Monday, August 5, 2013

How to Deliver Corporate Information to Employees

Every so often, employees need to be updated about policy and procedures changes. These are often done through formal information sessions when staff meet and are addressed by someone familiar with the new topics.

Unfortunately, these are often a waste of time because the minute employees walk out of the room, most of the content is lost. That's the bad news. The good news is you can improve the value of an information session by doing just a few simple things.

If you are telling someone about new, revised procedures, focus on the changes that have occurred between the old procedures and the new procedures. That way, people can build on their existing knowledge and understand topics by association.

At the end of the session ask questions to clear up doubtful points, then give your audience a written summary of the changes to which they can refer when needed as a memory aid.

Alternatively, if the information session is about something else, consider this; if there are more than about five or seven key points to make, break the session into several sub-sessions and do not handle more than the five to seven points in each. 

Write the key points you intend to make on a Whiteboard or display them on a projector screen in point form. Then address each point concisely and accurately. Explain the how, what, when, where and why of each point. Ask your audience if there are any questions, answer them and tick off each point before moving to the next point.

By not exceeding seven points you reduce the chances of detrimental information overload. The visual cue helps your audience to 'home in' on the topic you are addressing, to recall what has been finished, and know what is to follow. They can then mentally separate content into meaningful and manageable 'chunks'. This results in an information session becoming as near to a training session as possible without crossing the border. People learn and remember.

When you do the next session in a series, have a short revision session. Ask some questions to get people thinking about the topic. For example. "Last session we covered five key points to consider when analysing financial statements ... what was one of them ... [pause] ... John?"

Information certainly ain't instruction, but it can be much more effective with a little planning, structure and effort. At your next information session, give some of these ideas a run.

Robin

PS: When I worked at a correctional centre I was occasionally called on to address new prison officer recruits about the role of my department, Prisoner Education. I gave them a simple overview and a five page handout with a detailed description of the courses we offered, how prisoners got to courses, and a table with attendance and completion statistics. My handouts had a two hole punch at the left margin and I encouraged them to retain the handout for future reference. It seems to have worked because few telephoned me later for information. 

Want one of these? Click on the car ...

1 comment:

  1. The worst information session I ever attended involved death by PowerPoint ... 75 slides all copied from a manual, which meant we couldn't read the detail on the screen.

    Absolutely woeful ... hope you don't do that.

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