Information Overload Internal Communication Internal communication research

5 Ways to Tackle the Information Overload Challenge

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Wishing my readers a peaceful and prosperous New Year!

As we enter 2018, I am sharing perspectives on a topic that matters to each one of us – information overload. Globally the pace of communication has exploded. Each day we receive hundreds of messages making it tough to sift through and make sense of communication that we receive. According to an estimate, e-mail continues to grow steadily and the world will have 2.9 billion e-mail users by 2019. The number of e-mails each person will receive or send in a day will touch 126 in 2019 from 124 currently! That’s just e-mail. You also have mobile and other forms of communication to consider. In that clutter if you want to gain the attention of your employees through internal communication it is bound to take a lot of effort. Employees today spend a great deal of time managing e-mail, finding internal information and tracking employees for help. A majority of employees (74% according to one study) feel they are missing out on key company news and information. Finally, infective communication is stifling collaboration and productivity at the workplace.

How can internal communicators manage in such a scenario? Here are a few perspectives that can help you as an internal communicator to get ahead of this challenge.

–         Know the state of communication: The first step is to know what’s in the control of the internal communicator. You may not be able to manage every piece of communication that takes place in your organization – and you shouldn’t either! At the business and team levels, every leader and manager is expected to communicate the state of the business and what it means for employees and their roles. You can however influence how those are communicated by working closely with these stakeholders.

–         Focus on clarity of communication: Focus less on the frequency of communication and more on helping employees and managers make sense of what they receive. If a message can be communicated visually it helps immensely. Reduce the amount of ‘scrolling’ employees need to do to get to the messages they need. Understand why and how people communicate – everyone thinks their messages are the most important. Often, we check the box but are unaware of the value it adds.

–         Shift from delivering information to measuring value: Employee communication’s purpose is to motivate employees to take action in support of organizational plans. The gap is that most effort is directed at producing information material and delivering – without measuring the impact of the communication. Gauge the impact of interventions – for example, check the state of newsletters and why they don’t work at times. Is it because the news is outdated? Is it cumbersome to open and read? Is it because employees aren’t involved in developing the content? Consider all that which comes in the way of a great experience.

–         Bring in predictability: Every employee wants to have stability in their work life. By streamlining their work communication flow you will do the individual a huge favor. Categorize the current set of communication. Ask stakeholders what they prefer and when and how. Create an information flow map that all employees have visibility to. Define who will communicate, when and how often so that employees can expect the right kind of messages.

–         Gain commitment to a schedule: Any change is hard for employees especially when they are set to a pattern. Discuss the benefits of rewiring the communication schedule such that it makes their lives simpler and better. Gain commitment from leaders and ‘power users’ of communication on the new approach to communication. Getting employees to a place where they can predict the type of communication on a certain day is ideal.

All this is easier said than done. To begin, test the new approach in a pilot study. Engage employees, seek feedback and tweak the intervention such that the workflow and change is accepted smoothly.

Try and let me know if this works for you.

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