Top Internal Communication Strategies to Improve Your Business
What Are Internal Communications?
Internal Communications is a system that is used to create and sustain multiple channels of communication by which management can reach out and engage with employees and where employees can give feedback to management. Included in internal communications are the ways in which a company uses this system to meet a specific goal.
The goal of internal communications is to create a positive employee experience.
An effective internal communication strategy has the following characteristics-
- Aligns employees with the company mission, vision, and strategy
- Provides multiple channels where employees can be supported and heard
- Leverages technology to enable and improve communication
- Teaches employees how to communicate
Let's take a closer look at these characteristics-
Aligns employees with the company mission, vision, and strategy
Do all your employees know what your business model is? And within that business model do they know what specific products or services you wish to focus on to distinguish your restaurant, store, or business from the competition?
Are employees aware of what company business leaders envision the business as becoming three, five or ten years down the line? Or were they simply hired and told to do their job with no orientation whatsoever?
Internal communications drive home the point that every single employee, no matter the role, is an integral part of the business and must be aware of the business strategy and how their specific role serves that strategy.
Provides multiple channels where employees can be supported and heard
Departing from the traditional top-down hierarchical business communication model where management tells employees what to do and employees keep their opinions to themselves, a modern internal communication system is a two-way street. Superiors communicate to their subordinates as usual but subordinates are also given multiple channels to give feedback without the fear of reprisals.
More than that, the internal communication system must make employees feel that not only are they encouraged to speak up but what they say is given value.
Underlying this is the concept of transparency, which is a quality that becomes part of the culture of companies that have an effective internal communication system.
Leverages technology to enable and improve communication
An effective communications system takes advantage of the latest technologies to increase the number of communications channels available to employees.
As remote or work-from-home arrangements become increasingly common, mobile, chat, email, remote meeting applications and other technologies should become part of the corporate tool chest to ensure that everybody is on the same page even though they are not in the same building.
Teaches employees how to communicate
Members of a retail establishment or restaurant chain or any other kind of business may talk to each other on a daily basis but that doesn't mean they are communicating.
Effective communication is about four things- when you should say something, how you should say it, what you should say, and, most importantly, listening and taking action. Each company must define acceptable and non-acceptable ways of communicating and disseminate this to employees.
A communication strategy recognizes that internal communication is a science and an art that can and should be taught to all members of an organization.
Not only should managers know how to talk with subordinates but the rank-and-file should also be guided on how to give feedback to their managers.
Best Internal Communications Strategies
Now that we have looked at the merits and characteristics of effective internal communications, let's look at some of the best internal communications strategies.
Segment Your Employees
Segment your employees like you segment your customers. You don't want to give the same message to all employees all the time.
Happy Holidays' is a message that you can and should give to all employees during particular occasions but not everybody would be interested in the upcoming sales seminar and not all employees are eligible to be part of your internal brand ambassador group.
Leverage communications channels so that you can get to know employees well enough to group them together. Then apply marketing techniques internally to find out the different employee segments you have in your company.
Once you've done that, you can tailor your message to each group.
Use the Company Email Effectively
Email is the most common digital communication technology.
One of the most common ways companies use email is by sending employees company newsletters, which, incidentally, are perhaps the oldest internal communication tools for companies.
What if an employee receives a company-sponsored email once a day? After several months the company emails would most likely be ignored, rendering email useless for internal communications.
An email should be used in tandem with employee segmentation efforts in order to know what communication to send to a specific employee group.
Aside from that, avoid flooding employees with emails. The idea is to create an internal culture where emails from management are events that are relevant and significant and seldom if ever, ignored.
Leverage Collaborative Technologies
Collaborative technologies come in suites that include email applications, chat capabilities, meeting applications, and other collaborative productivity tools.
For example, word processors and spreadsheets allow groups to work on one file at the same time. Chat applications allow the creation of groups with specific internal goals or skills. Meeting applications allow remote workers to have real-time communications.
Collaborative technologies increase the number of communication channels that a company can use to communicate with their employees. It also enables more opportunities for employee feedback. Chat logs, emails, and meeting groups are a great way for companies to have more knowledge of their employees.
These technologies are always improving with the rise of telecommuting. Be sure you look into the latest trends and technologies with an eye to enabling faster and better internal dialogue among each member of your organization.
Measure the Success of Your Internal Communication Strategy
Some of the criteria that you should measure with regards to your internal communication strategy are adoption, engagement, and content consumption.
Are your communications from the latest town hall meeting being understood and appreciated? Are your efforts to ask for employee feedback appreciated? Is that email you sent to your target internal group getting the response you want?
An effective internal communication system should not only have specific strategies but each strategy should have measurable targets.
Based on the results, the strategy can be adjusted and the system improved overtime.
Does internal communication focus on addressing employee dissatisfaction with the lack of job mobility resulting in greater awareness of what positions are available and how internal employees can apply for them? Did the newly established monthly meetings to gather employee inputs result in a lower attrition rate? A follow up must be done and quantitative measurements must be taken.
What works for your other business process should be applied to internal communications as well- plan, measure, adjust, and improve.
All the strategies discussed above work synergistically with each other in order to form a system of communication integrated into your company culture that will benefit your business.
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- An internal communication strategy is a system of functions and processes that focuses on creating a quality employee experience.
- Effective internal communications align employees with the company strategy and make employees aware of the role that their specific job has within that strategy.
- Internal communications should allow employees to communicate their opinions and know that their input matters.
- Internal communications should keep remote or work from home employees informed and should make them feel part of the company even if they are not in the same building.
- Teaching employees how to communicate should be a part of an internal communication strategy.
- Just as you use marketing to segment your customers you should also use marketing techniques to segment your employees in order to be able to effectively communicate with them.
- Creating focused email content for your employees and avoiding flooding them with constant emails keeps the corporate email relevant as a communication channel to your employees.
- An internal communication strategy should incorporate the latest collaboration technologies in order to increase the number of communications channels and create an environment where companies can know more about their employees.
- Internal communication activities should incorporate measurable results so that the strategy can be improved over time.
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