sound was too loud, but you couldn’t hear them over the blaring announcements oozing from the screen?

This routinely happens to me when commercials raid my favourite shows.

But despite the sponsors’ attempts to drag me into the story line, I will do one of the following things:

a) Put the sound to mute
b) Get up against the magnetic pull of the couch to peruse pantry items
c) Check my phone messages
d) All of the above

If you’re anything like I am – and if you’re still reading this you are – the generic ad format just doesn’t cater to you and your needs as a consumer.

Watching an ad featuring dehydrated characters jump from excitement is what countless internal communication initiatives put out by companies remind me of – a lot of noise.

Unsurprisingly, they fail to engage employees in a meaningful way.

According to best practice insight and technology company CEB, employee disengagement has doubled in the last two years, and reversing this trend will only get harder if the economy continues at a sluggish pace.

The main reason for this mismanagement is that memos, newsletters, reports and team briefings, do not clearly communicate the company’s vision, according to a report made by HR management consulting firm Aon Hewitt in 2012.

Or, if a company doesn’t know where it’s going – why should employees think it’s going to get there?

When a company doesn’t articulate well its long-term goals, strategy and operating model employees think the management is mainly interested in short-term solutions.

Specifically, they believe managers are driven by cost control and maximizing production – at the expense of investing towards long-term sustainability of operations, and fostering an engaging environment for staff.

This creates anxiety among employees.

And anxiety affects employees’ day-to-day commitment to work.

It comes as no surprise that people are so skeptic about periodic corporate surveys conducted to gain their insight about employee engagement (think internal eye-roll when the survey lands in your inbox).

Surveys are widely seen as “just another flavour of the month” rather than agents of real change within the company, Aon Hewitt’s study findings from 2012 showed.

But there’s also a more constructive spin for you to consider when framing your internal communication projects.

According to Dallas-based marketing communications firm RSW (really smart work), the first step lies in delivering a message that promotes action and leads your team toward a common goal. Don’t just inform by stating the latest news, sharing the newest policies or describing the latest product or service – motivate.

Second, structure the message in clear words so that employees are not second-guessing the company’s mission and vision when they come to work each day.

Third, deliver it an organized way. Many organizations communicate too much and coordinate too little. When companies make announcements about their ambitious, new plans – ear-piercing TV ads come to mind – employees are left to decipher the most important messages. In a nut shell, not all news is created equal.

Finally, it should encourage measurable results.

Don’t let you internal communication initiative fade into the background – turn it into an authentic voice that promotes employee commitment and active involvement.

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