All too often, the messages employers intend to convey aren’t the ones employees hear. For companies with a warped communications strategy, a panel of experts offered first-hand advice for becoming an “organizational chiropractor” to straighten out misaligned messaging.

“Most people believe what somebody does more than what they say,” Karen Horn, vice president of internal communications at MetLife, told attendees last week at a gathering of the International Association of Business Communicators. “Create a ‘do.’ We spend time on what the key messages are, but not much time on what we are going to do.”

Jeffrey Brooke, director of employee communications for the Government Printing Office, added: “Part of our role is to be an organizational chiropractor:  You have to think about the different systems and what parts reinforce beliefs and which contradict the organizational trust.”

Audience members offered up some communications advice of their own, including:

1. Form employee resource groups where a junior-level employee can have lunch with a senior executive once a month.

2. Outlaw phone usage during meetings; that means no email or texting unless absolutely necessary to ensure employee/executive engagement.

3. Encourage executives to start an internal blog for employees to read. The HR/benefits team should edit it for language.

4. Assign each young new hire a more experienced employee as their mentor/buddy.

5. Conduct an unofficial poll:  Ask 30 people around your office what they think of something and report it back to the executives as a type of “ear-to-the-ground” method.

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