Robert Bogue is clear about how much he wants people to be clear. Clear in the way they communicate, that is.
As an 18-year Microsoft veteran, Rob has seen his fair share of technology implementations. He has done more SharePoint implementations than he could count, and through that work, he has seen how deep the communications issues go. In 2018, Rob wrote a SharePoint implementation guide which opened his eyes to see the disparity in communication. It was not that people didn’t know the SharePoint tool well; it was more that they didn’t know how to communicate well.
“Most people believe that when we communicate, we have to do it once,” says Bogue. The premise of being one and done is a fallacy that people live with at work all too often. Think about the one email sent or the one phone call had. Is that likely enough to drive a message home? Probably not.
But further, than that, Rob sees that an individual uses language that will not arouse the call to action desired. He gives a great example regarding open enrollment. Often, the HR practitioner sends out an email to all staff regarding the upcoming need to handle open enrollment. That email is important but the manner with which it’s communicated isn’t enough to rally action right away. Brogue shares that “Instead, maybe title the email ‘3 Things You Have to Do to Keep Health Benefits.” With context like this, the response rate tends to rise in light of the effective communication used.
The balance between bridging strategy and the practical to-do’s is reflected regularly in the life of the HR professional. To attack it head-on, the use of the inverted pyramid method, often found in journalism, may better suit our needs. Put the most important information upfront. Too often, the HR practitioner puts nuanced information in that place (who’s not included in this e-blast, minute details, or unimportant facts) and waste that written real estate.
What I couldn’t get beyond was why an IT professional would care so much about this. Rob has done hours and hours of research and has authored 28 articles and books. He has put the time into this particular discipline of written communication. And, according to Bogue, it’s deeply connected to change management. The manner with which many communicated in written form does not mobilize connection. Recipients don’t see what’s in it for them nor do they have a sense of urgency in responding. By pursuing a more vibrant, clear path of communication the entire organization will be affected. That change needs to be managed well to keep the new commitment to excellence in written communication where it now needs to be.
Be sure to join Robert Bogue for his “10 Tips That Will Get Employees to Read What You Write” at the #SHRM21 Annual Conference and Expo on Friday, September 10 at 7:30 a.m. PT. And for a special treat, Rob has let me know that he’ll be giving 12 tips instead of 10! What a deal!