It should be common sense how essential it is for you to improve internal communication in your organization.
According to this Towers Watson study, companies with highly effective communication practices enjoy 47% higher total returns to shareholders compared to organizations with poor communication.
Improved internal communication doesn't only affect your returns to shareholders, it can also increase employee engagement, build stronger teams, and enhance the competitiveness of your company. Effective internal communication practices help you increase productivity, build a better workplace, and reduce day-to-day conflict between team members.
So, there are plenty of reasons to deal with internal communications strategically. Unfortunately, companies rarely make it a priority.
Robert Sher, who gives excellent advice to CEOs in midsized businesses in addition to having extensive experience in improving internal communications, provides this case study. After several months, a software company created an IT development tool and forwarded it to the global development team. This caused resentment, which led to the rejection of using the tool. Within only a few months, the company had created a tool and shelved it. Without putting much effort into communicating with other departments, leaders made a rash decision in a vacuum.
Therefore, improving internal communications should be just as important as increasing sales. To give you some practical advice, we have summed up some of the lessons leaders tend to miss.
How to improve internal communications?
1. Encourage sharing, input and dialogue
Internal communication isn't a one-way street. Good communication flows both ways. As important as it is to give feedback to your employees, it's also crucial to teach your team members to give feedback. The key to this step is an open and trustworthy culture that encourages dialogue between teams and individuals. When your employees understand their role and expectations, they'll work for success.
2. Have managers lead by example
Would you encourage people to stay late at the office to work on a project and then leave sharply at 5? Would you talk openly about your company's financial difficulties and then buy yourself a brand new luxury car?
I hope you said no, because one of the best things you can do is to lead by example. If you want your employees to communicate well, make sure you do the same. If you expect your team to share information openly, make sure you do the same.
3. Get employee buy-in
Leading by example is a good start, but sometimes you'll need a little extra effort to get the employee buy-in. Each year, millions of dollars are wasted due to poor communications and easily solvable misunderstandings. This is a concerning reality for leaders, yet not particularly convincing for employees. In order to get employee buy-in, you need to show and actually provide value to them. As silly as it might sound, you need to excite them about why visibility and sharing information is important. You need to show the benefits they'll receive.
4. Make Objectives and goals public
On average, about half of companies fail to effectively communicate business strategies to employees in a way they could live it in their daily jobs. Its quite difficult to execute a strategy that you don't have a full picture of. To make your employees' work easier and more meaningful, it's good to publish company, team, and personal goals. Make them clear and visible to everyone. One great method that can help you is OKRs – Objectives and Key Results.
5. Use online tools instead of meetings
Office workers waste around 3.8 hours a week on unproductive meetings. With proper planning, you can make your team meetings more efficient, but sometimes it's just not worth the effort. There are better ways to communicate and collaborate. One option is to use online team updates and reporting tools. Improved collaboration through social technologies could raise the productivity of interaction by around 20%.
6. Establish regular processes
Communication should be a part of your daily or weekly routine, not just for an annual information blast. People want granular, real-time updates. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to make communication a weekly process with defined rules.
7. Train people in the language of sharing
The fact that you understand your thoughts doesn't automatically mean others will have the same understanding. Most people are trained at writing for themselves, sharing information from their perspectives and not for others. Nonetheless, writing in a way that is easy to understand is a learned skill. Having a coach can really help aid the process.
8. Use mobile tools
Most people are accustomed to consuming information on the go. Modern technology has spoiled us with the choice of getting the exact answer wherever we are. More and more employees are working from different parts of the globe and therefore need information on the fly. Provide tools for internal work-related sharing on phones and tablets. You can also try out Weekdone app.
9. Survey your employees
Run regular employee surveys to get answers to the most pressing issues at the time. Be aware of what your team feels and thinks and don't only concentrate on achievements and plans. Having good insight into what's discussed over a casual cup of coffee and around the lunch table can provide valuable learning points. This kind of information is something that could predict future success stories or miserable failures.
All of the previous steps are pointless if you don't know how to listen and take in the new information. Quite often, listening is more important than publishing information. It's not enough to ask for input, it is vital to be able to really wait for it and listen to it. In the end, we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we talk.
Try implementing one of these steps right away. Don't wait for another misunderstanding to emerge. Act now.