Communication. It’s something we all need more of, but we don’t devote much time to think about it or improve it.
I recently had the opportunity to sit with a group of young partners to find out what they felt they need to grow their practice. During the meeting, standard information about training and support for their marketing and business development efforts came up. However, what was most interesting was the conversation with the key leaders that followed. Everything the young partners were requesting was available to them, but somehow they had missed the messaging.
Unfortunately, the scenario described above happens way too often. We believe that 1 or 2 emails, a memo or posting to the intranet is enough to get your message across. Even when we deliver a message, we fail to reinforce it because we assume if we told them once they should remember it forever.
Here’s the problem with that – most people have an attention span of 8 seconds and we are all human. There is no way we can remember all that we are “told” in e-mails and in meetings forever.
So instead, here are three things you can do to improve your firm’s internal communication:
- Don’t rely only on email– too much information is shared through email. Most of us don’t read effectively enough. We scan and this inevitably leads to missing key messages. When something is really important- it should be communicated in person and then reinforced in multiple ways. For example, a change in process should be discussed and then documented and sent in e-mail and placed on your firm’s intranet or central drive for future reference and knowledge transfer. Video is a great tool that can assist with this. When recorded, it provides consistency and allows for consistent referencing and feedback. It’s also a lot more engaging than a written document.
- Reinforce your message– A communication or a meeting isn’t enough. For a message to resonate, it should be reinforced and offered in a few ways. For example, you can communicate your firm’s strategic vision at an annual firm meeting that discusses these goals, a written document or video and then a series of communications or meetings that help your employees understand their role in achieving that goal.
- Get creative– Do you have something you want your employees to be motivated to do? Get creative with your delivery. Try a personalized invitation, a mailer sent to their home address or something eye catching in the office. Sometimes, the simple act of changing the delivery medium can increase the effectiveness of that communication.
Don’t rely on email. Reinforce your message regularly. And get creative. Three simple ways to ensure that your firm’s key messages and ideas are heard and put into action. Do you have other ideas? Please share them here. We’d love to hear them!
Sarah Johnson is the Chief Growth Strategist with Inovautus Consulting, a firm that works with CPA, law and professional service firms to help them grow more effectively, and author of Practical Ideas for Growth, a blog dedicated to growing professional firms. Her counsel and strategies have helped move firms to the next level in their marketing and talent acquisition efforts. Connect with Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.linkedin.com/in/sjjohnson.