November 4, 2014
Strong internal communication can increase employee trust, satisfaction, engagement and even production as team members become more informed, connected and involved within the workplace.
Used to instruct, motivate and connect, effective internal communication is crucial for encouraging team members while moving the business forward.
Of course, the way you organize your company’s internal communication practices and policies depends on your business, team and company structure, but here are 20 tips can use to improve internal communication.
Be open and transparent
Whether you’re a small or large organization, nothing is going to turn off employees more quickly than having management act secretive and closed off.
Being open and transparent with what’s going on in the company – at all levels – facilitates trust and communication while being closed off can spark internal suspicion and gossip as employees don’t know or understand the full picture.
Particularly in a start up setting where teams are small or quickly growing, being transparent with information is crucial for moving your business forward.
Talk to employees first
You want your employees to hear company news or developments first from management – not from outside sources.
Whether you’ve just confirmed an important new deal or there’s some sort of crisis, information and messaging should come first from within the organization so employees know the truth and their role in the situation.
Show employees you value them… and their voice
Highlight employee accomplishments, stand behind your staff and their decisions, really listen to what they have to say and encourage them to share their ideas, frustrations, needs and goals in an open and honest way.
Not only will you be helping foster a creative and supportive work environment but gaining a better understanding of your staff, what they believe and how they work best.
Go both ways
Internal communication shouldn’t just always be going from management to employees. The best leaders listen to their staff taking their ideas and suggestions into consideration.
While employees should be hearing about company objectives, strategy and goals from management, management should also be listening to employees to better understand how the company is working, and where it can be improved, on all levels.
Create a cohesive company culture
Company culture is more than just throwing in an office happy hour or having a foosball table, it also encompasses the way your team interacts and communicates with each other and your customers.
Depending on your work and size of company, different communication methods will work differently.
Try new things and see what fits best for your team to communicate effectively and efficiently without getting stuck in communication clutter.
While communication should be regular and consistent, it also shouldn’t be overwhelming or suffocating.
Share the information your team needs to know, then let them run with it checking in occasionally to see if they have questions and concerns.
Match the mode with the task
Everyone is drowning in email… so are email updates really the best way to share with your employees new company developments?
Decide which modes of communication you want your company to use for different tasks and messages that add to the conversation instead of muddying it.
Lead by example
People are more likely to follow an example than simply following directions that they don’t see being reinforced.
If you want your team to communicate honestly or face-to-face instead of hoarding information or sticking with email, you need to set the standard of behaviour.
Make sure employees understand what is expected of them and feel confident in their positions by simply asking them about how they’re doing and what they need to do their jobs better.
This sounds easy, but we so so many startups making this mistake.
Pick up the phone
We’ve all been stuck in email chains that go in circles. Break the cycle by picking up the phone and making a quick call.
Additionally, instead of adding to your team’s inboxes when you just have a simple question or comment, call instead for an immediate connection.
Don’t forget face to face
Though everyone is now used to communicating through text-based message systems, such as email or instant messaging, there is still plenty of room for error or misunderstanding without the vocal and facial context of speaking to someone face to face.
Not only is meeting face to face a better way to forge deeper connections with your team, but it also helps limit miscommunication or misconceptions. Particularly when you need to deliver a message than might be misconstrued, try speaking face to face instead.
Get to know your employees
Really making an effort to get to know your employees as individuals not only will help build internal relationships and trust, but also give you ideas on how to connect with your employees in relevant ways fostering mutual respect and understanding.
Reward and recognize employees in ways that are meaningful to them
People respond to encouragement and recognition in different ways.
While one person may enjoy and feel validated by being recognized in front of the whole team, another may prefer more direct, and less public, acknowledgement from their team leader.
By getting to know your employees on an individual level you’ll also be able to then reward and recognize them in ways that are meaningful to them furthering personal engagement and satisfaction.
If you implement regular company meetings or a no-talk policy during part of the day then stick to it.
Constantly changing policies or not holding up company procedures is distracting and sends mixed messages to your team. Again – lead by example.
Set timely and measurable goals
Be open about your company goals as well as goals for individuals and teams making sure goals are both timely and measurable.
Goals will help unite your team and make your business objectives or expectations crystal clear.
Organize time for employees to set their own goals or report back about their achievements on a regular basis.
Having employees become more publicly accountable for their work is another way to communicate company activity across the board while reinforcing engagement and productivity.
Show employees you care for them and the company’s business by actively requesting comments and feedback about all aspects of the organization. Chances are they’re aware of business glitches or successes that you’re not.
Inform employees about results
Your team deserves to know the results of their work – and the quicker the better.
By ensuring employees have a clear idea of their accomplishments and results you’ll help create a better internal understanding of the company’s direction and awareness for what teams are meeting goals or needing to still gain results.
Implement internal social networks
Use social media to your advantage by encouraging employees to connect through an internal social media system or through private groups on Facebook or LinkedIn.
When used correctly, these tools can create a sense of cohesiveness and camaraderie while allowing teams to connect on a different level.
Work on earning trust
As with your customers, your team needs to trust you. This takes time and effort on your part, but the importance (and benefits) of having a team that fully trusts you and is confident in your leadership is priceless.
By working to provide honest, open communication channels and making individual connections you’ll further build the trust and support of your valuable team.