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Playbooks

10 Tips to Share Information More Effectively

In this age of hybrid, remote and deskless working, sharing information effectively is key to internal communication and employee engagement. So here are our top 10 tips!

We’ve written before about the risk of communication over-saturation. We now have so many communication methods at our disposal: Slack, Microsoft Teams, emails, SMS, Zoom, meetings, post-it notes… There are almost too many ways to get a message across. 

So how do you break through the noise and give your messaging the impact it needs? 

In this guide we’re going to give you 10 tips on how to share information more effectively.

1. Define your communication “stack”

Something we often do as a technology business is think about our “technology stack”; these are all the different softwares and products we use to build something.One example is a “front end stack” made up of HTML, CSS and Javascript.

When it comes to thinking about sharing information, you can use the same method. For example, splitting communication into online and offline channels:

Ways to communicate online in a company

  • Instant messaging (e.g. Slack) - for quick communication
  • Email - for official notices
  • Company wiki - for shared knowledge
  • Google docs - for information sharing
  • Yammer - for “water cooler” chat

Ways to communicate offline in a company

  • Daily standups
  • Weekly team meetings
  • Monthly all-company meetings
  • Quarterly all hands meetings
  • Annual company retreats

2. Determine transparency

When it comes to sharing information, transparency is incredibly important; it’s one of the foundation stones of employee engagement. In some startups like Buffer, everything from company salaries to equity and even company revenue is shared transparently on a series of dashboards. Whether you’re that transparent, completely private or somewhere in between, it’ll have an effect on how you share information.

At ScreenCloud we like to have a flat hierarchy of communication wherever possible. This means that most of our communication happens in Slack. Messages are categorized in different channels (#HR, for example), and important messagings can be pinned to the top of these channels. These channels can also be made public or private, and individuals can be notified of messages by tagging them. 

3. Information to share vs information to capture

The instant nature tools like Slack, Yammer and Skype invite you to decide what information you want to share and what you need to capture.

Here’s an example: you may Whatsapp your thoughts on a presentation to a colleague on your way to the office. Is this information just to share or information that needs to be captured?

Helping to build a culture and structure for managing knowledge is an important part of sharing information more effectively.

4. New-age methods of sharing information

Depending on the age and experience of your team, some will have been born into an era where information sharing was firmly entrenched in email.

Now it’s much more common to receive a company memo by message. It’s instantaneous, more likely to be seen and gets the information to where it needs to be more quickly. At the same time, that information becomes siloed to just the sender and recipient. It’s not even on “digital company property”.  But what about if that message were an important presentation, or some key figures?

Working out how new methods of information sharing fit with your organization, and your team, is key to deciding what you share and where.

5. Share where employees already are

Which leads us nicely onto thinking about sharing information where your employees already are. One of our customers – 3M – has employees in more than 150 locations. We asked them why they use digital signage to communicate to staff:

“At 3M we have lots of updates happening internally all of the time and it’s very difficult for us to conduct a meeting every time to announce something. We might send an email with information but our scientists already have hundreds of emails in their inbox. Our idea was to find a system where we could publish a message and everyone at the same time would see that message across three office locations.”

Finding gaps where your employees are already and using them to communicate is a great way to share information more holistically.

6. Tell people how to communicate

Everyone knows how to communicate, but not everyone knows how to communicate effectively.

Human Made is a development agency that creates Wordpress websites. In their handbook they have an entire section dedicated to “Communication”.

This covers areas such as:

  • The importance of meeting up in person
  • How much information an employee needs to “keep up with” (clue: only those things important to their specific role)
  • How to share information through a variety of channels like Slack, email and P2 (a micro-blogging system)

This is a great way to set up expectations early and help everyone understand exactly what is expected of them when it comes to communication.

7. Foster two-way dialogue

Most modern companies know that sharing information isn’t solely a company-to-employee interaction. Two-way dialogue and increasing the feedback loop is essential to sharing and understanding information.

Image source

Feedback loops, like the example shown above, foster authentic communication and lead to a positive relationship where everyone feels heard and responded to.

8. Look for blind spots

If you have a hybrid, remote or deskless team, there will be “blind spots” around how and where information is shared. For example, if an employee misses a meeting how will they gain access to what was shared? Or, how will you share important announcements to deskless workers?

Having a process for documenting, recording and sharing missed information and making this accessible to all employees is a good way to circumvent blind spots. For example, each month when we hold our monthly All Hands we record the session and share it via tools like Wistia, Loom or Crowdcast so that employees can catch up. This is especially useful for offices based in different time zones.

9. Give the power to employees

Some employees will thrive on being asked to document their knowledge and company processes. It’s a fact. Bringing in specific “information evangelists” from your company can help keep internal Wikis, documents and user bases up to date without being a huge strain on resources.

Think about reddit: a community where information and ideas are shared in the form of “threads” with millions of new messages arising each day. Most of reddit’s moderation is done by users, or “moderators” as they’re named. This ensures that reddit doesn’t need to employ hundreds of staff members to sift through comments. Instead, they hand over the reins to people who are experts in those subjects, for example having a science graduate to moderate the r/science thread.

Employees are often best placed to moderate and look after the sections of information they know best, so why not let them?

10. Measure success

When it comes to sharing information, it’s a good idea to measure how successful your methods are. This could be running an employee survey to locate information gaps, blocks and bind spots. It could also be finding out where information isn’t being shared and the causes. 

If you use a web-based wiki or knowledge system you could even use analytics to see the most clicked on or searched terms, plus a voting system for employees to feedback how useful they find the information. This is something you’d often employ for a customer information base, so why not use the same for your internal knowledge?

What methods of information sharing do you find most effective? Please send us your thoughts @ScreenCloud - we’d love to hear.

