Somebody once said, “companies don’t succeed, people do”. Yet for many companies, the most overlooked communication is with the people who actually work for them. Therefore, it is crucial that companies concentrate not only on their external image but also on their internal customers – their staff.
The behaviour of employees can make or break a company image, yet often they are the last to know about the company’s objectives. It is important that these people know and are working towards the same ends.
Internal communications should promote a culture of honesty, openness and trust within the organisation. Communication should be consistent, believable, motivational and help to reinforce both corporate and local messages.
What happens if you don’t communicate?
People don’t work well when they feel subjected to business strategy rather than contributing to it, or when they feel overlooked and underrated. Companies that have got it right have an informed and aware workforce of motivated, hard-working people. This can have a positive impact on your business image and profit levels.
How can I make sure everybody is informed?
Managers need to understand their responsibility in communicating continually and effectively with all their staff. Your company should already have a meeting structure in place to enable information to be passed down from senior managers to staff, whether it’s a quick update on site or the monthly board meeting.
For many companies, the most overlooked communication is with the people they actually employ
- Internal bulletin or in-house newsletter Most organisations, whatever their size, will produce some sort of newsletter. It could be something as basic as a weekly photocopied memo or a full-scale, full-colour magazine. Some newsletters provide a column through which staff are allowed to voice opinions – this can allow those who would not usually be heard to have their say before a wide audience. Other publications will include the annual report and press cuttings.
- Electronic communications E-mail is fast becoming the number one way for colleagues in different buildings, towns and countries to communicate. Intranets are also taking business by storm. These are internal web sites that offer employees access to a wide range of company information at the click of a mouse.
- Team briefings Briefings are shorter than a bulletin. They can be used to address a particular issue or project. This means discussions taken at management level will be cascaded down so that everyone can be made aware of them. An effective core brief will also allow for staff feedback.
- Roadshows Out of all the various forms of communication, face-to-face works best. It gives the audience the chance to ask questions and participate in a debate, and reduces the opportunity for messages to be misconstrued. Also, for those who do not work with senior management on a day-to-day basis, a roadshow that brings the director into contact with members of staff can be enlightening for both. These gatherings can help break down barriers between management and staff.
Roadshows can be used where there is a particular key issue you want to communicate. You might consider one at the start of an internal recruitment drive to enable you to gather feedback from employees at different levels in different locations.
- Social events Another way of improving internal communications is through social events. We are all much more likely to talk to someone who is not a stranger.