Internal Communicationsby Val Lawson
The manager’s role in communications
As a manager, it is your responsibility
- To ensure that your team is made aware of any relevant information
- To challenge or counter any misinformation, rumours or myths
- To be the channel for upward communication, encouraging people to ask questions and take an interest
- To obtain answers to any questions raised by members of the team and check understanding.
What should I be doing on a day-to-day basis?
- Listen to what people in your team are saying. Find out if there are any concerns or misunderstandings that are distracting attention from ‘doing the job’.
- Keep yourself informed about what’s happening in the company – at all levels and locations.
- When you meet with your team as a group, use that meeting as an opportunity to share information and to encourage questions.
- Rather than leaving it to the office grapevine to provide answers, keep an open door as much as possible so people feel able to come to you if they have any concerns.
What information should I be passing on to my people?
As a line manager, you will need to ensure your team is aware of any important information about the company that may affect their jobs or the way they are expected to work. This includes changes in structure, news about products or services, and changes to working practices.
When new people join your team, ensure they have received and understand any company manuals, the employee handbook, and details of processes and procedures. Explain how internal communications works in your organisation.
Handling confidential information, especially in cases where you think your team should know about it, is an ethical dilemma faced by many managers. If this situation comes up, the best solution is to escalate your concerns to your immediate line manager or possibly to the HR Manager.
How should I communicate a change programme?
As a manager, your role is to
- Ensure that you understand any messages in the agreed communications
- Pass these messages on to any staff you are responsible for
- Encourage and respond to questions
- Listen to comments
- Escalate any concerns so these can be addressed.
During a change programme, your role will be to collect questions and escalate these so that an answer can be provided. Any briefings about the changes (or other critical issues) may come with a set of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. At such times, your role will be as a channel for communication; you may not know the answers or agree with what’s happening, but you are there to share information, not to generate unrest.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, take responsibility for getting an answer.
Don’t endorse negative comments or concerns
Even if you agree with comments or concerns, just offer to pass these up the line or, if there is a process for staff to feedback, explain what it is and how to use it.
Stick with the script. Someone at a very senior level will have spent a lot of time crafting the messages you are cascading; this is not a good time to ad-lib or add any extra words.
See also the topic on Communicating Change.