FOUR TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS

four tips for effective internal communications - FOUR TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS
By Malin H. Teles

It is a common belief among many communications professionals that the importance of internal communications in organisations is underestimated by high management. Although this might be true in some cases, generally speaking, internal communications is usually considered high priority among managers. However, the problem is many times that even though it is high priority, internal communications is often a misunderstood activity. Or, in other words, it is badly executed.

Poor internal communications can have severe negative impacts on an organisation and, hence, should never be neglected. For example, failing to communicate well with employees often result in employee discontent, lack of engagement and a high employee turnover. All which can be costly for the organisation.

To create a good foundation for your internal communications to build on, it is important to keep a few things in mind. Let’s have a closer look at them:

Internal Communications are not a separate activity but need to be integrated with everyday work.

Internal communications are very much a reflection of the company culture and also, an influencer on company culture. If you aspire to have a transparent and non-hierarchical organisation, the communications within that organisation need to favour this, and vice versa. In other words, you need to think of internal communications as an integral part of your job. This includes everything from internal emails, text messages, meetings, feedbacks, phone calls etc. The way this communication is conducted has to reflect the company culture you desire to create or maintain.

Create routines – who communicates what and when.

Regardless of what type of company culture the organisation has, it is necessary to have some form of routines for the internal communications. Team members, as well as managers, need to know where and how to find the information that they are looking for. And, perhaps more importantly, managers and team leaders need to know what, how and when they are supposed to communicate. Having this more or less predefined, facilitates for everyone and makes the information flow better. Moreover, it transmits a sense of stability and confidence within the organisation.

Be somewhat selective regarding what is communicated.

In an attempt to promote transparency, some companies make the mistake of communicating too much information to their employees. This can be a problem, not mainly because of the risk of communicating confidential information, but because of causing an overload of information. Before communicating something within the organisation, ask yourself the following question – Is this piece of information relevant to these people? Sometimes information might be relevant to all employees or all teams, but many times it is relevant only to a few teams or a few employees. If that is the case – share it only with those teams or individuals. This way you avoid bombarding people with irrelevant information and have a higher chance of getting noticed once you are sharing truly important information, as it won’t drown in irrelevant messages.

Communicate change on beforehand  and involve employees in the discussion.

Every organisation passes through times of change every once in a while. Even though changes are not always negative, people have a tendency to be reluctant to them, which makes it all the more important to plan well how the communication regarding them will be done. As a general rule, you can say that change should be communicated as early as possible. This way people affected by the change have a chance to get used to the idea before the change actually happens.
Also, another good way to diminish rejection or resistance to change is to involve those who will be affected in a discussion about the change at an early stage, before all decisions are already made. This gives people a sense of participation and a chance to be heard. Of course, some decisions are not negotiable, but, most changes contain parts that are. For example, it might be possible to adapt when or how a change is applied.

Following these recommendations, you have a solid basis to build your internal communications on. However, having an independent professional assess your communications routines can be helpful as you get an objective view of the situation and can get input on possible improvements.