Employee communication: delivering big news to your team

Written by: Erika Khanna | Illustrated by: Julia Gr
Published on October 29, 2020 | Reading time: 5m

Ensuring clear employee communication is an important part of being a manager. Effective employee communication occurs when it is optimized and understood by your team. Here at Officevibe, we like to use a framework developed in-house to structure important communications between managers and employees.

This framework is divided into 4 parts:

  • Objectives: what does this communication serve?
  • Audience: who are you speaking to?
  • Message: what are you trying to convey?
  • Actions: how will you distribute your communication? 

As you navigate through moments of change, imploring an effective employee communication style will streamline information. We’re here to help you integrate rules of thumb to optimize your communication strategy.

Structure intentional and clear communication

When it comes to integrating effective internal communication for employees, it’s important to narrow down your thinking. Start by pinpointing the main goal of your messaging. This will help to establish a communication strategy. Know that information you share with employees may vary, depending on your objectives. If a corporate strategy has changed, you might want to underline how this will impact your team’s goals.

The aim is to reduce the amount of noise around your messaging. A funny anecdote might resonate in a group chat with your friends, but falls out of context during professional conversations in the workplace. Understanding your employees, and simplifying your messaging increases employee engagement, productivity, and motivation.

Ask yourself these helpful questions when structuring effective internal communication:

  • What is the main objective of my message?
  • What do I want employees to remember and how do I want them to feel?
  • How can I simplify my key points?

For example:

When a new hire is added to your team, being a mindful communicator will instigate a positive employee onboarding experience. It will also encourage existing employees to understand the context of their role. Highlight key elements you’d like your team to understand, as well as how they can learn, and collaborate.

Contextualize employee communication

Senior leaders know that initiating open communication requires strong preparation and a big part of that is understanding how to discuss essential aspects of your messaging. Putting yourself in the shoes of employees sparks empathy and encourages a compassionate communications strategy.

When preparing key messages, be mindful of how your team uses internal communication tools.

A few examples on how you can implement this are:

  • Schedule routine 1-1s that allow an employee to speak candidly
  • Use an anonymous feedback tool where employees can raise questions, concerns and submit suggestions
  • Routinely check in with your team, ask them how they feel and cater your communication accordingly
  • Reassure employees that their feedback is valued

For example:

If a team member resigns or is asked to leave, take a moment to reflect on how this news should be shared. Bear in mind that certain employees may be directly impacted, as well as deadlines, and team contributions.

In this case, an in-person conversation is recommended. Additionally, the greater organization will benefit from learning this news through an internal communication tool like e-mail or Slack. Remember that a clear workplace communication strategy always wins. Be clear about this persons’ contributions, be open to the teams’ questions, and remain professional in your delivery. Ensuring that this news is straightforward and clear will reduce rumours and gossip.

Clarify your message using the 4 W’s + 1 H 

Building clear messaging isn’t easy. It may be that senior leaders are not able to share every detail, so it’s important to know when to get specific and when it’s okay to be vague.

Start with the following communication strategy: implementing the 4Ws and 1H:

  • Who am I communicating with? Be mindful of employees, their communication styles and needs.
  • What is my main message? Be clear and concise about key takeaways.
  • Where should these messages be delivered? Understand that context matters. Use internal communications tools like instant messaging, accordingly.
  • When is the right time to communicate? Learn about pivotal moments within the week that amplify information retention.
  • Why is this message important? Elaborate on the motivation behind the message and why it’s important that your team be made aware.
  • How are you delivering your message? Be kind, empathetic, reasonable and fact-based.

Using this communication style will help to discern where tweaks need to be made, what is most important, and what can wait.

For example:

Taking a moment to absorb the facts when your team is facing times of change will allow you to clarify what you need to express. Understanding how employees absorb information will help structure clear messaging.

Understand who this will impact and how to reach them

Effective communication between managers and employees also relies on mindful timing. This builds employee engagement and a higher response rate. After all, knowing what to say is just as important as how you say it. Use an existing communication channel and collaboration tool. Bolster important messages with visual aids, and if you’re short on time, think about how to underscore a key point.

Consider the following:

  • Make use of internal communication channels and collaboration tools. Discern which will have more impact. (in-person conversations, Slack, email, presentation etc.)?
  • Use language that is straightforward, confident, empathetic and receptive
  • Consider the timing of conflicting meetings, projects, town halls, core hours, etc.
  • When applicable: highlight a well-researched statistic, fact, or statement that will drive your point forward

For example:

When implementing a change in strategy, being clear on the motivation for the change as well as the intended outcome. Let employees know that this new strategy will benefit everyone, give concrete examples as to how. If time allows, visually represent relevant facts and statistics.

Effective communication works when your audience walks away feeling as though they’ve learned something new and helpful. Whether it be about their work, a new project, or general information. Make sure your team feels supported, engaged, productive, and inspired. Officevibe is here to help if communication isn’t exactly your strong suit. Our Effective Communications Toolkit will cover all of your bases.