‘Tell me what I need to know,
tell me what I need to do’
Tesco is the 8th largest retailer in the world with 450,000 employees and has shops in seven countries across Europe and Asia. It is the market leader of groceries in the UK, Ireland, Hungary and Thailand. The challenge to effectively communicate and engage with hundreds of thousands of employees is significant. Being able to get across messages quickly, to all employees in different areas of a country, or even in different countries with multiple languages and different time zones can present its own headaches!
At Tesco “Tell me what I need to know” and “Tell me what I need to do” are at the heart of internal communication. As is keeping communication simple and visual. This is important when it comes to communicating effectively with a mass audience. Keeping messages to the point and on a need to know basis means employees are not inundated with unnecessary information, which can result in ignored and missed details. It also keeps all comms relevant and important, meaning employees know that there is a point to all messages.
‘Tell me what I need to do’ means negating all unnecessary information and making sure the recipient has a clear understanding of what is needed from them. For the employee knowing messages have these 2 subject matters means they have clear expectations.
Using the visual aspect keeps people interested. Using different multimedia, such as videos, photos, slideshows or even memes to put across messages keeps the messages punchy and relevant but also can help put across messages in a happier, fun and on-trend manner, especially if there is a negative connotation and can boost morale amongst the team.
We aimed every piece of communication at a new starter. Never assuming previous knowledge on a subject and keeping information basic means that comms can go out to the whole audience without alienating anyone. It also means messages are precise and basic enough for everyone to follow. We assumed nothing and spent time making every guideline and instruction shorter.
Keep it simple
As the famous quotes goes “Forgive me for writing such a long letter, I didn’t have time to write a short one”. Keeping all messages valid and precise without confusion. Simple and straight forward are behaviour values at the heart of the Tesco culture and this can be seen via communication too.
Top tips we can learn from Tesco
- Keep it simple
- Aim at a new starter audience
- Use ’need to know’ and ’need to do’ structure
- Be timely – not too early and never late
- Align communication to the values and culture eg if a brand value is ‘open’, then ensure communication reflects this
- Use the channels your employees use
- Encourage interaction and feedback
Using these principles as the foundation of communications means speaking to thousands of employees in multiple places becomes a piece of cake!
Sean Murray / Founder of The Retail Practice
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