Team briefings and briefing groups

Nothing beats personal, face-to-face communications and most organisations have some form of team briefing system where messages are cascaded down from the top of an organisation.

Depending on the organisation’s complexity there will usually be core messages with business unit/departmental/team messages added, and the opportunity to ask questions.

Research indicates employees like to hear over-arching vision and strategy messages from company leaders, and day-to-day communications from their team leader, backed up by information from written sources, either print or digital.

These briefing groups are indicators of a more open management style designed to engage employees, promote effective communication, motivate people and offset rumour and gossip. It is important to monitor whether briefings are being delivered and to ensure line managers are trained to deliver effective briefings. Any questions that cannot be answered must be fed back up the chain and answers provided. Other forms of personal, talking-and-listening communications include:

roadshows – can be appropriate for ‘big issues’, enabling staff to meet directors or senior managers to hear presentations and ask questions, but can be a huge commitment of time and energy

focus groups/workshops – special group events set up to discuss particular proposals and listen to staff views

town-hall meetings and ‘brown bag lunches’ – less costly, less focused and more informal than a roadshow, can be held in a large meeting room or even a canteen/restaurant.

The optimal forms of communication will usually depend on the size and geographical spread of the company and a combination of tools generally works best. For instance, a management conference can be tweeted and blogged upon as well as videoed and cascaded to all employees through a team briefing, which can also require the team leader to send questions back to the directors.