One of the most frustrating things for me when I first became managing partner was communicating to a large group, especially within Plante Moran. Not only do you have to be careful what you say (which is a good rule of thumb for whatever title you occupy in a professional setting) but you can’t assume that your message will be interpreted as it was intended. I could speak for five minutes about an important strategic initiative and think, “All right, then, we’re all on the same page,” only to realize later that (a) different people heard different things, and (b) some people hadn’t heard me at all.
I think that was my biggest lesson—that you can’t just say something once and expect that message to resonate. Turns out, people typically need to hear a message at least three times—and often in many different ways—before they really get it. Fortunately, Plante Moran has a great communications team that assists with that. We’ve used e-mail, voicemail, our intranet, video, kinetic typography (interesting and effective phenomenon—check it out if you’re not familiar with it), blogs/message boards, posters in kitchens and break rooms, and other media in addition to both one-on-one and group, in-person communications. The key is to keep the message consistent regardless of the medium.
Has this solved our communication challenges? It’s certainly helped, but nothing is ever 100 percent. One strategy we’ve implemented is to come up with a few key messages at the start of each year and reinforce them throughout the year in different ways. That has seemed to work well for us, but I’m sure there are many other strategies out there that are successful at other organizations.
So how about it? Is communicating effectively a challenge at your organization? What are some of the strategies you use to make sure messages are heard consistently across the organization?