Mandy Collins & Associates

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Doing an information dump: tips for wrangling your comms

In the olden days, when I was in formal employment, starting at a new job was fairly simple. Someone showed you where to find your desk and computer, you filled in a form with your details for the personnel department, someone else showed you where to get stationery if you needed it, and you began working.

Today, of course, personnel has become human resources, and employees are “onboarded” thoroughly, extensively, and often quite impersonally, if I may say so – as they engage with onboarding documents they have to read, and/or videos they’re required to watch, perhaps get some training on a learning platform, and so on.

But let’s look at the documents. A recent client whose company had grown quite quickly and gained a bunch of employees in the process needed help with their onboarding information for new employees. Some of it sat in the people function, some sat with comms, some was missing entirely – and it needed to be updated and completed in a hurry.

The biggest problem? The documents were in a bazillion different places on Sharepoint. Apart from the fact that it’s quite unwieldy to have to click through to a small chunk of information and then keep coming back to where you were, just from a user perspective, it also means that as a company you never have sight of the whole thing. That means you miss duplications, you can’t see the gaps, and there’s no sense of the overall flow.

So before I started working on the text, that was the first task: to dump everything into one file, in the designated order and assess it properly. It’s a technique I use often – getting the basic shape or outline in place first before I start working with individual sections or even sentences. It’s a boring, tedious progress, but in the long run it helps you to be more strategic and efficient in producing the final product.

If you’re travelling to a venue in another city, you don’t start by figuring out which streets you need to turn down – you figure out how to get from where you are to the city first, and then you navigate your way to the precise location you need to be at. It’s the same principle – and it can make those unwieldy documents much easier to tackle.

Once you’ve done that, you can figure out how best to communicate the information in the document – whether you’re in human resources, finance or sales. Communication isn’t only for the comms and marketing people – it’s fundamental to every part of your business.

So if communication isn’t your forté, drop me a line on mandy@mandycollins.co.za. Because it is mine, and I’d love to help you!

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