team briefings and briefing groups
Nothing beats face-to-face communication. Most organisations have a form of briefing process whereby core business messages are cascaded down from the top to all employees. Team briefings and the creation of briefing groups provide the opportunity to deliver key business messages and for employees to ask questions about the role they play in business direction.
Research indicates employees like to hear over-arching vision and strategy messages from company leaders, and day-to-day communications from their team leader, backed up by information from written sources, either print or digital.
Briefing groups, at an operation level within an organisation, provide an open management style that is inclusive and collaborative. It is a key motivator that entrusts employees with driving great business results and provides feedback back up the chain to an executive level.
Other forms of personal, talking-and-listening communications include:
- roadshows: can be appropriate for ‘big issues’, enabling staff to meet directors or senior managers to hear presentations and ask questions, but can be a huge commitment of time and energy
- focus groups/workshops: special group events set up to discuss particular proposals and listen to staff views
- town-hall meetings and ‘brown bag lunches': less costly, less focused and more informal than a roadshow, can be held in a large meeting room or even a canteen/restaurant
Finding the optimal form of communication for your business will depend on the size and geographical spread of the company and the tools available within the organisation for communication. In the digital age, communication can be cascaded to all employees through face-to-face briefings via the use of technologies that maximise the opportunity for engagement and inclusion.
The arrival in the workplace of people in their early twenties who have never known a world without the internet and mobile devices – Generation C (for connected) – is already seeing profound changes in the way employee communication is conducted and managed (see chapter 12 on social media).
Used to being continuously connected to large networks, both social and work, Generation C is used to speedy, short bursts of news and greater openness than the previous generations. Traditional top-down direct communication is unpopular with this more collaborative generation, although they still see the value of face-to-face internal communication.
As the first generation of digitally-savvy employees (as well as customers), Generation C’s arrival in the workplace will mean the lines between internal and external communication become even more blurred, and an evolution of existing communication practices is currently taking place.
legal requirements and best practice
The Fair Work Act requires employers to consult with their employees in regards to change.
consultation in practice
Provide information to employees about:
- What is being considered
- The process for consideration
- How a final decision will be made and who will be involved in making the decision.
- Communicating business needs and priorities (use a mixture of team meetings, newsletters, emails or intranet site)
- Seek views and opinions from affected employees, either individually or through their representatives (team or individual meetings, online intranet forum, surveys. Encourage a two-way flow of information
- Review and improve strategies for communication flow of ideas and information.
Review and implementation:
- Consider information and ideas obtained and asses against business requirements
- Record any decisions made and the reasons why
- Communicate decision and reasons why back to employees and representatives
- Implement change
- Invite feedback on the process to improve the next consultation process.
For the full Fair Work guidelines, click here:
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