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Effective Internal Communications Strategy

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EJ Phillips

Effective internal communications are foundational to any well-run organization.  Most companies understand that their external communications to clients and prospects needs to be strategic, but few take the same level of care when considering internal communications. However, this is an oversight.  Effective internal communications are not just about disseminating information from the top down so that employees know policies (thought it DOES include that), rather, good internal communications foster two-way communication where all parties are heard and valued.  In fact, employees who feel heard by their managers are 5 times more likely to be enthusiastic about their jobs and 21 times more loyal to their employers. Corporate culture can blossom and empower employees through internal communications, thereby creating brand ambassadors.

Download Crisis Communications eBookEffective internal communications are transparent.

Employees appreciate openness and honesty.  Cindy Farmer, Internal Communications Manager of MCH Concepts says, “By being transparent, employees will appreciate the openness and it gives them a more holistic view of the organization. By helping employees understand how the information being provided affects their jobs, trust in managements’ objectives is achieved. Lastly, companies that provide regular employee feedback and good internal communications experience higher productivity and profits.”

Effective internal communications improve the overall employee experience.

We all want to know that the work we do matters. Employees want to be informed and valued. An internal communications strategy that seeks to not only inform but engage employees bolsters its employees and promotes them to brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors are far more likely to take advantage of social media platforms to brag about themselves and their achievements at work, and this can be an effective marketing and recruiting tool.  We want to work with and for organizations that have happy employees.  It also helps with employee retention.

Effective internal communications keep employees in the loop.

Internal communications should keep all employees informed of company news, changes and future goals, upcoming events, and future initiatives.  80% of employees want their employer to keep them updated about company news—77% said it would help them at their job and 66% said it helps them build better relationships with their colleagues.

Effective internal communications are intentional and increase productivity.

Especially as we see a shift to working remotely, internal communications can make or break a team.  With everyone off in their own little bubble, working in their soft pants from their dining rooms, there is no more water cooler chatter where tips are shared off hand and collaboration naturally occurs in the break room.  When a team is spread out like this, internal communications are even more vital to keeping a project afloat. It is important to provide clear, consistent and frequent communications with your team members. By providing a method or platform for feedback, employees will feel empowered to not only offer suggestions but voice concerns without fear of retribution.  Two-way communication, along with an open-door policy and frequent check-ins, establishes an atmosphere of trust, employee appreciation and connectedness.

Tools such as Microsoft Office’s 365 can be game changers for organizations that utilize telework.  Products like One Drive and Share Point make documents easy to share.  Microsoft Teams makes it easy to chat both via text and video conferencing, enabling productive collaboration. Additionally, CRM’s such as ConnectWise and HubSpot also further promote effective internal communications.

Effective internal communications provide calm in a time of crisis.

Have we ever had a year in which the need for calm amidst of a storm was ever more necessary?  But somewhere between a global pandemic and meth-gators, we have all needed a voice that set the tone for clarity, vision, and peace of mind.  Your internal communications probably won’t be able to make sense of Tiger King, but an effective internal communications strategy does include making sure that employees know who to turn to in times of crisis.  Who do we contact if there is a power outage?  How will we know if we need a mask to go to work?  What do I do if the media contacts me about something someone said on social media?  Effective internal communications strategy makes sure that each and every employee knows they have support and from where that support is coming.

Many times a crisis entails delivering bad news.  In these instances, it is always best to remember that effective communication always prioritizes the needs the audience. To quote MPWRSource CGO, Tiffany Joy Greene (aka Manic Maple), “Effective internal communications is not about the business, but the people.”  We know of a large corporation that had to tell its employees that it was shutting down operations, but that this shutdown would happen slowly.  There were external communications to this announcement because this manufacturer was one of the largest employers in this small town.  But internally, the goal of the communication was to a) convey to the employees that their time at the corporation was valued and that their future success mattered to the corporation and community, and b) keep people motivated to produce quality products despite upcoming closures.  This company accomplished these goals by including all employees and listening to them in monthly town halls where each were given time to speak and ask questions.  When it was discovered that written communications weren’t really being received, the company stepped up its content game with videos that were both informative and humorous.  The company created a forum where the employees could direct things and communicate to corporate what it needed for a successful future.  By allowing employees to be contributing stakeholders, this kept what could have been a catastrophic crisis into a source of growth for all parties.  Internal communications gave people open channels of dialogue, so that they could grasp a small amount of control during the crisis.  Let’s face it.  We all want some control, even when most of the control is not in our hands.

Effective internal communications are always improving.

In the above example, when the communications team discovered that its emails weren’t hitting the mark with employees, they switched gears to town halls and videos.  The injected humor increased the authenticity and humanity.  After all, being authentic and human are always goals of any communications strategy.  Internal communications should be user friendly and consider the context in which employees are working.  What spheres are your employees already talking?  Are there community building activities you can do to bolster teamwork such as social events?

When internal communications are as intentional as external communications, it tells employees that they matter and ensures that all stakeholders are on the same page.  And when all can cohesively move as a unit, it makes for a more productive organization ready to pivot and grow as the market demands.  Internal communications drives trust and loyalty.  Who doesn’t want that?

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