It is one of the easiest assumptions to make, that the managers in your organisation are excellent communicators. Any business that strives to drive high engagement cannot look beyond the management community as the primary channel and communicators of the message.

The difficulty with the management community is that there are such differentials in the skill sets of managers as communicators. In any organisation managers will possess different strengths; and also differing agendas dependant on overall objectives.

Driving good communications practice in your management community is a business initiative that can be driven from within your internal communications function. There are two very easy methods you can use to bring communications closer to the top of your management agenda.

Introduce a structured team brief

By introducing a structured team brief into your organisation you are ensuring that each team and individual within your business is being cascaded relevant information face2face. This gives employees the opportunity to discuss and engage with what is happening, and provides an opportunity to feedback.

The easiest methodology to use when introducing a structured team brief is to build it within your performance management framework for line managers. By dictating that managers hold a monthly team brief you are providing a structure and framework for managers and employees to put communications as an important part of the team dynamic.

To ensure consistency in the message you can provide a centralised agenda where you highlight the key business messages and performance indicators. By using this cascade method you are driving your message through multiple channels; and the line management relationship is possibly one of the most credible when pursuing trust and buy in from employees: both essential to high engagement.

It is important that you use your performance management framework if you want a structured team brief process to be a success. Most managers will try and follow a directive from the CEO; but to build good line manager communications into your culture it is essential that the management community buy into good communications = good performance.

Auditing the success of team briefs can be achieved through unannounced visits by your CEO or HR Director, through your employee engagement survey, and by using a template for managers to complete after each brief to complete the two way communications process.

These forms can then be collated into a monthly report for you CEO and Leadership team as an additional tool to understand and manage issues within the business.

Line manager workshops

A really useful tool to use within your management community is annual workshops where you focus on communications. It is essentially a training day where you can bring in a facilitator to help managers understand how to become better communicators. It is essential that managers understand the role they play in the relationship employees have with an organisation. Some employees will make a broader judgement on ‘leadership’ within a business based on the relationship they have with a line manager.

By empowering your managers to become better communicators you are building that foundation to turning your business narrative into a two way conversation. It really is the key ingredient to high engagement, and managers have a critical role to play as a primary communications channel.

The best channel strategies are those that fuse innovation in electronic channels such as Intranet’s and social media with face2face. We do live in a digital age but line manager communications are still an essential part of a strategy to drive high employee engagement.

This will be my last blog before Christmas so Festive Greetings and have a great New Year! Thanks for taking the time to read.

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6 thoughts on “Do we assume line managers are good communicators?

  1. Hi Simon I found your piece on line managers and good communication really interesting and thought I would share our similar experiences with you. In September 2010 I launched a new internal communications programme at Torbay Council – which went onto win a CIPR award earlier this year. Part of the programme involves compulsory, monthly Team Talks. These are fully supported by our Chief Exec and HR team and has become part of our managers performance process. I provide a monthly briefing pack to all managers detailing important corporate updates and tis ensures a consistent message is going out to all staff. We also encourage feedback from each meeting including team successes, questions or comments.

    This has worked really well and the results speak for themselves – in Sep 2009 only 37% of staff said they knew what was going on within the council in Feb 2010 just six months after the new programme was introduced this increased to 78%.

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    1. Hi Nicoa, thanks for the response. That is a great example of what I was suggesting as a best practice model. It really does work well, thanks for sharing your similar experience; that is a real example of empowering line managers to be better communicators.

      Like

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