H2 Cascade Communication
What Normally Happens
“Okay folks, great meeting today. I’ll craft a company-wide email to go out later this week. We also have the end of the month, all-hands meeting. So I can speak to most of what we covered today there.” Larry, as CEO, liked getting the key messages out to folks.
“Is everyone clear about the next steps? The minutes will be typed and sent out shortly,” added Scott, the Chief of Staff. Scott, who was heading out the door, was in charge of meeting minutes and distribution.
“We’re good,” was heard from a number of folks as they left the meeting.
Too often this is how meetings end. Lots of great discussion with someone promising to type up minutes that confirm everyone is operating on the same page. The problem is that once the team breaks up, they will likely be asked questions as they walk down the hall. Without clarity about the key messages to communicate and the key pieces not to communicate, each team member is left to his/her own discernment. This too often leads to mis-messaging or no-messaging, and chaos and confusion in the organization overall.
The key responsibility of the leader is to ensure people get important information quickly and consistently from the team. How can you make that happen?
We suggest building in five to ten minutes at the end of each meeting to grab the key points on a cascading communication flipchart. This way everyone sees the same thing. Don’t underestimate the power of alignment that can happen when one person writes down information everyone can see.
This flipchart becomes the talking points for each leadership team member. We suggest taking a digital photo and sending to the leadership team members – not to distribute, but to remind them of the key points.
What do we want to cascade communicate out? Usually the key communication points are:
The specific tone of how the leaders feel the meeting went or how the business is doing. Often people in the organization want to know how the leaders are feeling about what is going on.
Confirmation on what is not yet ready for prime time, meaning what stays in the “Cone of Confidentiality” of the leadership team meeting. This one is often the most important so that some leaders don’t jump the gun on issues.
How do we want to communicate this?
The best way is eye-to-eye contact from each leader with your team of directs reports within 24 hours. In order to provide information fast and to structure an immediate opportunity to voice concerns or feedback, this step is critical. If your team is the right size, this will work very well!
With a virtual group – cascade the communication by scheduling a team call within 24 hours after your leadership team meeting.
Sure, the CEO can and should have a means to broaden and support the cascading communications but he/she is not the only one. It is the job of each leadership team member to cascade the communication out. You want to effectively fill the rumor mill with the messages the leadership team believes are most important.
This communication should happen quickly and consistently. When people can count on getting the flavor and key points of the leadership team, they are less likely to need to be in the meeting.
Susan Clarke and CrisMarie Campbell are Coaches, Consultants, and Speakers at thrive! inc. (www.thriveinc.com) They help business leaders and their teams use the energy of conflict, rather than – avoid or defuse it – to get to creative, innovative, profitable business results. You can see their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! On YouTube. They would be happy to coach you, consult with your team, or to speak at your next event. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org