Sooner or later, every communicator will hear a senior leader bemoan: “Our middle managers are the problem; they’re like permafrost, nothing gets through them. They just block every message we try to send.”
And the answer normally is a tsunami of communications launched in the hope that something, anything, might just break through the indifference of supervisors.
But really, we all know the truth. We get the communication from managers that we deserve. It you treat them as unthinking, animated noticeboards, you have no right to expect anything but an impermeable barrier to the corporate conversation.
Yet, getting the basics right need not be too difficult. Just five simple questions could be the key to defrosting your communications.
1. Do they know it’s their job?
Surprisingly, many managers don’t realize what is expected of them when it comes to communicating. Despite libraries full of books on leadership and billions spent on developing the skills of supervisors, many managers just don’t see what communication has to do with them.
Start by making sure they get the message. Talk to HR about competencies and get your upper bosses to repeat the mantra: “As a leader, my job is to translate this into terms my team understands.”
2. Who’s talking to them?
Do you recognize this scenario? The CEO wants something communicated so he sends a message to managers saying, “We’re posting this announcement on the intranet tomorrow, please talk to staff about it.”
What’s a manager going to do? If you’re lucky, they’ll forward the email to the team without the chilly comment it deserves.
Managers are not unthinking relays. They add value by turning the corporate message into something that is relevant on the front line;...
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