Communicating with a Common Language

Communicating with a Common Language

Communication Consistency

Communicating consistently across your organization’s humanscape is a practice that promotes connection, alignment and efficiency. It establishes a simplicity in the way employees connect, work toward goals, and create momentum for the organization. But what does consistent communication look like in practice, and how does an organization promote these communication practices?

Defining a Common Language

A common language is a foundational component of the organization experience. It’s a dialect formed by a combination of:

  • An organization’s reason for being, core values and ground rules
  • An organization’s way of working, or operating system, and how you refer to, measure the success of, and learn from projects, goals, outcomes
  • All internal frameworks, policies and processes
  • Industry jargon and your interpretation of it

Every organization makes choices about their unique language, and continues to build it as it’s spoken, written, challenged, clarified and evolved. Having a common language can include words or phrases that many people would understand, ones that might have more than one meaning and require clarification to those outside the organization, or even words you consciously avoid. Organization leaders make and model the intentional decisions about how you refer to everything in the scope of your business and humanscape.

Start by asking:

  • What labels do we have for people, places or processes? (ex: employees or associates)
  • What phrases do we use that might mean something different to someone outside of the organization?
  • What acronyms or abbreviations do we teach to new hires?

Language in Your People Touchpoints

How can you use your common language within each of your organization’s 12 People Touchpoints? Who is involved in the strategy and execution of each touchpoints, and needs to be part of the conversation? What documentation currently exists and needs to exist for each touchpoint?

  1. Communication
  2. DEI & Belonging
  3. Offboarding
  4. Onboarding
  5. Performance Management
  6. Processes & Policies
  7. Recognition
  8. Strategy & Planning
  9. Surveying
  10. Talent Discovery
  11. Training & Development
  12. Well-Being

Maintaining Your Common Language

A common language is built over time, unlike a dictionary that’s rarely reprinted. Having a common language works when it’s set up to evolve and change; It requires employees to be open beyond “that’s how we’ve always done it,” to challenge components of the language and to adopt suggestions and ideas. As with learning any new language, there’s a learning curve, and as with maintaining any language skills, practice makes perfect.