Evidence from numerous industry reports produced year-on-year show that line managers are central to keeping employees engaged and informed, and that they are the most preferred choice of communication channel for employees.
And yet, a recent study published by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ CIPR Inside committee finds that line managers are not prepared enough and are ‘set up to fail’ owing to a lack of proper communications training.
The report – on Effective line manager communications – shows a clear divide between the high expectations of line managers and the actual reality – that the tools and skills they’re provided to optimally support their teams are far from adequate – with only 15% saying communication training was compulsory, and 51% saying that training was voluntary.
Based on the research findings, 1 in 5 respondents added that better collaboration between the HR and internal communications (IC) business functions would hugely help to improve and inform the communications approach for line managers.
- 73% report that communication is valued as a leadership skill, but just 15% said training was mandatory for line managers
- 72% said face-to-face briefings are the most effective way of engaging with managers, although they only to take place monthly
- 56% IC professionals don’t have access to data that could inform their communications approach
- “Leaders of line managers need to set the expectation and accountability.” – research participant
Commenting on the findings, Dan Holden Chart.PR, FCIPR, CIPR Inside Chair said: “Time and time again, effective line manager communication has proven to be a tough nut to crack. Business leaders know it’s important in internal communication to get this right but frequently it isn’t given the requisite time, priority or budget needed to fully succeed.”
“This report shows there is still a skills gap when it comes to supporting line managers to deliver effective communication. Too often, when having conversations with managers, they’ve never been given the tools or skills needed to support their teams. Businesses invest in their channels such as intranets and social enterprise platforms but aren’t making the same investment in their line managers”, he added.
As such, the role of line managers and effective line manager communications is only set to grow and evolve, with all the constant and often complex workplace changes and shake-ups setting the pace, as we’ve been experiencing over the last three years.
But there’s help at hand – the study includes top tips, reflective questions, and an action plan worksheet inspired by the research – to support IC, HR, L&D and senior management teams to be joined up in understanding current line manager communication challenges, and taking measures in the right direction.
Author: Binu Jacob – EFS Content Lead and Comms Strategist