By Christie Rhodes, Head of Corporate Communications
Your internal communications aren’t hitting the target because the bullseye isn’t where you think it is.
Knowing what your employees want to hear should be pretty simple, right? After all, you’re a communications expert and an employee of the same company. How complicated could it be?
Not so fast.
This kind of thinking typifies the “false-consensus effect”: the assumption that those around us share our viewpoints. It’s a common mistake — and can be especially problematic for communicators.
To move past the false-consensus bias, you need to know what your audience cares about and what will resonate with them. It doesn’t matter how well-written your messaging is if it doesn’t speak to your audience’s needs.
This is where the user-experience (UX) mantra, “You are not your user,” can be an instructive guideline for internal communicators struggling to see past their own desk: In other words, you are not the employee with whom you’re trying to communicate. By focusing on the “user” experience — and putting your people at the center of your internal communications strategy — you gain a clearer understanding of what they need to hear.
So how do you know what will truly resonate?
Here are four easy and surprisingly effective tactics we’ve seen work with a variety of clients:
- Actively engage in conversations with people outside your department, or even outside the corporate office altogether. Ask employees to identify their top three challenges and how they would personally address them. This invites engagement and inspires a problem-solving mindset.
- Host skip-level conversations — meetings with a manager’s direct reports without the manager present — using the start/stop/continue framework:
- What should the company — or the employee’s manager — start doing?
- What should the company/manager stop doing?
- What should the company/manager continue doing?
- Provide an updated version of the old-fashioned comment box: a place employees can leave anonymous comments and suggestions.
- Conduct a quick temperature check via Teams or Slack weekly using open-ended questions such as:
- What’s the most important thing you’re working on this week?
- How do our company’s goals align with your work?
- How are you defining success for yourself right now?
Knowing what people want and need — rather than simply assuming — equips leaders with the confidence to communicate effectively.
KWI’s approach to employee engagement and communications strategy is analogous to the foundations of great UX: They’re user-centered and built on insights about the target consumer. The deeper you go, the deeper the connection you’ll be able to forge and, in turn, the greater success your business will experience.
When KWI begins working with a new client, we start by getting to know their teams because we know the most powerful communications not only align with company goals but also include input from across the organization.
How do we get this input? We ask — using focus groups, employee surveys, communications audits and journey mapping. Then we take the information we’ve gathered and help our clients craft an effective communications blueprint with powerful and memorable messaging. These proven, data-driven approaches enable our clients to benefit from a truly employee-focused communications strategy that fosters lasting alignment, trust and connections.
Want to find out more about how to integrate UX thinking into your employee communication strategy? Reach out to our team! We’d love to discuss ways we’ve seen this drive results for others.
Want to continue the conversation with Christie? Connect with her on LinkedIn.