Master class in internal communications - 5 easy lessons to improve internal communication
Most companies and organizations spend more money and put greater focus on external communications than on their internal communications. The latter are far too often unintentionally neglected, which can prove to be very costly in the long run. Without smooth and efficient internal communications, production processes and quality will suffer and costs subsequently driven ever higher. Eventually, there may not be anything left to communicate to the outside world ….
In this blog post, we’ll give you five easy lessons on how to improve internal communications and avoid an internal communications desert. But first a few words about the vital importance of good internal communications.
Double your odds
External communications are obviously of crucial importance in order to keep sales up and running, your brand healthy, the stock market content, and your customers happy. But, without smoothly functioning internal communications, your production and business processes will become inefficient and your organization increasingly difficult to manage.
Fortunately, it really doesn’t have to cost a great deal if you have a modern and dynamic intranet in place. What’s more, smooth internal communications also reduce the costs of production, customer support, employee turnover, sick leave, quality errors, conflict management, and so on. Even external communications improve as a consequence of your employees being better informed and motivated, thereby reducing the need for and costs of customer care and marketing activities.
Perhaps the most valuable consequence of good internal communications is increased employee engagement. According to a Gallup study in 2017, business or work units that score in the top quartile of their organization in terms of employee engagement boast nearly double the odds of success when compared with those in the bottom quartile. For instance, the units in the top quartile easily beat the units in the bottom quartile by recording 21% higher profitability, 41% less absenteeism, and 40% fewer quality defects. (The report is based on data collected from more than 195,600 U.S. employees and more than 31 million respondents through Gallup's Q12 Client
#1 Involve your leaders
The somewhat well-worn expression ”walk the talk” is far from just a cliché. On the contrary, it is highly relevant in every organization. If the leaders don’t act, communicate and live by their own directives and visions, no one else will either. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial to engage every high-ranking decision-maker in the internal communication processes. If they are heard and seen to be actively carrying out the policies and executing the actions they themselves have decided on, the whole organization will be automatically encouraged to “follow-the-leader”.
One of a leader’s most important tasks is to provide the team members with constructive feedback regularly and frequently. Nothing is more devastating to an employee’s morale and drive than the lack of feedback. And it really doesn’t require all that much feedback to boost a person’s or a whole team’s self-esteem and engagement.
#2 Sync with strategies and visions
Internal communications are in fact a strategic management tool. It’s not just about streamlining processes, distributing information or getting your team to work more efficiently. It’s first and foremost about ensuring that business strategies and visions are realized. And, for that to happen, you need to ensure your communication plans are in perfect sync with your business strategies, visions, and concrete business objectives.
In practical terms, this means, for instance, that the image of your brand, enterprise or organization that is projected externally must be communicated and lived internally … “walk the talk”, in other words.
#3 Be personal
They say that honesty is the best policy, and internal communication is no exception to this rule. Openness, transparency, and honesty will be rewarded in the same coin by your co-workers. Team spirit and employee engagement will also be boosted. If you are forthright and personal in every piece of information conveyed, constantly keeping an open dialogue with your employees, you will reinforce management’s credibility and bring the very best out of your team.
It is also important to personalize communications. By this, we mean that your internal communications need to be designed to match employees’ work roles and personal interests, ensuring that critical information reaches the right people, at the right time, and that your communication tools are perceived as being more relevant and attractive.
#4 Swop seats and gain fresh insights
A new job usually leads to fresh insights, knowledge, and inspiration, but you don’t have to change employers to achieve this. Instead, you can just swap seats with your colleagues and explore your organization’s processes and communications from a different perspective.
For instance, what does a working day look like for your consultants, salespeople, factory workers, support technicians, and receptionists? Change seats with them for a few hours, participate in their daily routines, and learn how they perceive and use your internal communications tools and channels.
You will probably be surprised. Their working days, needs, and preferences, around which you have built your communications solutions, may be quite different from what you had previously imagined. As you well know, it’s not until you have walked a mile in someone else’s moccasins that you can fully understand them.
#5 Just pace your strokes
A communicator can be compared to an elite swimmer. Just like the swimmer, you need to maintain optimal balance in pacing your efforts. If you push too hard and too fast, your communications risk drowning under their own weight. To achieve successful, sustainable, and easily managed communications, you need to plan ahead, be aware of any storm clouds, and keep a steady constant pace in the daily flow of information.
Ready, steady, dive!