Enterprises spend millions on external branding, messaging and websites while neglecting their most important audiences–their own employees.
Effective internal communication helps foster a positive work environment. It enhances collaboration and ensures that everyone has a shared understanding of the organization’s purpose, goals, and values. And when it’s not done well or absent altogether, people feel disconnected, disrespected, and undervalued. The entire organization suffers.
Internal communication is undervalued, even though its need has never been greater, as more and more workplaces adopt hybrid models where many are working remotely. And as organizations grow and teams are located elsewhere – even in another city or country — having strong processes and systems to relay information, receive feedback and engage employees becomes more challenging. But this most essential of communications activities can be done well.
Here are a few tips for creating an effective internal communications program:
1. Make sure messages are clear and consistent.
As in any communication effort, messages that are clear, concise and easily understandable by all employees are the first step. Every time you reach out to your teams, ask yourself why you are communicating and what you hope the result will be. Are you informing or asking for action? Do you want feedback? How does this information or message make life better for your teams? Conversely, how might it have a negative impact? Avoid jargon and technical language. Keep it simple and get to the point.
2. Be transparent and honest always.
Open communication – sharing both negative and positive news helps establish a culture of trust. Never lie to employees. If you can’t share information, explain why. It is just as important to convey bad news as it is to bring good news. And don’t forget to acknowledge your team’s wins and celebrate employee accomplishments and milestones.
3. Create an internal communication plan.
Establish a regular cadence of communication. Make a calendar for both written communication and gatherings like town halls, all-hands meetings, and regular team meetings. A consistent pattern of communication sets expectations for employees. Regular meetings also provide opportunities for employees to ask questions, give feedback, and make important contributions to improvements and excellence.
4. Map the information flow.
Information travels in many ways throughout organizations – through official channels and the unofficial grapevine. Understand who in your organization is a trusted and reliable source and consider ways to include them in more discussions, to harness their influence as you share information.
5. Establish communications policies and procedures.
Develop internal communications policies with established guidelines and expectations for all employees. These policies should cover response times, urgent messages, and appropriate language and behavior.
6. Harness multiple channels.
Use a mix of channels for communicating to respect different preferences and needs. With so many channels to keep track of — email, text, calls, instant messaging, videos, internal social media platforms, in-person and virtual meetings, newsletters, and more – employees can feel overwhelmed. Establish norms for how these channels should be used.
7. Tailor your communications.
Make sure your messages are relevant to the audiences that are receiving them. Identify ways to segment your internal audiences so you can customize communication to specific groups or individuals.
8. Respect time zones.
If your enterprise operates on a national or global level, be mindful of time zones and work schedules when organizing meetings or setting deadlines.
9. Make your communication interesting and compelling.
Engage with content. Use visuals. videos. and other multimedia elements to make communications more engaging. Using visual elements allows you to connect with people who consume information best in diverse ways. Identify the different information styles that resonate with your individual employees and teams. Avoid dull language. If communications vehicles are boring, no one reads them and they become a waste of time.
10. Encourage managers and team leaders to be internal communications ambassadors.
Too often information doesn’t flow freely within organizations. Leadership is a crucial fulcrum for your internal communications ecosystem. Empower all managers and train them on how best to communicate with their teams, share information from the C-suite and key research sources to facilitate healthy and open dialogue.
11. Evaluate communication effectiveness.
Develop systems to measure and analyze your internal communications. Surveys, focus groups and analysis of usage, email open rates, etc., can provide useful insights into what’s working. Be prepared to act on those insights and change things up to make your messages count.
For business and organizational success, great communication begins at home. Reach out to the Wainger Group today to help elevate your internal communication strategies and align your organization for success.