Buck Bond Group
Are you making these 3 mistakes in your employee communications?

Are you making these 3 mistakes in your employee communications?

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The other evening – after darkness had set in ― my husband came home, and I could tell that something was up. “You won’t believe what I just saw up in the sky,” he said, rather animatedly. “It was a long row of lights, moving across the sky,” he continued.

I started laughing. “Why are you laughing?” he demanded to know with a mix of confusion and annoyance, ready to defend his eyesight and sanity. I explained that what he had just seen was Starlink, Elon Musk’s satellite internet constellation. “Oh,” he replied, somewhat deflated.

I was really surprised he didn’t know about Starlink, and it made me consider how this is a perfect example of the mistakes we often make communicating with our employees.

Mistake 1: Assuming everyone knows something

I thought everyone knew about Starlink, but even though my husband watches a lot of news, somehow Starlink had escaped him. How often do we take for granted in our communications that we either don’t need to say something at all or just give it a cursory mention because “everyone knows” about it?

This is the age of information overload: don’t assume that means everyone knows and understands what your message is about. If you’re discussing something that was previously communicated, remind your reader, perhaps even linking to that prior communication. If you’re using industry terms ― even those you think are commonly known ― use a callout box to define them. As we’re fresh off open enrollment season, examples that immediately come to mind are “copay” and “coinsurance.” Yes, these are common terms. But if you’re fortunate enough to be healthy and rarely use your medical benefits, you probably could use a refresher on what they mean.

Mistake 2: Using only one channel to communicate

My husband is a news junkie. He watches several hours of TV news and related programs every evening. But he receives most of his news from just one channel. I prefer to watch some TV news, and read more from various online sources. Yet, I confess that I first learned about the Starlink satellites from NextDoor ― a neighborhood-based social media application.

Are you placing an over reliance on one form of employee communication to the exclusion of all others? Email is quick and convenient, but it can become overwhelming. When interspersed among more urgent, time-sensitive emails, your messages might get lost. The intranet can be a powerful communication tool if your employees regularly visit it. But what if they don’t?

The same can be said for almost any form of communication. When you combine several channels, you can have a truly robust communication plan that is guaranteed to reach more employees than any one of those channels alone.

Mistake 3: Leaving gaps in your communication

Sometimes what we don’t say in a communication is more powerful than what we do say. When we leave something out ― especially if it ignores the proverbial “elephant in the room,” employees will draw their own conclusions ― usually the worst possible ones. Perhaps it won’t be at the same level as an intergalactic invasion, but it still can be distracting.

Often we’re constrained about what we can communicate for legal or other reasons, but communicating as transparently as possible is still the goal. If you don’t have all the information to give right away, tell them when you expect to be able to provide more. Transparency builds trust and helps eliminate the blank spaces that will be surely filled in with assumptions, rumors and misinformation.

I hope you have found these communication tips helpful. And if you would like to see Starlink when it comes to your neighborhood, you can consult this tracker.