This is a test. Can you remember the gist of the last three internal emails that your organization sent? You know, the ones announcing the location for this year’s picnic, that the bathroom on the second floor is out of service, or that there is a leftover veggie tray up for grabs in the kitchen. How about the poster near the elevator, do you remember the last one you saw? If you do, please send us an email to tell us what they were about, and we’ll mail you a gift. Seriously.
Why? Because if you can actually recall the last three emails or hallway poster, you either have exceptional cognitive capabilities or somebody on your communications team is doing something right. Either way, we’d love to learn more.
As for the rest of us, let’s talk about why most internal communication strategies fail.
First, a statistic from the most recent Gallup workplace survey: Only 13 percent of American workers think that leadership communicates effectively. Just 13 percent. That means that most bosses in this country are not sending clear messages to their people.
That might be fine when it comes to the company picnic, but it’s a big problem when employees start missing strategic priorities. And that’s exactly what’s happening (i.e., The same Gallup survey found that just 22 percent of American workers think their leadership has a clear direction for the future).
So what gives? There are the three reasons that most internal communication strategies fail.
You’re boring. You no longer have a captive audience. In a world with endless social media streams and bottomless online content, you’re not just competing with content created inside company walls and the price for employee attention is only going up. Your videos need to be as compelling as the most recent Vice documentary, your podcasts as good as Radiolab, and your email newsletter as addictive as The Skimm.
You’re in saturated channels. The world sends roughly 281 billion emails a day. This averages out to about 121 daily emails for each office worker. Add in the fact that most people spend a big portion of their day in meetings, and it’s understandable why so many emails go ignored. Want proof that it’s time to break outside this saturated channel? Embed a footnote in your next company-wide email offering $5 for anyone who responds saying they read it.
You are not telling a story about the future. This is not about creating characters and plot scenes, it’s deeper than that. Too many leadership teams today have not communicated a clear vision on who the organization is, and what they are there to do. It may sound elementary, but if you don’t anchor your communication strategy on a firm understanding of the journey that you’re on, you won’t get there (and your communications will feel disjointed).
This stuff isn’t easy, but if you can reimagine the way you communicate, you will reimagine the future of your organization. Onward.