IABC Chair Adrian Cropley, ABC Discusses Improving Manager Communications

With great humor and enthusiasm, IABC Chair Adrian Cropley, ABC, an Australian native, visited Phoenix on Wednesday as part of a tour of western IABC chapters to discuss improving manager communications. Following a meeting with the IABC Phoenix Board and networking, he spoke for an hour to 35 chapter members and other Valley communications professionals at the Apollo Group.

Below is a list of insights he shared regarding manager-employee communications dynamics, along with some paraphrasing and interpretations.

*Sometimes managers need to see raw research and unfiltered rank-and-file feedback to awaken them from their default communications habits and tendencies.

*Engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave an organization than disengaged.

*Employees are nine times more likely to support change if they hear it from a line manager rather than a company newsletter.

*Effective leadership makes employees change 61 percent of the time compared to 32 percent from infrastructure and seven percent from formal media.

*The soft skills of e-mail etiquette, speaking tone, tact, timing and disseminating priorities should not be overlooked in change management and articulating vision, context and organizational hot-button issues.

*Employees should be allowed to pull the “LHC” (left-hand column”) card on occasion, thus granting them the freedom to speak freely about the state of things without fear of reprisal (i.e. “Here is what is really going on?” “That’s not the way we can operate!” “We can’t do that.”). LHC is the antithesis of employee group head-nodding; it brings voice to the normally muted voice of disagreement, dissatisfaction and frank dialogue.

*The three “Ss” of positive and productive employee engagement are say, stay and strive; these are the desired acts of saying nice things about an organization, stay longer with an employer and strive for excellent results.

*Often times, the managers need to be provided the tools and training from communications staff to truly enhance their communication to employees. They need to understand how their methods are perceived and be held accountable for rectifying poor habits and self-driven concerns (i.e. massive email manifestos on a Friday afternoon, announcing layoffs while sharing their own promotion).

*By taking responsibility, managers can “stay above the line” of the trifecta of good-behavior-impeding vices of making excuses, blame and denial.

*Keep visible, current, relevant scorecards (formal and informal).

*Once manager communications skills are improved, the 4Ms of basic deployment can transpire:

Message / Market /Media / Measure

Toward the end of his presentation, he split the audience into groups of six to select the proper order of employee concerns/priorities in the big organizational scheme, and they are as follows:

  1. 1. What is my job?
  2. 2. How am I doing?
  3. 3. Does anyone care?
  4. 4. How are we doing?
  5. 5. What is our vision, mission and culture?
  6. 6. How can I help?

In closing, Cropley presented IABC Phoenix Chapter President Cory Craft with an authentic Aussie boomerang, which he stated represents an excellent metaphorical prop and practical instrument for communications leaders who give back to their industry as much as they have gained through experience and on-the-job learning.

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