Communications Mechanisms

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Communications Mechanisms

Audience-Centric Communication

Holistic communication is about understanding and structuring communication to achieve the best results. This is not always an easy proposition, as effectively communicating a message can be described as changing another person’s perception of an idea. One of the keys to successfully getting desired communication results is knowing the target audience and providing the right communication mechanism.


There is a broad range of communication mechanisms available for use, and selecting the right one will increase the likelihood of success. Once the audience is identified it is worthwhile to consider the communication style that the audience would best respond to (verbal, experiential, visual or written), what media or social media platforms they have access to, and whether an interactive environment is appropriate.

The content of your communication can be just as important as the person delivering the message. Consider how the audience will respond to the messengers selected to deliver the TAM communication.

Table 3.3 - Comparing Formal and Informal Communication

Basis for ComparisonFormal CommunicationInformal Communication
MeaningCommunication done through predefined channels set by the organization. TAM programs commonly use formal channels for cyclical reporting of performance, or engagement strategies to advance improvement projects.The interchange of communication stretches in all directions and is uncontrolled.
TAM programs commonly create change that manifests informal communication as people are experiencing the change. If managed carefully, it can help advance buy-in and increase the authenticity of program merits.
Otherwise known asOfficial communicationGrapevine communication
AdvantagesTimely and systematic flow of information.
TAM communication strategies help agencies identify the message, timing and dissemination aspects of formal communication.
Efficient because the information can flow quickly and focus will be personal to the individuals.
TAM program champions and advocates need to monitor informal communication and provide feedback to help refine messaging in official channels.
DisadvantagesMore expensive and challenging to communicate personally to individuals and ensure understanding.
More agencies have existing communication resources that can be leveraged. However, some consideration of targeted messaging to TAM stakeholders may require adjustments to existing channels.
Difficult to maintain secrecy and stop misinterpretation.
Transparency and consistency in messaging about the TAM programs’ expected benefits and expected implementation timings helps avoid these disadvantages. Should establish feedback mechanisms where there is anticipated risk of resistance to the TAM program.
EvidenceGenerally written with recorded distribution.
This can be useful as a historical timeline, as improvement is tracked over time. TAM implementations take time to make gains. Also good to have a record of past communication that reveals incremental improvement that is not apparent unless assessed over a longer time horizon.
Often no documented evidence of communication.
Anonymity can be an advantage to receiving honest feedback about how the TAM program needs to adjust to advance improvement initiatives.
Necessary to monitor informal channels to gain insights unavailable in formal channels.
TAMP, Data Reporting, Performance Reporting, Program Updates.Peer-to-peer interactions discussion about progress, informal discussion driven by increased awareness and training.

Agencies can choose both formal and informal communication based on the situation. Select the best approach for your agency based on your culture and context.

Table 3.4 - Overview of TAM Communication Mechanisms

MechanismConsiderations (Pro: +, Con: -)Internal TAM ExamplesExternal TAM Examples
Reports+ Opportunity to provide detailed information the reader can digest in their own time
+ Formal communication that is a statement of a position at a defined time.
- Can be hard to get feedback
Annual State of the Infrastructure Report
Websites, Social media, and Push/Interactive notifications+ Highly interactive
+ Reaches many people quickly
- Feedback is “public” and takes time to manage
- Technology may not be accessible to all
Dashboard on internal metricsDashboard for performance reporting
Consultation and feedback on service delivery
Brochures/ Post cards, Newsletters+ Enables simple messages to be clearly communicated
+ Internal newsletters can be used to inform and engage a broad audience
- Can be expensive to produce (in physical form)
- Not suitable for getting feedback
Quarterly updates on improvements/ achievements in TAMPost cards on upcoming asset improvements
Presentations, Training+ Opportunity to interact and gather feedback
+ Opportunity for listeners to learn through experiencing
- Requires significant time commitment from participants
- Good for a few specific individuals, but challenging to influence more than a few
Formal training
Focused status reporting to top management
Community meetings on upcoming asset improvements
Videos+ Enables simple messages to be clearly communicated
+ Can quickly share information to broad audience
+ Opportunity for leadership to be involved in reinforcing a message
- Can be hard to get feedback
- Can be time consuming to develop

A well-crafted communications plan will empower individuals or units within the agency to communicate. While this may require establishing some standards, limits, or constraints, the focus of the plan should be on providing tools and guidance to promote effective communication.