Decluttering expert Marie Kondo has inspired household purges all over the world, but what would it mean to apply her teachings to the world of internal communication?
If you catch your partner/friend/housemate holding up a three-year old promotional t-shirt and staring intently at it, rest assured they’re not losing the plot. Chances are they’ve been binging Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
Kondo is an organisational consultant, whose 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing sold eight-million copies and rests on the idea of decluttering your home and life by discarding any items that do not ‘spark joy’ when you hold them.
Her influence is making headlines this year — from charity shops overflowing with donations of unwanted household items to real-life Kondos who can come and declutter your life. But what could her influence do for the world of internal communication? Here are some of Kondo’s principal teachings, with an IC twist…
1. Tidy by category, not rooms: Rather than tidying your bedroom, then the living room, and so on, Kondo says you should organise by category. This could be by items like books or toiletries, which will be dotted throughout your house.
Similarly, you should tackle your communications by category, not channel. How many business updates do you publish? Where can employees find people stories? Soon enough you’ll notice where there are overlaps and repetitions, helping you establish a streamlined communications mix which employees know how to navigate to find relevant information.
2. Nostalgia is not your friend: Kondo is not one for holding onto items for sentimental reasons, even if that broken snow globe reminds you of your favourite family Christmas.
In the same way, organisations should not hang onto a way of communicating just because it’s ‘the way we’ve always done things’ or it worked well in the past. Trialling new communication methods may result in a temporary dip in engagement as people get used to the new world order, but if they’re a better fit overall the long-term gain will outweigh any temporary downturn.
3. Respect your belongings. Kondo says we should think about how our items feel, screwed up on the floor or falling into disrepair. Do they look miserable?
While we’re not advocating worrying about whether your employee newsletter is a bit down in the dumps, there is a lesson here: look after your communications like you would any prized possession. Create communication standards and stick to them — and make sure others do too by creating a communication request template that sets strict guidelines for what gets said where and when.
4. Only keep items that ‘spark joy’. Perhaps the most famous of Kondo’s lessons is to only keep items that ‘spark joy’ when you hold them.
For internal communication, however, it is not about what sparks joy for the organisation. Rather it is using measurement and evaluation to see what content and channels are sparking joy for employees. And if something clearly isn’t getting a joyful reaction, use measurement to work out why not. That way you can decide whether it needs refreshing or — as Kondo would recommend — throwing out.
But perhaps the main benefit from Kondo’s lessons is the clarity that comes from getting your house in order, so to speak. After all, if you have a streamlined communication mix that maintains consistently high standards and regularly measures its effectiveness, that’s half the job done, freeing you up to focus on the more strategic elements of your role.
When it comes to your communications mix, we are practiced ‘Kondos’. From improving face-to-face communications to evaluating the effectiveness of your current channels, we help you measure and audit what you do – and how you do it.
Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can help you improve your employee experience.