Solving the Overcrowded Channel Problem

During the last couple of months we’ve interviewed hundreds of different managers about their communication habits. It has been one of the most exciting and rewarding journeys for me so far. These are passionate people leaders are navigating in a daily storm of communication and deadlines. What strikes me as an essential trait when speaking with them is the empathy they continuously show.

June 15, 2021

The willingness to listen and curiosity about how to improve the daily workflow always comes up in the interviews. One discovery I made early on in the process was that at one point, the conversation always started to shift from cultural workflow habits in the company to the elephant in the room: channels. Without them you cannot communicate - use them wrong, and you can make a real mess.

Most of the leaders I interview use email as their primary channel of communication to distribute important info to their partners, coworkers, and network. About 80% also find themselves in a split between email, intranet, and social channels like Slack, WhatsApp, and Teams. Multiple channels result in double communication (i.e. sending an email about posting a message on the intranet) and a false perception by the target group of over-communication. One of the people leaders I spoke to summed this up clearly:

Employees are saying they do not know what is going on in the company, even though there is over-communication.

Why does this happen? I chose to dig a bit deeper into the problem.

Analyzing channel use across various industries, we are observing three major trends:

The people leaders I speak with, which shares this use case in their company, are consistently using vast amounts of time to post content and remind coworkers manually. They are working across multiple channels without consistent metrics and analytics to guide them. We see that companies using 2-3 channels retrieve the most efficiency out of the channels themselves. At a channel count over three, the benefits start to deteriorate, mostly because of the substantial maintenance issues manually serving them with the same info.

Here are our main tips on what to do if your channels are starting to get overcrowded and inefficient:

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Henrik Jesman Sunde

Chief Executive Officer

Henrik is the Founder and CEO of Zelo, a B2B SaaS that helps managers reach and engage their employees without the burden of silo communication systems. Henrik has built successful companies within communications for the last decade and has a wide international network of advisors and clients.

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