How to get line managers to love the manager toolkit

There’s a common exclamation we often hear from our fellow internal communicators whenever the subject of line manager communication rears its head;

“I’ve crafted this beautiful manager toolkit with great content to help my leaders communicate our latest change programme to staff – but none of them ever use it!”

It’s a bit like that mix tape you lovingly created for your beloved when you were a teenager only for it to be unceremoniously dumped in the glove box of their car, with a promise it will be listened to at a later date.  A date which never seemed to arise.

So how can this crushing disappointment be reduced?

The top five topics to include in manager toolkits

The best line manager toolkits will stimulate a mindset by providing the correct one-stop suite of communication tools to help leaders translate and localise strategic messages.

Obviously, each toolkit will need to be tailored depending on the audience and the nature of the programme or campaign you are communicating. But there is some standard content which should always appear.

We recently did some research on line manager toolkits and identified five key sections which always feature – regardless of the subject matter or industry sector.  These are;

  1. Guidelines for use – it might sound simple but have you actually explained how managers should use the toolkit? Is it a step-by-step process for communication or a general book of ideas?
  2. The role of line managers in employee engagement – do line managers know what is expected of them in terms of engaging their people?
  3. Understanding the strategy or reason for change – do they have the burning platform that makes the need for change clear?
  4. How to communicate the strategy/change to your teams – are the managers adequately equipped to communicate the message?
  5. Practical hints and tips for running successful team meeting – seeing as most managers are likely to talk to their team members in regular team meetings, have you given them pointers on how to position the message and deal with any challenging questions?

Show your line managers the love

But as good as line manager toolkits are, the secret to better line management engagement is to make sure you actually talk to them.

Involve managers on the types of tools they are likely to need prior to producing your beautiful toolkit.  Invite a few managers to your regular monthly communication network calls or ring them direct and ask the question. This will help you shape what you think they want with what they actually need.

Be sure to run dedicated line manager focus groups to ensure they have the skills and content to communicate change at a local level.  Use the toolkit as a practical takeaway from these sessions which line managers can use as reference to and support on what has been discussed.

Of course, you should always be having informal conversations with your line managers – make sure you get out and about in the business on a regular basis so you get to understand their pain points.  This can be as simple as a chat by the water cooler or lunch in the canteen.

And make sure the toolkit is available in the right format and on an intranet site that managers can access – something which equally applies to the love struck mix tape maker I mentioned at the start of this blog, who might have had more luck by also creating an i-tunes playlist!

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