“Is the amount of communication you receive about important information in the organization appropriate?”
That was a question a recent survey asked employees. The results they received aren’t necessarily bad, but interesting because it details one of the common challenges communicators have.
What researchers discovered is that…

  • More than 90 percent of executives and senior managers indicate the level of communication they receive about important information in the organization is appropriate.
  • 78% of mid-level managers responded favorably
  • 68% of line-level employees responded favorably

They call this the “irrigation effect.” As employees get further away from the source, the supply gets weaker. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for communicators. Following along with this irrigation approach, there are three main barriers to properly “irrigating” your communication:

  1. Technological barriers
    Technology is powerful in facilitating the flow of information. However, we cannot presuppose that “if we build it, they will come.” Don’t assume that because the information exists in bits and bytes (email, social media, company intranets, policy manuals, etc.), that employees will rush to access it.
  2. Structural barriers
    The further employees are from the source, the less likely they are to receive the information. Structural barriers include such factors as complicated organizational structures and levels, geographical locations and cultures, varying job types and differing work schedules (think day shift vs night shift).
  3. Human barriers
    Many leaders are surprised to learn that they are the barriers. This is not a surprise for communicators. We assume that we’ve communicated effectively when, in reality, the information we share is sparse, insufficient, infrequent, or simply inaccurate. If managers don’t make a conscious effort to facilitate the flow of information, rather than obstruct it, vital communication is likely to dissipate before reaching those parts of the field where it is needed most.

Attend my luncheon to hear about the relationship between the irrigation effect and new technology with internal communications. We’ll also talk about specific technology that internal communicators can jump on to get ahead of the curve.
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Chuck Gose

Chuck Gose, Vice President & SME – Corporate Communications
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Chuck Gose is a self-proclaimed Skyline Chili connoisseur and Duran Duran fan who has 15 years’ experience in marketing, corporate communication, employee communication and sales. He’s passionate about helping companies improve their tactics and strategies to make the digital workplace all it can be. At STRATACACHE, he is the company’s subject matter expert in corporate communication, using his experience to help the company and their customers be better communicators. He’s previously held internal communication roles at both General Motors and Rolls-Royce and is currently the host of ICology, an internal communications podcast.
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