Maintain the Message

Properly communicating the company message is the responsibility of everyone within an organization, from the receptionist on up to the CEO.  But how do you ensure that the person answering the phones is speaking the party line?

To guarantee a consistent message tape answers to frequently asked – and crucial questions – near the main phone bank.  But don’t post and forget it!  Check it on a monthly basis and update as necessary.  In challenging economies, information often grows stale quicker than you can say audit.

Also, provide updated facts and figures on a regular basis.  Communicate any noteworthy information to the receptionist and his/her backup ASAP – sometimes their need to know is actually more immediate than middle managers who aren’t necessarily speaking with the public and customers on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

Additionally, an intranet is a great tool for spreading the word to everyone while maintaining a consistent message.  For it to work and be effective, however, someone needs to commit to keeping it updated on a regular basis.  Also, the information needs to be pertinent, otherwise employees will soon recognize it as a waste of time and will readily drop it out of their information line up.

Last but not least, don’t forget those all important water cooler conversations.  Monitor the company grapevine and if the message you hear is NOT consistent with the message you want, it may be time to make a more concerted effort to communicate with employees.  Remember, if YOU don’t provide the information, someone else will.

– Robin Fritz, Adjunct Lecturer, Division of Business, Indiana University-Columbus

When to Sign a Memo

The following is an article written by X204 Business Communication Adjunct Lecturer Robin Fritz for eHow.com’s Money section:

To sign or not to sign?  That is the question that often arises when busy managers set out to write a memo.  Unlike business letters – which clearly require a signature – memos are a different animal altogether, and whether or not to sign them isn’t clear to many young managers just starting out in the business world.  The following tips, however, will help shed some light on whether to sign or not to sign. 

Know the difference between a memo and a letter.  Letters written on company letterhead are external documents – they tend to go to smaller outside audiences, such as clients, suppliers, industry regulators, etc. – making a signature a required element.  Memos, however, are internal and usually go to a company’s employees – which may include hundreds of people.  In practice, memos DON’T include a signature.  But sometimes managers are wise to include their initials next to their name in the header.  The real trick is knowing when and if to do so.

Know the purpose of a memo.  Second to email, memos are a primary tool used by managers to share information with employees, whether it be simple announcements or key information regarding changes in policies.  In short, some memos tend to be more sensitive in nature than others.

How sensitive is the information?  Routine memos – those that deal with non-controversial topics – make up the bulk of memos sent by managers.  These types of memos rarely require follow up and tend to be taken at face value.  Other topics, such as corporate downsizing measures, reduced health benefits, etc., can be difficult for employees to hear and, as a result, their validity may be challenged.  When the topic is sensitive, the memo writer may initial the memo to add validity to the contents.  But even then, initials are NOT required.

How many people will receive the memo?  Again, memos sometimes go to hundreds of people and even initialing them may be a time consuming task.  In the business world, time is money – and adding even initials may be a large undertaking.  When deciding whether or not to initial a memo, ask, what value is being added with this task?  If none, skip it.

Tip: Signature blocks signal to readers that they’ve reached the end of a letter.  With memos, however, telegraph the ending by using transitional expressions highlighting the conclusion, such as “In closing” or “Lastly.”

Warning: Remember, whether you’re writing a memo or a letter, with or without a signature, the content can be a legally binding document.  Never dash off any correspondence in haste – you could get yourself, and your company, in hot water.

 http://www.ehow.com/how_6110660_sign-business-memo.html