At each major or significant organisational stage or proposal, assess whether you need to communicate information to groups of staff or individuals (or a wider audience). Both can be critical in making sure that you have communicated effectively.
When planning communication, remember to:
- build in opportunities for employees and volunteers to feed in their views
- ensure that all employees and volunteers can access information: if your only communication method is by email, check whether everyone has regular access to a computer or a personal email account
- deliver information via a variety of methods but consistently, so that people know what to expect and where to obtain or access information
- maintain communication by regular and timely flows of information: try to avoid the last minute ‘news scoop’
- review your communication methods regularly and assess their effectiveness to ensure that your messages are getting through.
When your message is really important, deliver it using more than one method. For example, you could follow up a general staff meeting with an email, then confirm the information in a personalised letter to ensure that it has been received and understood. Possible communication methods include:
- newsletters/in-house magazines/e-magazines
- letters to staff/volunteers
- press releases
- annual reports
- emails and intranets
- phone conversations
- team briefings/group meetings
- focus groups
- face-to-face formal or informal meetings between managers and employees
- consultation groups or staff forums.
Communicating through staff meetings
If you decide to hold a meeting (individual or collective), be clear about what you want to achieve from each agenda item. The goal could be to:
- exchange information (report, update, inform or find out)
- solve a problem or find a solution
- make a decision
- review performance.
Challenge yourself when planning a meeting to check which is the best way to achieve your overall purpose. Could another method be more effective? There are a wide range of potential communications:
Reviewing the meeting process
At the end of a meeting, it is useful to have a ten-minute ‘process review’ either as a self review or with the group. If you undertake a self review, questions you might ask yourself could include:
- Did I get my message across effectively?
- How well did I listen to what was being said?
- What did I learn that I didn’t know before?
- How could the meeting have gone better?
- What do I need to do now?
- What will I do next time?
One of the building blocks of communication and consultation with staff is the annual or biannual employee appraisal or development review – providing it is set in the context of regular supervision meetings.
Information and consultation of employees regulations
The Information & Consultation of Employees (ICE) Act 2004 applies to organisations with 50 or more staff. It requires employers to inform and consult employees in certain circumstances. The Acas website has further information about the ICE regulations.
Source: Published with permission from Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness. This material is taken from "Tools for Success: doing the right things and doing them right", published in October 2008. Download or buy your copy from Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness.