Views: Match words and actions for IC

Reading Time: 3 minutes

VERY simply, constant and consistent communication is the key to maintaining a sense of “belonging” regardless of where one might actually be located, writes Kirk Hazlett.

I vividly recall, as a young public affairs intern who had been given a permanent post in a different state. I was the only person on the army base associated with the headquarters where I had received my training. I was feeling lost and alone…then my telephone rang. The quiet voice on the other end…my internship supervisor…said, “I just wanted to check in with you to see how you were doing.” Deep sigh of relief as I let my feelings pour out! Lesson learned…don’t lose touch with your employees regardless of where they might be. A phone call/zoom chat/email can work wonders.

Continue reading or listen here:

An organization’s culture and values must be embraced and demonstrated by all members of the leadership team, including communication professionals. Those charged with visible representation of the organization must “walk the walk and talk the talk.” Employees at any and all levels can sense when what’s being “said” doesn’t match actions. The end result more often than not is a steadily-increasing departure rate. The communications team must pay attention to what is being said and done at the higher levels and be willing (and brave enough!) to speak up when things “just don’t feel right.” As a young PR professional in a new job with a technology company, I noticed shortly after we went through a combination employee layoff/general manager firing that employees at all three of our geographically separated facilities were confused and concerned. I recommended that our new general manager visit each location personally, meet with the employees, answer questions, and leave them reassured that we were, in fact, back to “business as usual” and their jobs were secure.

Often overlooked and more often misunderstood, effective internal communication can ensure that your entire team, whether on-site or remote, knows what is happening and why at all times. Having “lived” in workplaces where communication was, at best, nonexistent, I can attest to the importance of constant, clear messaging from top to bottom. Employees need and want to know what’s going on, and they want this information on a regular basis…not hit-or-miss. This is where the organization’s communications leader can play an important role…preparing regular updates for the CEO’s approval on a regular basis. And, last but not least, employees should be encouraged to provide feedback, including relevant questions, that receives either a personal or company-wide response depending on the nature of the employee’s query, as soon as possible. Finally, in today’s mega-wired communication universe, “townhall” meetings should be scheduled regularly as well. As a friend once remarked to me every time I said to him “Good to see you”…“It’s good to be seen.”

A public relations professional-turned-public relations professor, Kirk Hazlett, APR, fellow PRSA, is adjunct professor of communication at the University of Tampa (FL). He is a member of the Public Relations Society of America’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards as well as of PRSA’s College of Fellows Communications Committee. In addition, he serves as PRSA Tampa Bay Chapter’s first Ethics Officer. Before moving into academia, Hazlett practiced nonprofit and government public relations and marketing for more than 35 years in the US as well as Asia. During his professional career, he managed communication programs for healthcare and member services organizations as well as for the US Army and US Air Force in Vietnam, the Philippines and the United States. He also provided consulting services for both the Manila and the Singapore Red Cross.