In a perfect world, the flow of organizational information would be like a man-made channel: straight and linear.
News would be delivered to one audience, then a second, a third and so on. The second audience wouldn’t receive the news until after every member of the first audience. And the third audience would be waiting for the second.
But we don’t live in a perfect world, which means more often than not organizational news has a way of overflowing the banks and racing away in courses it cuts itself.
And there’s the rub. Although organizations generally set a preferred information flow, they also recognize it’s in the best interest of the organization to provide as much information as possible to staff — a critical partner in the organization’s operation — and to do so in a timely manner.
As I suggested in an earlier post, an informed staff is better able to explain decisions, actions and events to acquaintances — business or otherwise — who might raise an issue they’ve heard about through the media or elsewhere. Informed employees are happy employees.
So, how can the organization maintain its preferred information flow and still share news with staff in a way that makes them a proactive addition to the information team?
It starts with a delivery process that is timely, consistent and graduated. As events unfold, those receiving the news should move the information delivery process forward as quickly as possible to those who, first, need to know and, second, those who should know.
It means those with the news electing to deliver information even if they don’t yet have a solution — and admitting they don’t have a solution — instead of working to resolve the problem first.
And it involves a little patience from those “left out of the loop.” Sure, we want to know what’s going on within the organization. But we also have to accept that some stuff just isn’t our business.
And if we happen to hear something we aren’t yet supposed to know? A mentor of mine once suggested the following when determining whether to pass along a tidbit to a colleague: is it your news to tell?
It’s not a perfect answer, but it’s a good start. You can help build that answer by providing your own thoughts. How do you want information shared within the organization? Is the way it’s currently done working? What changes would you make? I’d love to hear your comments.