At first, it seems counterintuitive that people working in close proximity to one another can’t communicate well, but anyone who has worked in an office knows it to be frustratingly true. Whether it’s because of technology issues, poor company culture, or unclear reporting relationships, breakdowns in communications throw a company off-track, sap productivity and revenue, and lead to employee burnout. To improve internal communication you must put forth a disciplined effort.
Companies that excel financially and retain their employees are ones that consistently promote and improve internal communication. In fact, Inc. com reports that companies that maintain a well-planned communication strategy have a 47% higher return for shareholders, less employee turnover, and better-engaged employees. Ones that don’t lose about $37 billion each year. Which option sounds better to you?
There’s a lot of confusion among business owners about how to devise a communications strategy, and it’s likely because it just seems unnecessary. Need to talk to someone? Call! Or email! If only it were that simple.
Here are our top 5 suggestions for creating a winning communications strategy:
1. Start with your goals.
Employees work better when employer goals are transparent and easy to understand. Clear, visible goals improve workplace performance and productivity, and they excite employees to do the right thing by helping them to understand that their contribution truly impacts the company. Employees have a greater sense of responsibility for all their actions -- including how they communicate -- when they understand how their work benefits the group.
Start your communications plan with your company goals at the forefront, and watch “missed emails”, “lost memos”, and other miscommunications virtually disappear.
2. Let technology do the talking.
Sometimes it’s necessary to have meetings, especially when departments and teams need to realign their priorities and goals. Sometimes it’s necessary to send email, especially when you need to reach everyone in the company with important information and updates. But too much of either of these things burn your employees out, slowing productivity and performance.
Instead of using multiple emails to inform your employees of company updates, try something a bit more engaging and easier to use. In-house social media networks such as Yammer, Slack, Salesforce Chatter, and others can help you convey the same important information, allow employees to respond to you and communicate with each other, all while reducing the number of messages in their inbox. It’s easier on you, too.
Leverage technology even further to send out project updates via your social media business network and encourage questions or comments to get the conversation moving. Team meetings can then be reduced to team updates, informing teams of new strategies, introducing new team members, and providing answers to the most frequently asked questions. Such online communication tools reduce time wasted in scheduling and attending meetings, and improve overall employee processes without slowing down work performance. What’s more, employees can return to what was written during the discussion for clarification and direction.
3. Equip team leaders.
In most organizations, managers field the majority of questions from employees. Make sure they have the resources they need to answer those questions, including direct, open access to the executive decision makers. No one should feel intimidated to ask a question or make a suggestion. No one. Technology can be great support here, as managers can engage in ongoing conversations with team members, peer support groups, and converse with executive staff.
4. Set the tone and lead by example.
As the business owner, you need to lead by example. Creating a culture of transparency and solid communication starts with you, and business owners who avoid regular contact with employees and lead through absent management techniques throttle all other efforts made to achieve those results. Maintaining regular contact, offering constructive feedback, and working alongside your team is essential to the overall success of your company. Above all, be honest (share good news and bad) and responsible (don’t spread blame but accept your own failures). Be genuine in your communications. Employees follow sincere individuals.
5. Accept feedback.
Improve overall internal communications with a simple implementation each month or quarter by using surveys. Surveys promote employee engagement and enhance employees’ desire to have their concerns or feedback heard.
Surveys don’t have to be complicated. Asking employees for their input concerning new processes, management behavior, and overall company involvement is key to finding flaws in your communication strategy. Take in all survey feedback and prioritize areas that need immediate resolution and reconstruction to iron out issues.
Improving internal communications within a company is a process that takes time and patience, and no one list of tips can provide all the necessary information for restructuring and implementing an internal communications strategy. Still, it’s an important endeavor. Take the time necessary to construct and continually improve upon your internal communication strategy.