In a world where humans are inundated with messages 24/7 through a myriad of channels from a variety of sources, it’s a challenge to cut through the noise to reach employees with important information that helps them do their jobs better. Yet this is exactly the challenge Experience Management (XM) leaders must overcome if they want to successfully design and deliver great experiences to employees or customers.
In fact, effectively informing employees about XM is so important that Ecosystem Communications is one of our 20 XM skills organizations must master to embed XM as a discipline. When people understand why XM is important, how they play a part in its success, and the value and progress of XM efforts currently underway they are more likely to stay aligned and positively contribute to results. That’s why no XM initiative is complete without a well-designed communications plan. Organizations need to deliver ongoing messages that balance both practical and inspirational elements relevant for each target audience.
So how can XM teams navigate the noise to reach the people who bring experiences to life in their organizations? Here are five tips drawn from across our research that you can put to work to elevate understanding, encourage participation, and celebrate progress:
- Design role-specific messages. Not all employees are the same. Different groups of employees have distinct information needs. Therefore, ensure your communication plan considers how key messages need to be adapted for different audiences from senior executives to operational leaders to people managers to individual contributors. This adaptation should apply not only to the substance of the messages but also with the timing/frequency and delivery channel used to disseminate information across the organization. This includes translating “corporate speak” into clear and relatable terms all employees can understand and reinforcing how XM contributes to their own success at work.
- Communicate with empathy. Not only do employees have distinct information needs, but they will also react differently to what is shared compared to other groups of employees. There are many times where XM-related communications may ask employees to change what they need to do or to think about their work in a different way. Organizations need to anticipate employees’ emotional reactions and convey support across each message. This is even more critical in times of disruption and uncertainty, as in our current environment, so XM leaders should put a premium on designing communications with these four tips in mind: don’t be shy with bad news, choose certainty over uncertainty, share exact next steps, and stay empathetic.
- Use social tools to amplify messages. Effectively deployed employee social networks and similar tools can enhance communications by adding emphasis through executives’ or other key influencers’ personal participation in message threads or by enlisting employees at all levels in sharing updates or elevating topics. The interactivity of social communications has the ability to create “buzz” and tangible energy around a topic in a way that email or other one-way communication channels cannot.
- Capture feedback through a two-way dialogue. While communications plans typically focus on getting employees the information they need on a regular basis, they can also be used to bring information back to the XM teams and others. Employees are a valuable source of insights and ideas for their companies and their co-workers. Reserve some capacity throughout your communication plan for learning from employees and adapting how you frame and deliver your ongoing flow of XM communications. You can also encourage broader dialogue around key XM messages that yield employee ideas on how to improve processes or solve problems identified through customer or employee feedback.
- Share XM success stories. It is well-known that stories have staying power. XM success stories can bring to life what good experiences look like, what it takes to create them, and help employees connect to the XM strategy in very meaningful ways. There are lots of types of XM stories to tell. Three of my favorites are how-to stories (share the employee mindset and actions that resulted in the success), winning team stories (trace tangible wins by connecting the dots across all the teams that contributed), and everyday hero(ine) stories (instead of superhero moments, highlight employees who are demonstrating desired XM behaviors on a consistent basis, day in and day out).
XM efforts can easily falter when they share too little information, provide disjointed, hard-to-understand messages, or leave out compelling content like progress on key initiatives and success stories. That’s why investing in effective communications is critical to propel the success of your XM program.