Internal Communications for Workplace Success
Internal Communications may be MORE important than the messaging you do outside your company. That’s especially true if you’ve got people speaking on your behalf!
Internal Communications for Workplace Success!
Almost every article we post here comes down – in one sense or another – to your ability to communicate the plan. With that, let’s take a quick look at what you are doing and can do better to get the message across.
1. Group Meetings
This is probably the most over-rated communications device in the history of sitting down with other people. In short, most companies don’t realize what cannot be said in a meeting, don’t make any effort to get at it and end up with a couple of hours completely wasted and the wrong message communicated. If your new offices were designed to hold lots of simultaneous meetings, then you probably have a meeting-dependent staff who attend simply because they are obligated and who could not care less what is the outcome. A colleague once said to this author, “I’ve never attended a meeting that couldn’t have been handled better in a memo.” Work to eliminate group meetings and convert the space into break rooms where actual work can get done.
2. Face to Face
That said, there is a lot to be said for communication face to face. Two people can solve any problem you can throw at them, but there needs to be trust, willingness to listen and confidence. If your people aren’t talking then no amount of meetings will help. (See the part about break rooms above).
Most companies use it, sort of. Smaller HR staffs depend on it. Larger companies depend on a whole Internal Communications department, and they still often get it wrong. The main thing overlooked is the alignment of goals and priorities with the company’s stated, repeated and posted values and mission.
A company really can have someone from HR typing of policies, announcements, inspirational notes, news and changes. There’s nothing wrong with that. But increasingly, mid-sized and smaller companies are relying on professional communicators, from marketing and communications areas, to better craft and hone the ultimate message – and to be sure it’s in-line with the over all company mission. Don’t neglect the importance of good quality emails. A typo won’t kill you, but indifference will.
- Is there someone on the other end to receive replies to your emails?
4. Company Newsletter
This is another area that gets too often neglected. Hire a professional if necessary, but your newsletter should be vital for every employee – exactly as your company is vital to them. If you can’t find news, again, bring in a professional – or your star talent – and have them point out what’s important to them.
There is a tidal wave of companies and consultancies hocking “employee engagement surveys” right now. It’s always amusing what companies will pay to avoid engaging with their employees. Here’s the secret you need to know.
If management isn’t prepared to receive feedback on the job they’re doing then you need different management. Some companies can’t handle too much feedback all at once, and that’s understandable. Make anonymous, no-holds-barred surveys a regular, weekly part of your operations. A twenty dollar account with SurveyMonkey.com will save you a fortune and engage your people, and maybe even put a fire under your management teams.
Unlike most of the above, this one doesn’t often go totally wrong. But keep in mind, training is not just for skills, but a chance to get your message across, and to learn yourself. Classroom settings can go horribly wrong – especially in meeting-dependent companies where employees are accustomed to sitting and doing nothing in a room with other people. Plan carefully with your facilitators, trainers and teachers. Make sure HR keeps an open relationship with them and that changes in culture and message are well understood. And obviously, this is not a ruler on the knuckles kind of school room. Use the time well. Make sure that the right people are there to listen and learn – from the students!
Inside your company, there are these ways and more to reinforce and expand a culture of engagement, learning and communication. These are some of the most important – but most important of all is that all of your communications are two way. Inside and out, you’ll learn more from listening than from talking. Do you have the right people listening?
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