We all know the importance of communication in business. But what if, despite our communication efforts, our staff members don’t retain the important information we need them to know? Things like: What is our company’s vision? What is our company’s mission? What are we focused on improving this year or this quarter? What is our standard elevator pitch that we deliver to prospects or current clients?
When there are important things that our staff members need to know, we have to shift into communication overdrive and overcommunicate so that we can get our messages across to them. By overcommunicating, I mean repeating a point over and over again until the message is heard and understood. And although that may sound negative, overcommunication can have positive outcomes.
For most people to really internalize a message, they need to hear it at least 10 times. A CEO I once worked for used to tell me to go and tell people a message 10 times and if they still didn’t get it, I should tell them 10 more times. If it’s important, communicating a message 100 times isn’t too much. And since some people learn better by reading than hearing, and others by doing rather than reading or hearing, you have to make sure to cover all your bases. Whenever possible, try communicating your important messages by doing, writing and talking at least 10 times in each area.
There are many ways that we can communicate with our staff members. According to the Canadian Corporate Culture study, 51 percent of organizations surveyed employed such methods such as company events, town hall meetings, intranets and informal gatherings to regularly communicate and align their employees to the corporate culture. Other communication methods included hiring/recruiting right (8 percent), bonus plans/reward systems (8 percent), employee surveys (6 percent) and staff training (6 percent). While 99 percent of the executives interviewed believed that culture has an impact on organizational health and financial performance, an incredible 21 percent of respondents said they do nothing at all to align their employees with their designed culture.
Now, I bet you’re thinking, “That’s not me, Brad. I have a meeting to announce the quarterly goals, AND I post the goals on the wall. Sometimes I even follow the meeting up with an email. Got it covered.” Good start, but you need to go much further than that to make sure your employees retain what you say. Here are some ways you can do that.
1. Start company meetings by telling a story describing where you saw one of your company values in action.
2. Incorporate your values and vision into your hiring process. When interviewing job candidates, review your values and vision with them and ask for their feedback.
3. When doing performance reviews, go over your company’s vision and values, and have each person talk about how they see their jobs affecting those values. Do the same with your annual and quarterly goals.
4. Create an award that can be given out when someone is “caught” living out the company’s values.
5. Print your mission on the back of business cards, employee ID badges, newsletter, bulletin boards, etc.
6. One of Anchor Advisors’ clients, Vox, creates a company calendar that includes key birthdays, company deadlines, holidays and other important information in it. The space above each month illustrates a key value. “The calendar helps us reinforce our company values and high performing organizational traits each month,” says Jeannie Walters, president of Vox. “Although each employee hears about these things when they are new, the calendar gives us a reason to discuss each idea in depth throughout the year.”
7. When making a decision, ask outloud, “Does this move us closer to the company mission?” or “How does this impact our goals for this quarter?”
Jim Collins, author of Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, wrote that the single most important quality that identifies an enduring great company is having a well-established mission and values. Something that important is certainly worth saying over and over, don’t you think?
Do you have some creative ways of getting your ideas across? We’d love to hear them! Please use the comment box on the right to send them in.
Photo credit: Julie Edgley