High Stakes

The Secret of Internal Communications Is Just One Thing

palanceOne of my favorite scenes from the movie “City Slickers” is when Curly (Jack Palance) asks Mitch (Billy Crystal) if he knows what the secret of life is. Curly opines that it’s: “One thing. Just one thing.” The hard part, of course, is figuring out what that one thing is.

Although I certainly don’t know what the secret of life is, I believe I’ve discovered the one thing that can make your internal communications shine.

What is it?

It’s startlingly simple.

Arm your managers with the tools and information they need to communicate with their staffs.

That’s it. That’s the one thing.

How do I know?

We conduct internal communications audits for health systems across the country. What we have learned is:

  1. An employee’s manager/supervisor is the most important person in that employee’s work life.
  2. Employees want to hear important news and information straight from their immediate supervisor.

So, if employees already believe their supervisor is a trustworthy spokesperson, why not make sure those spokespeople have access to the messages you are wanting to deliver? Provide supervisors and managers with a weekly one-page communication tool they can use during their huddles and staff meetings. Make it brief, simple and consumable. Supply bullet points with links to more information if they need it.

If it’s a major initiative, put together a full communications toolkit for your managers. But don’t get toolkit-happy. Use them for the big things, or they just become too boy-who-cried-wolf-ish.

So there’s my one thing.

You’re welcome.

Now I can ride off into the sunset.

(By the way, I’d include the movie clip here, but it has a mildly naughty word. If you’re OK with that, go check it out on YouTube. Yes, I know it’s from 1991. It’s still a great movie. Check out baby Jake Gyllenhaal.)


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