The way in which you communicate a particular message will depend on a variety of factors, but choosing the best communication tool, style and forum will ensure the message is delivered as effectively as possible.
Some factors to consider when choosing a communication tool:
1. Who is the audience?
If the audience is the whole team or a group of individuals, a group communication method, such as a meeting, may be the most suitable approach. If the audience is just two or three individuals, it may be better to hold one-to-one meetings.
2. Does immediate feedback need to be gathered?
If you need to gather feedback immediately, you should select a tool that facilitates this, for example a team meeting, a one-to-one session, the telephone, a video conference or a presentation.
3. Should there be a written record?
If information that has been communicated verbally needs to be confirmed in writing to retain a written record, for example where the manager and employee have had a meeting about the employee’s performance, it may be appropriate for the manager to write a letter, memo or email following the meeting, or take notes and keep those as a record.
4. Is the information confidential?
If the information is confidential, obviously the communication needs to take place privately, for example by way of a meeting in a private room, or (if a written record is important), in a formal private letter.
5. Is the message urgent?
If the information is of an urgent nature, you should choose a communication tool that will enable the information to reach your team members quickly, for example the telephone or a face-to-face discussion. Emails are not suitable for urgent communications as they may not be immediately read.
6. Does the information need to be communicated to everyone in the same way and/or at the same time?
For some things it’s vital to ensure everyone gets the same message, or to avoid gossip/filtering by ensuring everyone hears it simultaneously.
Some options to consider
Some communication tools are obvious, others less so. Here are some options for you to consider.
1. Face-to-face individual meetings
These are great for confidential information relating only to the individual, or to get individual feedback on a specific issue, and for things where it’s not important for everyone to hear the message in the same way simultaneously. You can also tailor your delivery/content to the individual concerned which can be helpful.
2. Team meetings
These allow you to communicate the same message to groups of people at the same time, which can allow you to control your message more, and deliver it more quickly. It can also enable group discussion.
Emails are very efficient and can be used for very large groups if necessary. Where a written record of what has been communicated is useful, emails can be great, but not so much if feedback/discussion is important, or if it’s urgent.
4. Video conferencing
This can be a great option for talking to people in different locations, enabling discussion and feeling more personal than emails. If your team is based remotely, or getting people in one place is difficult, this might work well.
5. Social media
Social media can be great for informal updates, idea-sharing or feedback-gathering, but you need to ensure that everyone who needs to be involved has access to/uses social media to avoid people being excluded. Anything requiring more formal communication will not be appropriate for social media.
The overall message is that a mixture of different communication methods is likely to be appropriate, but it’s essential to just take the time to consider whether or not you are using the right ones at the right times, and for the right purposes. Do this, and your key messages will be communicated much more effectively.
If you’d like help in choosing the best way in which to communicate with your employees, do get in touch.