I hope you’re not seeing the word “memo” being thrown around as often I have been lately. I thought for sure that word had been outlawed when email came around, but I digress.
A few weeks back, I received an email from a very reputable HR consulting practice telling me all about how I need to learn how to create more effective “HR memos for managers.” Um, what? I haven’t written a “memo” in at least 10 years, likely longer. Why would I need to learn how to do that now?
This is a classic case of not knowing your audience. And I bet you’re doing the same thing to your employees’ time and time again.
In the example above, I dug a little deeper and learned that the person who crafted the free download guide email, was an attorney by trade and a baby boomer. Not that there is anything wrong with either demographic assignation, but it is interesting to examine if those two factors led to an email that completely missed the mark for his target audience: HR professionals who are gen x or millennials.
His perspective created blind spots that didn’t align with his target audience. Which happens to all of us daily – even in our personal lives.
But being that you’re not able to transform yourself into each employee’s demographic fit, how should you go about creating messages that connect and engage them? How do you still craft communications about important HR work, that reach your majority with impact?
The answer to that can be lengthy and technical, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, there are a few things you can do right now to shift from your “demographic bias” into connecting with your employees.
1. Understand the demographic of your majority audience, for each communication
This sounds like it would be labor intensive, but you already have all the information – so it’s taking about five minutes to look at it to ensure it reaches who you need it to. For example, if you are trying to reach leaders at the manager-level in R&D, you can pull some quick data to understand more about who they are. Where are they located, what’s the average tenure with the company, where do they land in the performance scale, and so on? Quick items that can help you determine the best way to reach them.
By doing a quick demographic check for your majority audience, you can keep those details in mind when you start to craft your message.
2. Write to one specific person in your majority audience
Sometimes thinking about or making an assumption about what a certain demographic may need/want to hear, gets… taxing. Instead of trying to write to a “demographic,” use those details as your frame of reference then pick one person within your target market to write to.
You’re in HR – you have people connections and relationships with others in with organization – so pull from those to craft your messages.
Pick one person, say Sally, and use her as your reference point when you get to writing in step 3.
3. Create a conversational draft one
Don’t try and be all “corporatey” with your first draft. That just ends up blah and completely missing the mark. Instead, think about your one person, Sally in our example, and jot down exactly how you would explain it to her if you were having a conversation.
Heck, if writing that seems weird or uncomfortable to you, take out your phone and record yourself talking out loud about the topic. Tell your Sally, everything she needs to know about the new program, rollout, change, etc. for that specific project. Tell her the point of what your email is supposed to get across. Then get it transcribed (no, do NOT do it yourself – holy waste of time batman!).
This conversation should be the basis of your message. I bet not once did you speak in an AP only appropriate sentence or refer to someone by their last name. 😉