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When management communication is just blah, blah, blah

Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger

Management involves getting your message across, what you want doing , how you want it doing and by when, your expectations of employees/team members behaviour and attitude, or in senior management speak the mission,  the values and the targets.

Communication came within my portfolio of responsibilities. The Head of Communications was part of my management team. Communication, like HR is a support service helping managers do what needs to be done. The Communication team supported senior managers in getting their messages across to a range of audiences internal and external.
And they also passed messages from employees to senior managers by organising the biannual employee survey and employee engagement forums. This dual role highlighted two problems,  the first was that senior managers weren’t always clear what the message was,  secondly the senior management team had a tendency to shoot the messenger!
Senior managers often confused the medium with the message. If they wanted to launch the Business Plan or publicise the Annual Report they would say over to you communication team. To which the response would come back do you want to do Road Shows, what do you want us to put on the website, do you want a glossy simplifed version  for the public, what about partner agencies?
Even worse Communication would say something like, “ we wouldn’t start from here”. Meaning what consultation took place in drawing up the Business Plan and does the annual report take account of employee feedback and issues or suggestions that came out of the engagement groups? What are the messages from the plan/ report that that senior managers wanted to tailor to specific employee groups, partner agencies or providers.
All too often senior managers thought their role was to produce the document and have the board endorse it the rest was up to “ communications”. I think this is the equivalent of leaving the management of absenteeism to HR! Communications can advise on the medium, they can help tailor the message to different audiences but they can’t be expected to decide what the message should be.

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