Good internal communication is essential to the effective working of a team and the success of an organisation overall. Poor communication, conversely, leads to demotivated teams, errors and missed opportunities and even serious operational problems and PR mistakes. The topic is so timely that most large corporates will have large communciations teams in place. Often, there will be more than one to handle the external communications and PR activity for external audiences and a separate internal communications and engagement team to focus on internal messaging.
Communication is one of the most basic tools we have at our disposal. So what are the problems and difficulties that organisations are having in embedding it effectively and what, as managers, are the basic tips we can follow to get it right?
Communications – a user’s guide
Firstly, be clear and concise when you do communicate. Avoid jargon and use simple language that everyone will understand. Secondly, ensure that the tone of communication is set at the top of the company. Senior managers and leaders need to be accessible and visible and understand the clear link between achievement of company objectives and staff communication. Their efforts and abilities with communication will set the tone throughout the company. As with so many things in business, it’s important to lead from the top and develop a culture whereby open communication on a two way basis is both fostered and actively developed to be better, more frequent and more effective.
It’s also vital to understand the employees within your organisation. Different people and groups will need different messages. So accountants for engineers may not need the same update about sales targets as the permanent frontline staff, for example. Think of channels too. Staff who don’t use computers won’t be able to access emails. Face to face briefings and group ‘cascades’ are immediate, personable and effective. Letters or written documents are useful for processes or important legislative updates, which can be attached to summary communications as a reference.
Context and background
It’s important to explain what you’re communicating and give context and the personal touch to your messages. Essentially, individuals just want to know what it means for them. Think about timeliness of messaging too. Giving a corporate communication after your teams have read a news item in the press simply reduces the impact and trust of your message. It’s also vital to continuously and regularly communicate with both good news and bad news. Sharing negative messages shows that you’re candid and credible.
Other essential elements of communication are the measurement of their effectiveness and the emphasis on prioritising face-to-face updates with individuals over written and electronic communications. These have their place, but nothing beats a conversation or verbal update with the right person. Measurement is also key in checking that your communication work is effective and working. You can do this via survey methods or other analytic type data. Staff surveys are a useful tool to ascertain how, when, where and in what format communication is happening throughout the organisation.
Finally, put checks and safeguards in place to make sure that communication is happening at all levels. As soon as those checks stop, it’s all too easy for the channels and updates to dry up and the good work will be lost.
This post was written on behalf of http://www.brookson.co.uk/services/sole-trader/