Photo: Omar Flores
We’re all suffering from both information overload and information under-load right now. As companies struggle to communicate with their employees and navigate a global health crisis, one thing is crystal clear: communication is rarely as clear and effective as we’d like it to be. In today’s workplace, it’s a challenge we need to overcome yesterday — even in the best of circumstances. But given what’s unfolding, it’s more critical than ever – and could even mean the difference between putting employees at-risk and keeping them safe.
Meghan M. Biro brought internal communications expert Shel Holtz to #WorkTrends to talk about how to do it better. Shel has been involved in internal communications for decades — and recalled how he’d thought he’d invented the intranet for a moment back in the 90s. But fact is, he’s a pioneer who helps many organizations understand that communication is a whole new ball game now (one that’s not canceled). While countless organizations threw everything into their intranet, that was then. We don’t process or seek information the way we used to — and companies should take a lesson from media outlets.
As Shel said, “The intranet emerged during a day when people were surfing the web and it was new and interesting and fun. But these days people tend to be very task-oriented sitting down at a web page. Otherwise, they’re reading and engaging on their phones. You have to meet people where they are. If you think about the major media outlets… they have their website, but also the app, and a podcast, and they’re tweeting and letting people on Facebook know about the articles they’ve read. We have to adopt this kind of consumer-grade mentality around getting content out to people.”
That also means using technology to better communicate — AI helps drive talk-to-text and transcription apps, powers chatbots, and more. But it can also reveal trends and issues we may miss. Shel recalled a company diversity initiative involving internal referrals that wasn’t getting any traction among employees whatsoever. No one could figure out why. An AI tool was able to find the reason by sifting through all the discussions and emails — and the organization was able to course-correct, clarify, and make the program successful.
Meghan pointed out that the key to assuring that AI doesn’t cause unease among employees is being upfront about it all. “If we’re being truthful, and transparent with our employees, they are going to appreciate this, and be more likely to adopt and adjust.” We all want a way to do our work better — and that includes how we communicate. But in the end, we can’t be operating behind a curtain, no matter what tools we use. It’s not just how we say it – or being “tool-centric,” as Shel added. It’s about what we say.
Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode.
Twitter Chat Questions
Q1: Why do many brands struggle with internal communications? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can improve our strategic communication? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help organizations improve internal communication? #WorkTrends