Internal communication is to an organization what sandwiches are to Joey Tribbiani — absolutely essential! While utmost importance is given to smooth communication between a business and its clients, equal weightage must be given to communication within the organization as well. Clear, concise, and quick delivery of messages to the intended audience is the backbone of any successful organization, big or small. For example, a company implements a new leave policy, but fails to communicate the same clearly to its employees, can you imagine the chaos? A solid internal communication strategy is crucial in preventing such misunderstandings. It also makes sure that:
Every organization has different departments that take care of various aspects of their work. However, they are all part of a cohesive whole, working towards the organization’s objectives. For this to translate, the role of each department must be clarified. Once their duties have been communicated to them internally, each department realizes it’s role in the cohesive whole. Activities like forming a book club allow all employees to express themselves creatively, making it a fun team-building exercise.
Picture this: you just got a new job. You’re excited about what you can learn and achieve. You start working, only to realize you don’t know what exactly you’re supposed to be doing. No one’s guiding you or holding you accountable for your work. You’re bound to feel low, right? You’ll feel like no one gives your role importance — instantly, your morale plummets. Efficient internal communication prevents just this — it makes sure your employees know what they’re doing, and how they’re contributing, which in turn keeps their spirits high and increases productivity.
How many times have you called a help desk, only to find that the executive on the line doesn’t have the answer to your query? Too many times to count, surely. Clear communication that reaches all levels of an organization ensures that everyone — from the CEO to the customer service executive — can answer every query, no matter how small. Thus, efficient internal communication equals happy, loyal customers and clients!
Having an effective internal communications strategy can make or break your organization. But, planning this strategy can be a challenge — which is why we bring you six simple steps you can follow:
Do you find that often some of your employees are unaware of policy changes or directives? This could be something as basic as toilet etiquette or a change in appraisal policies. If yes, then you’re doing something wrong. Ask yourself: what are you saying, and to whom? Are you implementing a top-down strategy? This could turn the delivery of messages into a game of Chinese Whispers — perhaps it’s time to change. How you’re delivering the message is important. Are your messages full of jargons, or words not everyone would be able to understand? Take an objective, hard look at your strategy, and work from there.
Set Goals. While planning a strategy, ask yourself: why am I doing this? What should this strategy achieve? Are you only looking to fix existing issues or does your communication strategy have a larger goal? Are you looking to increase productivity? Raise employee morale? Answer these questions and you’re well on your way to building a strategy that others would want to follow. Ensure your goals are measurable and attainable, then move on to the next step.
Not every message needs to go to every department in the organization. For example, changes in hiring policy can only be communicated to the senior management. However, changes in HR policies or the creation of a sexual harassment committee must be communicated to all the employees. So, figure out what you need to say and to whom. For messages that need to be disseminated organization-wide, make sure it’s made understandable to each employee, from top to bottom.
Following from this, determine your best channel
Don’t assume every employee has access to, say, email, at all times. Take for example an NGO engaged in fieldwork. If there’s an urgent message that needs to go out to the field workers, how would you do it? Shooting an email or a Facebook message is probably not an option. Plan ahead for such possibilities. Identify what works best for your organization. If it’s an organization with several hundred employees, common platforms like Yammer or Hipchat might be best. For small organizations with say 50 or less employees, emails and WhatsApp may be the most convenient option. Understand the scale and functions of your workplace, and then decide on the communication channels accordingly.
You’ve identified problems, your audience, and your preferred channels. Now, to the most obvious — don’t complicate things. You’re not writing a literature assignment that requires flowery language, so use simple words, ensure your spellings are correct, and keep your messages short. No one has time to read an email that goes on and on for pages, or even paragraphs. Steer clear of language that is overly casual or extremely complex — it’s about striking that fine balance. Hold workshops and short trainings on effective communication, and it’ll be worth it in the long run.
You now have a new plan in place, but the work doesn’t stop here. You need to make sure your plan is compatible with the changing needs of your organization. Create an assessment outline. Every year, year and a half, revisit your communication strategy, base your assessment on predefined metrics. Has your organization expanded greatly over a couple of years? Have departments been added or eliminated? Might be time to rework your internal communication plan accordingly.
According to research conducted by Mckinsey Global Institute, productivity increases by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees. So there you have it — internal communication is like the proverbial apple a day. It’s good for your organization’s overall health! Happy employees equal happy clients — invest in an effective internal communication strategy today. Your employees will thank you for it.