Last week, we discussed how HR can get a seat at the table. HR leaders are uniquely situated to help make informed business decisions due to their expertise in talent management. They can look at business challenges from a people perspective, and provide unique insights that may not have otherwise been considered.
However, HR teams often struggle to kick-off strategic initiatives due to lack of executive and cross-departmental buy-in. And without organizational support, these initiatives are likely to fail.
These tips will help you improve HR communication and get the buy-in you need to get your initiatives off the ground in 2020.
1. Be open and transparent
The most important step toward building collaboration is to facilitate open dialogue between all parties. Employees appreciate transparency, and want to know what decisions are being made by company leadership, and why. Give them some insights around how specific decisions are made so you can get their buy-in and boost employee engagement.
2. Turn HR detractors into HR champions
If you know who your HR detractors are, take the opportunity to sit down with them and learn about their reservations. You may find that they have valid concerns with your initiatives, which are likely shared by others. Work toward a better solution together so their reservations are addressed.
You may also find that the issue was with HR communication around the initiative. Find out where your message missed the mark so you can course correct. Working with your biggest critics can help you make necessary improvements that turn your HR detractors into your HR champions.
3. Learn what challenges team members are facing
Learn team members’ pain points, develop initiatives that directly address them, and communicate how your initiatives meet their needs. Employee surveys are a great way to get started. An annual or biannual employee engagement survey can help you identify people issues that exist across the organization. Then dig in more with stay interviews, exit interviews, and one-on-one meetings with managers.
Learn exactly which people issues plague the company so you can better address them. This helps you develop empathy with your team members so you can develop stronger people initiatives, and better communicate how those initiatives meet their needs.
4. Adapt your communication style
In order to get cross-departmental buy-in for an HR initiative or idea, it’s not only the idea that matters but how you express that idea. With that in mind, Saylor Academy has identified four communication styles:
- Expresser: People using this style of communication tend to get excited, rely on hunches and feelings, and don’t like to use hard data.
- Driver: People with a driver style are direct, decisive, and like to have their own way.
- Relater: People with a relater style of communication value relationships, and want to be regarded warmly and treated well.
- Analytical: People using an analytical style of communication ask a lot of questions and behave methodically.
Once you know how other teammates prefer to communicate, you can use this to your advantage. HR leaders can change their communication style depending on the situation, and the communication style of the person with whom they’re speaking. For instance, if you want to get through to an analytical communicator, fortify your thoughts and ideas with data to increase your chances of getting buy-in.
5. Communicate with managers before making big announcements
If you decide to make a big change, communicate it with your managers first. They can help you anticipate questions their team may ask, and will be instrumental in ensuring smooth execution for your initiatives. They may also field questions from their teams directly, and need to be prepared to answer them.
6. Find the right communication channels for the message
Modern communication channels— like email, employee mobile apps, and intranet—can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you can reach people in their preferred mediums. On the other hand, you have more communication channels to manage and employees may not know which channel will contain the information they need to know.
Consider making one channel your single source of truth. This should be the channel that your employees are most likely to use, and will vary from company to company. Then share variations of your message across other channels to reach a wider audience.
7. Pool resources across departments
HR communication doesn’t need to be siloed in the HR department. Tap department leaders to help you roll out communications within their departments. They may have a communication style or a collaboration tool that they know to be effective for their team members.
Test initiatives on willing departments before rolling them out to the entire company. For instance, test how your work from home policy on your finance team to see if it affects performance and productivity, or if there are any kinks to iron out. Roll out a feedback and performance tool to your sales team first, so you have best practices to share with other departments later.
8. Implement the right tools to aid collaboration
Technology is a great way to improve HR communication and enable better collaboration. For instance, a great People Operations Platform will have an employee onboarding workflow that simplifies the onboarding process for all stakeholders and automates many tasks. This can make it much easier to get buy-in for that sort of strategic initiative.
Tools like Slack can make it easy to communicate, and aid collaboration between departments. For example, an HR-AMA Slack channel can allow employees to ask questions about new initiatives, benefits, or anything else they’re curious about. This can help build trust with the HR team
Final thoughts on HR Communication
Strong HR communication is crucial for executive and cross-departmental buy-in of your strategic initiatives. You may understand how your initiatives help team members and the company, but the rest of the team may not look at problems and potential solutions the same way you do. Take the time to properly communicate your vision, and you should see more of your initiatives taking off in 2020.