With internal communicators struggling today to reduce information overload and help employees ‘get what they need’ there is a contrarian view at play! That of making information ‘self discovery’ a joy for your staff.
This thought was further cemented when I read an argument by a leading educationist fighting against the spread of ‘coaching institutes’ in India that make Indian students ‘brain dead’ (November 9, 2009 – Business World). Professor Yash Pal is of the opinion that we make the learning process simple enough for students to ‘meander’ through the syllabus rather than learn by rote.
In India, professional course admissions (medicine, business management and engineering) are sought after by students resulting in mushrooming ‘coaching’ institutes that promise to ‘get you in’. I find the same mind-set when I teach MBA and media students. Even if I provide themes or ‘keywords’ hoping that students will explore further either by reading more or ‘Googling’, most often they are keen to focus on the ‘content’ taught in class so as to score higher marks in their examinations! Instead, I always believe that what you ‘learn by exploring’ is what takes you further in life – over and above your grades.
Applying that thought to internal communications I truly believe we can avoid ‘tunnel visioning’ our employees by enabling them to make suitable decisions based on ‘discovered’ information. Rather than force feed what they need to read and see.
In our quest to provide suitably crafted messages that resonate with what we expect of our employees and to get them ‘up to speed’ on what the organization stands for, we are probably obstructing our employees from growing as individuals. As internal communicators I see an opportunity to allow more interaction (face-to-face meetings considered by research to be by far the most effective form), connecting leaders with people, sharing ‘real-life’ examples of those who live the core values and allowing employees to truly discover how the company operates by experiencing it.
From induction programs to alumni forums we may often be placing information in front of employees although it might be ‘intrusive’ and ‘in their way’. Rather employees expect to be treated like adults who prefer to ‘find out’ for themselves and thereby trust what they get.
Here are some ideas I had which will help your employees get better at discovering your organization.
a) In a large multi-national banking product company where I worked previously, we ran an ‘online treasure hunt’ and clubbed it with an ‘offline’ one as well to launch the intranet and also get employees to ‘know their organization’ better. The response was overwhelming.
b) Leverage blogs and other social media tools to help make information accessible and less ‘intrusive’. Tag clouds and ‘hot topics’ can give employees an idea on what is getting discussed widely and therefore pay closer attention.
c) Plan offline ‘socials’ that help employees figure out information from key stakeholders.
d) Recognize employees who mine and share information – they form the backbone of any ‘discovery’ process in the organization.
e) Remember to update information across the spectrum (induction to alumni) so that your employees are getting consistent chunks to bite off
f) At a global interactive and consulting firm new joiners are allowed open access to the organization’s workspace and employees to ask questions about the values, culture, environment and functioning
Have other suggestions? Share them now.