One of the responsibilities that comes with management is communicating with people. From formal presentations to break room banter, there's all sorts of communication happening in your business. Even with oodles of options, leaders rely heavily on email to their teams to inform and inspire.
In messages from the boss, employees want honest and timely news -- and seem to never give up on the utopian dream of CNN-like coverage of business happenings. They want the information direct from the source and as raw and unrefined as possible.
But most communication divisions focus on delivering the exact opposite. Communication directors want polished and consistent. They're notoriously fussy about irrelevant details and more than happy to hold a message back until it meets their standard of perfect. It makes them feel like they're doing their job.
This approach might make sense in theory, but it falls flat time and again. In fact, the more "corporate" messages come across, the less likely employees are to feel like they're getting the whole picture. As a result, employees often feel disappointed and suspicious that they don't have the real scoop.
Why do your employees seem to have the insatiable need for information? They're looking out for number one, of course -- like we all are. In a system where they can't Google what they really want to know about the company's future (and hence, their future) they have no choice but to depend on corporate communications -- and, if that's lacking, by their personal networks of gossip and rumor.
And as managers, why do we hold back this information? One of the big reasons is that writing thoughtful, clear emails takes time, and we're busy doing. The other reason is that sometimes you don't know where to start.
This is when a quick "copy, paste, customize" process is your best friend. The idea is simple: create a repository of messages that inspire you.
Anytime you come across a piece of writing in a business blog, professional newsletter, speech or a quote that resonates with your business, copy and paste it into your collection. No fancy tool or formatting needed. A simple document is good enough for these random snippets. Periodically, you'll come across longer essays or letters that contain points relevant to your business. Grab these too. They're gold.
Then, use each copied blurb, paragraph, or letter as a template or jumping off point for your next communication. Here's an example in letter form from Google's CFO to employees announcing his retirement. The sincerity comes through loud and clear in his story and writing style. Without announcing your retirement (hell, most of us are just getting started) you could take pieces of this as inspiration. You could use material from this piece to talk about work/life balance, for instance. Another example might be this one outlining the details of an acquisition or this one about leading with courage.
In between longer messages, you can stay connected via email by sharing direct quotes. You paste the quote, cite the source, and then add your own thoughts. This can be as simple as adding a note that says something like, "I came across these words that really hit me as relevant to our business right now. Here's why..."
When you start to read content with an eye towards how you can copy it and reuse it for yourself, you suddenly see the immense volume of hard, upfront work that has been done for you.
Now, of course you can't wholly copy word for word. That wouldn't be right or sincere. Instead the idea is to use the thoughts and structure as a starting point from which you can tailor the message to your business.
Don't waste any more time trying to be original by thinking up all of your company messaging on your own. Start copying, pasting, and customizing to get more useful, timely information out to satisfy your employee's need to be in the know.