Facilities go through changes all the time and successfully communicating those changes to your internal stakeholders is an important role for every Facility Manager. However, the answer is not always black and white as to the best way to communicate the changes to facilities staff, management, employees and other internal stakeholders.
Here are some quick tips to help you better communicate to your different audiences as changes occur within the facility.
Know your audience. Don’t be afraid to create different messages based on who you are talking to and what they find important. Your ability to communicate “what’s in it for them” will always be appreciated, but your time is limited, and you won’t be able to create specific communications for every individual. You will need to balance the amount of time needed for each message with the importance of creating a special message just for them.
Let’s consider an example about a new cleaning regimen for the refrigerators in the facility. Previously the refrigerators were completely cleaned out the last Friday of every month. Due to an increase in the workforce, and employee complaints, facilities will be increasing refrigerator cleanouts to every other week. The service will be outsourced to a third-party janitorial company providing the company a discount based on the number of times the refrigerator is cleaned annually as well as other evening janitorial services.
Here is how you can group the different messages:
- Senior Leadership: While they will want to know about the new schedule, they will be more interested in learning about the new third-party janitorial company, knowing their security clearances and any changes in cost that may affect the budget.
- Facility Staff: Your staff will need to be well-educated with all the information. They will need to know about the new third-party janitorial company, their duties and complete schedule. Your staff is an extension of your knowledge, so internal stakeholders will go to them with questions that they should to be prepared to answer. You are also only one person, so you will most likely need to delegate tasks to your staff to review the new janitorial staff’s duties, enter data or review reports.
- Company Employees: Hourly and salary onsite employees care about smelly fridges, not having their items thrown away and the new schedule, so that will be the most important message for them. However, they may also be concerned to see strangers on the floor from the new third-party janitorial company, so providing information about the new vendor and providing a picture of their staff uniform will be helpful.
Keep it concise yet entertaining. Content is important, and words are great. This is coming from a writer; you won’t get higher praise from anyone else. But if you can add some humor, a good story, some graphics, animation or a video, it will help grab and keep your audience’s attention much longer.
Let’s continue to the refrigerator example. For employees, try using a cartoon of a stinky fridge or something lighthearted with the announcement. It will help ease the fear of change and catch their attention. Remember to also include at least one benefit for your audience.
“You told us:
‘Monthly fridge cleanings aren’t enough!’
So, we’ll now be cleaning the refrigerators every other Friday.
Starting August 2, we will start the new schedule.
Check the company intranet for the cleaning calendar.”
Use multiple touch points. In a corporate environment, it is quite common to only use email for announcements. It is usually highly effective and easy to produce. However, since it is so popular, it is very easy for employees to become overwhelmed with too many emails and in turn, miss your important message. Therefore, you should consider delivering your message in a few different ways to produce optimal coverage.
- Post in high traffic areas – Place posters, signs, or visual displays in high traffic areas like entries, break rooms, common areas, elevators, the cafeteria, or other areas where employees gather, and signage is allowed. If your company uses video screens to share messages, create a slide that can be used on them.
- Use the company intranet – Your company intranet is also a great place to place your message and the new calendar so current and new employees will have access to it. It will also allow you a platform to make updates, if needed.
- Internal communications – If your company has an internal newsletter or a way to communicate with all employees, reach out to the owners of that communication to have your message displayed there.
- Communicate at the source – When possible, place communication near or at the source of the change. For the refrigerator example, put a sign on the refrigerator about the new schedule or display the new cleaning calendar.
Ask for help from your creative, marketing or human resources teams. You already handle so much, asking for help from experts that handle communications to employees and create creative materials will only help you communicate better with internal stakeholders and create better relations between departments.
These internal departments should have access to software and connections that can make creating collateral much easier and less expensive. Beyond that, they are skilled in these areas already and could possibly create something in a fraction of the time it may take you. Just make sure you provide internal teams as much lead time as possible, let them help you make your communication great, give them as much information as you can and allow them to be creative.
Your ability to manage and deliver successful communications to your internal stakeholders is not only one of IFMA’s 11 Core Competencies but will also make your job much easier as you roll out changes across your organization.