Successful companies recognise that their employees are the ambassadors of the firm and their brands. Shareholders and other stakeholders are also vital cogs in the company wheel. Here are some ideas for improving internal communication.
Ten Things You Should Do
- Develop an open and transparent culture. Have a system of regular briefings and consultation to keep employees informed of market trends, trading performance, business developments, emerging issues and changes.
- Encourage and value feedback. This may include questions and suggestions that will be passed up the management chain for an assured response if they cannot be answered on the spot.
- Communication can embrace briefings, notice boards, internal e-mail, intranet, employee annual reports, newsletters, even corporate video and business TV. With employee permission, don’t overlook text message and mobile communications.
- Explain change. Where significant changes are under consideration, take time to explain the background and why this is important to the business and to those affected. The issues must be understood and ownership and responsibility shared.
- Engage and involve. Your employees are also consumers and often so are shareholders. Ask them what they think of your new products, advertising campaign and new corporate identity.
- Project and protect the brand. Corporate clothing is a good way to project the brand, but make sure this is of good quality and cleaned and replaced at regular intervals.
- Be consistent. Ensure that internal briefings and public communication are consistent. Mixed messages make all stakeholders nervous.
- Create role models. Acknowledge and reward the exceptional performer, winning teams and individuals who make worthwhile suggestions.
- Live the message. Ensure that planned programmes and agreed changes roll out to schedule and that everyone, even the chairman, participates.
- Train and train some more. Training builds skills and confidence, it can reinforce good practice. It is an investment that shows your employees they are valued.
Five Things You Should Not Do
- Don’t keep people in the dark. This will only allow rumour to spread and issues to become exaggerated.
- Don’t spin. People appreciate plain speaking and honesty. If there is a feeling that you are only telling part of the story, confidence will be undermined.
- Many companies have sales or service people in the field, branch operations and even part time workers who all need to be included in the communication loop.
- Don’t neglect feedback. This is often the most valuable part of the communication process – it shows concern, involvement and shared ownership of issues. It can often provide insights that are not available from management ivory towers.
- Don’t panic. Public speaking can unnerve some people. Develop a training programme if this is an issue.