What would it mean to you and your organization if your employees were well informed, clear on strategy and focused on the right things?  I know we can all agree you’d would be unstoppable.  Great communication is key to creating an organization that prides itself on knowledgeable employees, transparent communication and an engaged atmosphere.  A critical element in the flow of communication is the power of CASCADING.
What does CASCADING mean?  In the real estate, we know that the most important principle is “location, location, location.” In managing organizational change and achieving goals, it’s “communication, communication, communication.”  Hands-on leadership and communication is pivotal to our success.  What does that actually look like in action?
When a leader takes on the responsibility of cascading important organizational messages, here are the steps I recommend:
·      Commit to fully understanding the message yourself
o   Ask questions for clarity
o   Request supporting material as needed
·      Create a strategy for communicating with your direct reports
o   Set up a meeting
o   Prepare talking points / key documents to be shared
o   Practice your delivery of the message
o   Communicate to your team
o   Ask for their commitment to communicate to their teams so that you can reach 100% of our employees
·      Follow-up with your team
o   Has everyone communicated?
o   How was message received and relayed?
o   What steps are necessary to keep the message alive?
·      Commit to re-enforcing the message whenever possible through
o   Newsletters
o   Email reminders
o   Briefings
o   FAQs
o   Fact Sheets
o   Intranet
o   Face to Face meetings
o   Consider an “engagement ambassador” who oversees these communication efforts
One of the most common communication opportunities are regular staff meetings.  The key to successful staff meanings is that they are consistent, efficient and effective and team members walk away saying, “That was worth my time!”
Here are my recommendations for staff meetings:
  •  Set the date(s), time(s) and stick with it.  Employees need to know they can count on it.  One per month at a minimum.
  • Set proper expectations for meeting deliverables – don’t surprise anyone.
  • Create a clear and focused agenda and send it out in advance of the meeting.
  • Keep it to a reasonable time frame – 60 minutes – for instance.  Most people complain about business meetings because they are not well organized and run too long.
  • If there are presentations, be sure everyone has handouts.
  • Ask that all pagers, cell phones, etc. are put away and turned off – no exceptions.
  • If there are newcomers to the meeting, be sure they are introduced.
  •  Take minutes – you want to be sure to record who is accountable for what and follow-up, meeting to meeting.  Document all major decisions.
  • Keep the meeting focused and participants on task – work on gaining a reputation for “well run meetings.”
  • Consider creating a specific format that works well for you and your business needs.  For instance:
  • Welcome, Introductions, Summary and Follow-up from Last Meeting (5 minutes
  • Manager News and Updates (10 minutes)
  • Team Member reports (30 minutes total)
    • 2-3 biggest priorities for the month
    • Do you need help or support for those priorities – if so, what?
    • One key accomplishment in the past month
    • Biggest challenge and what you learned or how you overcame it
    • Next steps / Call to Action (15 minutes)

Make 2013 you best year for communication yet!