Line managers are the secret weapon to comms success
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Line managers are the secret weapon to comms success

You would think that exploring the role of line managers would fall within HR’s remit.  And for the most part, it does. Except as viewing the line manager role as a communication channel.

When people are placed or promoted into a line manager role, they have much more responsibility outside of the specific service or product skills required. Instead of just performing their role they are now responsible for people in the business. For their performance, progression, engagement, and investment in the business.

Building on their skills

When people become line managers, they quickly need to gain new skills in how to be a people leader. They need communication skills, leadership skills, decision-making skills, interpersonal skills, technical skills, and conceptual skills to fulfil their role.

What people overlook is that internal communication plays a big part in a line managers role. Internal communication gives line managers the tools and builds on their skills to communicate with their teams and people in the business.

Line managers need to understand the bigger strategic picture within the business. They now need to look wider than their own team and department. They need to understand how their team’s efforts impact other areas of the business and their clients.

This requires a lot more strategic skills, business acumen, analytical, and behavioural skills.

Part of internal communications is to educate people on how to communicate effectively with each other.

We have a great course targeted for line managers, upskilling them to understand not just how to communicate, but the strategy behind the communication and how it needs to relate back to the business objectives, strategy and values.

As a channel

Within the internal communication industry, line managers are also seen as a channel. They are a way to distribute information, news, and communications to people throughout the business.

So, why should we consider line managers as a channel?

Well, if we don’t, we usually see them as a barrier.

Line managers are great gatekeepers for what information is passed on to their teams, in their team meetings and one-to-ones. By getting line managers involved in communication campaigns early, we can engage them and educate them around what the communication is for, what it’s meant to achieve and how it should be distributed.

By not using line managers in this way, we miss out on a great opportunity to engage a wider audience through them.

As a facilitator

My definition of internal communication is:

It’s facilitating the sharing of communication within a business. It’s aligning communications with the business strategic objectives, aligning employees with the business direction, its objectives, purpose, and values. It’s concerned with employees, enabling employee engagement, driving innovation and change.

This definition applies to how line managers can share communication with their people.

They can agree on what is shared, how it’s shared when it’s shared and to whom it’s shared.

Sometimes messages aren’t meant for everyone, but only a targeted few. Line managers can help define who these people are.

They are able to work with communication teams and other communicators in the business to drive communication campaigns, drive change, drive innovative thinking and conversations.

The takeaway

Line managers shouldn’t be discounted. They also shouldn’t be seen as an enemy.

Use line managers, not only as a channel but as a facilitator to ensure your communications get to the right people in their teams. They hold the key to whether communications get through or not. They are able to change perceptions, drive engagement and advocacy. They can also just as easily turn this against you if they don’t understand the point of the communications. What it’s meant to achieve.

Get them on board.

Get them involved.

Use their access, their abilities, their skills to drive successful communication within your business.

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