A TYSK is a short, easy-to-produce communication that’s fun, reinforces strategy, and motivates employees to respond.
When I worked at GE, every one of us knew that if Jack Welch came to visit and happened to stop one of us in the hallway and ask, “What’s your bottom line,” we’d better know the answer. As leaders, we knew that it was our job to be sure that every employee knew the facts about our competition, our strategy and goals, and our progress against those strategies and goals. We communicated these things in a number of ways, but employees told us that one of the most effective, simplest, and engaging communications was our TYSK. Now you might wonder, TYSK, what’s a TYSK? The acronym stands for Things You Should Know. We produced this brief eNewsletter once a week. The writing was concise and fun, and our TYSK consisted of just three parts:
- 3-5 updates about our progress against key goals, always highlighting and giving credit to the people who were responsible.
- A contest consisting of one question related to our strategy, a goal, or the competition. The first person who responded with the right answer was the winner. And yes, as corny as it may seem, there was a prize. A small prize, but people loved to go for it. Prizes ranged from a set of golf balls to a shirt or a coffee mug with our logo. The prize wasn’t the issue–competing to get the right answer in first was the point. By asking these questions, we reinforced key strategic messages every week.
- The answer to the previous week’s question with the name of the winner, which also reinforced key messages about an element of our strategy, a goal, or the competition.
The reason our TYSK was successful in keeping everyone up to date was because it was short, it was fun, it involved people, and it reinforced important elements relating to our success. One of the biggest challenges leaders face these days is gaining employee mind share. In this digital world, people are deluged with thousands of messages every day. In order to gain some of that mindshare, leaders have to be creative. It has nothing to do with how smart people are or how committed they are. Gaining mindshare has to do with our ability as leaders to create compelling, memorable, and easy to digest communications. What creative communications have worked in your organization?