It’s all in the ‘letter’

If you received the following message from your line manager, how would it make you feel?


When I opened yet another email from a line manager in my distant past, I felt annoyed, degraded and demotivated, over time it really made me question my skills in that role. In fact, after a few messages of this nature, my willingness to work at all ground to halt, a little like adding diesel to a petrol engine, and I’m sure managing a demotivated employee was like pushing a broken down car up a steep hill.

Messages like this came in thick and fast 20 years ago when I had a line manager who did not see why my feelings should matter, one that thought the only recognition I needed was of monetary value. I was being paid, shouldn’t that be enough?

Thankfully the value of employee engagement has come on a long way in the past 20 years and most employees are valued on the amount of their ‘self’ that is present in the role they have. William A. Khan mentions that researchers began to look at how fully an employee is psychologically present while carrying out their particular role. (Khan, 1990).

Jumping to more recent times, we are less likely to receive dictatorial type messaging from line management.

How can we do this together?”

This is an email that I received last year from my line manager. So few words, lowercase, yet such a profound difference in connotation.


‘How can we’…

The combination of ‘modification’, ‘action’, and ‘collaboration’ in three little words.


…an adverb, it can initiate a thought process in a specific direction.

By what means? In what manner? In what way? To what extent? For what reason? To what effect?


…verb, a word of action, permission and authority.

To be able to. To know how to. To have the ability to. To have the possibility to.


Quite simply means plural of ‘I’.

So, Is collaboration as simple as rewording our communications to colleagues?

I would argue that although the way we word communications to colleagues has a considerable impact on the way it is received, it is just one string in the communicators bow.

Communicating in a positive manner can be likened to putting the correct fuel in a vehicle. Although it may improve performance to a degree, it won’t be transformational to the vehicles appearance and our trust that the vehicle will not break down.

Organisational collaboration requires openness, trust, ownership, and clear multi-directional communication that involves every employee at every level across all areas of the organisation and of course, results.

The internal communicator must become the diagnostic tool for the company. Gathering feedback and analysing the preferences of their audience, will enable the organisation to make informed decisions that will dramatically improve the amount of ‘self’ your employees apply to their role.

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