Playbooks

10 Tips to Share Information More Effectively

In this age of hybrid, remote and deskless working, sharing information effectively is key to internal communication and employee engagement. So here are our top 10 tips!

We’ve written before about the risk of communication over-saturation. We now have so many communication methods at our disposal: Slack, Microsoft Teams, emails, SMS, Zoom, meetings, post-it notes… There are almost too many ways to get a message across. 

So how do you break through the noise and give your messaging the impact it needs? 

In this guide we’re going to give you 10 tips on how to share information more effectively.

1. Define your communication “stack”

Something we often do as a technology business is think about our “technology stack”; these are all the different softwares and products we use to build something.One example is a “front end stack” made up of HTML, CSS and Javascript.

When it comes to thinking about sharing information, you can use the same method. For example, splitting communication into online and offline channels:

Ways to communicate online in a company

  • Instant messaging (e.g. Slack) - for quick communication
  • Email - for official notices
  • Company wiki - for shared knowledge
  • Google docs - for information sharing
  • Yammer - for “water cooler” chat

Ways to communicate offline in a company

  • Daily standups
  • Weekly team meetings
  • Monthly all-company meetings
  • Quarterly all hands meetings
  • Annual company retreats

2. Determine transparency

When it comes to sharing information, transparency is incredibly important; it’s one of the foundation stones of employee engagement. In some startups like Buffer, everything from company salaries to equity and even company revenue is shared transparently on a series of dashboards. Whether you’re that transparent, completely private or somewhere in between, it’ll have an effect on how you share information.

At ScreenCloud we like to have a flat hierarchy of communication wherever possible. This means that most of our communication happens in Slack. Messages are categorized in different channels (#HR, for example), and important messagings can be pinned to the top of these channels. These channels can also be made public or private, and individuals can be notified of messages by tagging them. 

3. Information to share vs information to capture

The instant nature tools like Slack, Yammer and Skype invite you to decide what information you want to share and what you need to capture.

Here’s an example: you may Whatsapp your thoughts on a presentation to a colleague on your way to the office. Is this information just to share or information that needs to be captured?

Helping to build a culture and structure for managing knowledge is an important part of sharing information more effectively.

4. New-age methods of sharing information

Depending on the age and experience of your team, some will have been born into an era where information sharing was firmly entrenched in email.

Now it’s much more common to receive a company memo by message. It’s instantaneous, more likely to be seen and gets the information to where it needs to be more quickly. At the same time, that information becomes siloed to just the sender and recipient. It’s not even on “digital company property”.  But what about if that message were an important presentation, or some key figures?

Working out how new methods of information sharing fit with your organization, and your team, is key to deciding what you share and where.

5. Share where employees already are

Which leads us nicely onto thinking about sharing information where your employees already are. One of our customers – 3M – has employees in more than 150 locations. We asked them why they use digital signage to communicate to staff:

“At 3M we have lots of updates happening internally all of the time and it’s very difficult for us to conduct a meeting every time to announce something. We might send an email with information but our scientists already have hundreds of emails in their inbox. Our idea was to find a system where we could publish a message and everyone at the same time would see that message across three office locations.”

Finding gaps where your employees are already and using them to communicate is a great way to share information more holistically.

6. Tell people how to communicate

Everyone knows how to communicate, but not everyone knows how to communicate effectively.

Human Made is a development agency that creates Wordpress websites. In their handbook they have an entire section dedicated to “Communication”.

This covers areas such as:

  • The importance of meeting up in person
  • How much information an employee needs to “keep up with” (clue: only those things important to their specific role)
  • How to share information through a variety of channels like Slack, email and P2 (a micro-blogging system)

This is a great way to set up expectations early and help everyone understand exactly what is expected of them when it comes to communication.

7. Foster two-way dialogue

Most modern companies know that sharing information isn’t solely a company-to-employee interaction. Two-way dialogue and increasing the feedback loop is essential to sharing and understanding information.

Image source

Feedback loops, like the example shown above, foster authentic communication and lead to a positive relationship where everyone feels heard and responded to.

8. Look for blind spots

If you have a hybrid, remote or deskless team, there will be “blind spots” around how and where information is shared. For example, if an employee misses a meeting how will they gain access to what was shared? Or, how will you share important announcements to deskless workers?

Having a process for documenting, recording and sharing missed information and making this accessible to all employees is a good way to circumvent blind spots. For example, each month when we hold our monthly All Hands we record the session and share it via tools like Wistia, Loom or Crowdcast so that employees can catch up. This is especially useful for offices based in different time zones.

9. Give the power to employees

Some employees will thrive on being asked to document their knowledge and company processes. It’s a fact. Bringing in specific “information evangelists” from your company can help keep internal Wikis, documents and user bases up to date without being a huge strain on resources.

Think about reddit: a community where information and ideas are shared in the form of “threads” with millions of new messages arising each day. Most of reddit’s moderation is done by users, or “moderators” as they’re named. This ensures that reddit doesn’t need to employ hundreds of staff members to sift through comments. Instead, they hand over the reins to people who are experts in those subjects, for example having a science graduate to moderate the r/science thread.

Employees are often best placed to moderate and look after the sections of information they know best, so why not let them?

10. Measure success

When it comes to sharing information, it’s a good idea to measure how successful your methods are. This could be running an employee survey to locate information gaps, blocks and bind spots. It could also be finding out where information isn’t being shared and the causes. 

If you use a web-based wiki or knowledge system you could even use analytics to see the most clicked on or searched terms, plus a voting system for employees to feedback how useful they find the information. This is something you’d often employ for a customer information base, so why not use the same for your internal knowledge?

What methods of information sharing do you find most effective? Please send us your thoughts @ScreenCloud - we’d love to hear.

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