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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Internal Communication: More Story Means Less Data Required

When you provide information to your staff, do they know what to do with it?

If the data has no story attached - probably not.

You can give them a gigabyte of words and numbers and photos in an email. Who cares?

If they don't know why it matters then it's easy to hit "delete."

My experience has been that people expect very little from corporate communication. They know it is sensitive. A little hint goes a long way.

But covering the lack with oceans of no-context "information" doesn't cover it either. In fact it can make things worse - just like drinking salty ocean water when you're stranded in a boat.

Most of the time those stories are out there. Not on big broadcast emails. But in small informal gatherings where they must be shared. To make the speaker seem human, the organization real. To break the ice.

There are differences between audiences at work when it comes to communication preferences. There are those who already know the stories because they live them firsthand. For them the more raw the data the better.

Others are very far from the core. They don't know what's "really going on" and they need to in order to feel engaged.

The more shared story exists between organization and worker, the less explanation is required in any single instance. And then the data can speak for you.

It's about turning your heterogeneous dispersed workforce population into a nimble cohesive group that feels like a SWAT team.

To get real stories out takes a lot if courage at first. It means being real. The task is to share the conflict and the drama, the real challenges and how they are or are not resolved.

Communicating this way requires what Rabbi Nachman of Breslov called a "broken" heart. Not a depressed or pessimistic view. But rather the kind of openness that comes from realizing how fractured and uncontrollable any circumstance can be.

The stance of "broken" is not at all weak - not by a long shot. It is strength in humility and honesty before G-d (the Divine, the Universe) that witnesses and gives life to all things.

Broken communication is telling the story as a kind of living testimony. Neither good nor bad, right nor wrong, but always a struggle to achieve the mission.

Stories. Brokenness. Conflict. Drama.
A good laugh.

These are the things that people want to read. And once they get it, a little information goes a long way.