Timeliness and inconsistency of message are some of the main issues that are cited with communication in an organization. Could effective communication cascading be the answer?

communication cascade

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What is a communication cascade?

This is the approach taken when the head of a company presents significant news to management. This will mean not just presenting the bare facts, but getting them onboard, outlining the benefits, explaining how challenges will be met and asking them to repeat the information to their respective teams.

This is approach works well in most organizations. Team members tend to follow what their direct manager asks of them, and the entire workforce gets to hear news in a consistent way.

However, given the number of people involved and the importance of keeping the details correct, it is an approach that can falter.

Most CEOs cannot connect directly with every single person in the organization. Which is why it’s important to have an information cascade plan. But how do you prevent your communications strategy from turning into a dismal failure?

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Guide

14 steps to great internal communications

Download this handy eBook and discover practical tools and tips to maximize engagement and impact business performance through internal comms.

The best methods of cascading information

Different types of communication require different methods – there are some topics, like office closures, moves, or mergers and acquisitions that will require direct communication from the CEO.

However, day-to-day issues are fine to be handled by managers. Needless to say, no matter how mundane the information, it still needs to be communicated, clearly, correctly and with the right level of impact.

When you’re working directly with your team, open channels of communication are important, but it’s also crucial that the information you received from above is the same information you relay to your people.

So, how do you implement a strategic plan that means all information remains accurate, goes to the right people, is relevant and delivered in the right manner?

In this blog, we’ll discuss the best methods of cascading information through the hierarchy of an organization ensuring your business channels information in the most effective way possible.

How to implement a strategic plan for cascading information

communication cascade

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Good communication begins with a plan, and when it comes to cascading information, there needs to be a focus on a change on objectives, accountabilities and authorities – or more simply, who is saying what, to whom and how.

What is the message?

Some news can be complicated. If it’s regarding change, it may have lots of detail that need to be passed on accurately. If you don’t fully comprehend what you’re being told, ask questions, either to the CEO or with your peers and make sure you’re up to speed before communicating with your teams.

retaining staff
Guide

14 steps to great internal communications

Download this handy eBook and discover practical tools and tips to maximize engagement and impact business performance through internal comms.

How do you keep on message?

Even senior leaders can go off message. When you’re being informed of news and updates from the top, it’s always a good idea to sense check it yourself. Does it outline the change? Does it explain how and why the change will take place? Is it on message and devoid of unnecessary tangents? Make sure the news you’re hearing is prepped for your enquiring audience.

Is everyone accounted for?

Missing a level can cause problems. If a person or a group of people are missed out on the cascade, it causes confusion, trust issues and a loss of impetus. Therefore, it’s critical that everyone on every level is kept informed.

What’s the cascade?

cascading communication

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Of course, one of the main parts of the plan will be the actual cascade itself. Creating the flow of communication is simple enough. But it’s also important that you implement management of the cascade and follow-up. It’s not a good idea to assume everyone will follow the plan. What if a manager doesn’t pass on the message or a section of workers are missed out? It’s important that someone is appointed to see the information pass through the organization without a hitch.

The importance of two-way communication

While we’ve focused on how you communicate, it’s also worth noting the importance of two-way communication when relaying information to your team. People will have questions, raise concerns and want to participate in a conversation about the news – and this should be nurtured as it helps to understand what is being delivered, and also allows you to address any potential issues as a team. Allowing your team to participate in actioning the change allows them to take ownership and makes them feel valued.

retaining staff
Guide

14 steps to great internal communications

Download this handy eBook and discover practical tools and tips to maximize engagement and impact business performance through internal comms.

Be relevant

The information given by senior management to subordinates needs to be relevant to their roles within the business. Make sure that you go through your message before you deliver it to your team. You need to ensure that the information you pass on is appropriate to your audience.

Deliver news professionally

Unfortunately, you may be required to deliver news that you are not completely happy about. An organization can often have to roll out plans that negatively affect staff. In these situations, it is important to deliver the news factually and with confidence. Be aware of your non-verbal cues, and avoid slumping, frowning and eye rolling – your role as team leader means you should appear to be in control at all times, even if you don’t necessarily feel like it. Your position means people have trust and confidence in you so if you’re delivering news that could impinge on staff, you need to be able to provide the necessary support and guidance that they require.

Have a communication channel for peers

cascading communication

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Use your intranet to form a private group, which can provide support and guidance to managers. They can meet online from wherever they are to discuss plans, share ideas and ask questions. If something isn’t clear, having a discussion with a peer regardless of location or time zone is a great way of gaining a better understanding of what is required.

Make sure the right tools are provided

Make sure your managers have all the tools to deliver information. Whether it’s a bullet point list or a PowerPoint presentation – whatever helps enhance the communication should be made easily available. A great deal of having information understood is conveying it in the most effective way. Visuals like videos, graphs or images can help improve the message, so it’s important to think about what media to employ (if any) when you’re launching the information.

Managing cultural change

Ultimately, cascading communication is about working together as a network. This is why fragmented organizations exhibit poor communication: people are pulling in different directions and therefore creating a disordered message. Cultural change requires conformity, consensus, and co-operation. It also requires strong leadership skills from those key players within the business. When you have these, you can start working on ensuring messages, news and change is communicated effectively. But the cascade doesn’t just rely on conveying the message, the hard work is managing the cultural change – reinforcing it to the point where each member of the organization fully understands the information and what is required of them.

retaining staff
Guide

14 steps to great internal communications

Download this handy eBook and discover practical tools and tips to maximize engagement and impact business performance through internal comms.