Look at any successful business and you’ll find one thing in common—unmistakable clarity around what the organization exists to achieve. Whether it be providing the best service experience in the world, or eradicating poverty, high-achieving organizations are on the same page about their mission, from the front-line staff through to the CEO.
How? Open internal communication. It’s that simple.
When everyone knows what is expected of them, where they stand, and where they’re going—the results are incredible.
Beyond providing a clear, unifying purpose for all of your employees, strong internal communication provides a plethora of other business benefits. Here’s a quick look at a few:
Communication defeats crises. Things go wrong. Staff quit, machines break, customers leave. That’s OK—that’s just business sometimes. What’s not OK is failing to navigate these crises successfully due to a lack of internal communication. More often that not, when the heat gets put on, managers shrink into their shells and hide away trying to fix the problem. This is the last thing they should be doing! In times of crisis, communication is your best friend. Cast vision, draw your team’s attention towards the positives and the future, and alleviate the feelings of uncertainty. Do this through a robust internal communication system or social intranet, and regardless of how bad your organization’s crisis is, your team will rally around their shared purpose and overcome the issue at hand.
Gain ownership of your message. Today, information is incredibly free-flowing. Social media, digital news, not to mention good old word of mouth—all lubricate the movement of information, meaning that if something is happening in your organization, your staff will find out about it. The reason why having open, proactive internal communications is vital is because in doing so, you gain control of the narrative your people are buying in to. Rather than hearing through the grapevine or reading in the news, you can front-foot any issues and communicate them to your team first hand, in the manner you deem most appropriate. Words have power, and by communicating openly, you seize that power.
Eliminate rumors through transparency. In an age of ‘truthiness’, today’s generation is more skeptical than ever. The easiest way to combat this is through transparency. If managers are constantly communicating with their teams, and senior leadership is opening up about future plans and targets, then there’s little space for rumors or distortion of truth to exist. Such toxic behavior really only creeps in when it’s necessary—and it’s only necessary, when there’s a void to be filled. Ensure there’s no void by communicating openly and honestly, and your organization will be one built on truth and transparency, not undermined by toxic rumors.
Purpose equals engagement. As humans, we are born with an innate desire to know ‘why?’. Growing up and moving into business doesn’t change any of this—when staff are working on the front-lines in your organization, they still want to know why the organization exists, why they do what they do on a daily basis, and why certain decisions are made. This creates a double-edged sword—neglect to answer these questions, and risk creating a workforce detached from any sense of meaning, barely putting in the minimum effort required; communicate with your staff, give them an insight into your organization’s purpose, and you’ll reap the rewards of high employee engagement levels and discretionary effort.
Support your leaders. For those who have been in any form of leadership or management position, you’ll understand how frustrating it is to not have complete information. Your team come to you, asking more about the purpose behind the most recent wellness initiative; you want to support your business’s upper management, but this is the first time you’ve heard about the wellness initiative! Nothing undermines credibility for middle managers more than being kept out of the loop. On the other hand, having an entire organization’s leadership team, from supervisors through to executives, all reinforcing the same messages is immensely powerful. By sharpening up your internal communication and having a reliable system of passing information down hierarchies within your organization, you ensure that leaders feel more supported and engaged.
Create an enjoyable environment. There’s a waiting list of over 100 applicants interested in working for your organization, and no one has voluntarily left for over two years. For many businesses, this sounds like a dream come true—and it can be, if the right environment is created within your organization. A big contributing factor to such an environment is how comfortable staff feel interacting with leadership. Do they feel like the organization’s leadership team is aloof, holding them at arm’s length with a shroud of mystery, or do they know the leadership team on a personal level? The key to overcoming these barriers is communication—often something as simple as your CEO writing a personal address to the whole company on a weekly basis can go a long way.
Strengthen your brand. Building a strong brand for your organization starts internally, with communication. Ultimately, your frontline staff are the biggest brand ambassadors for your business, and they need to be treated that way. For them to provide the best customer experience possible, they themselves need to be fully engaged and on the same page with your brand. By communicating clearly and frequently internally, you ensure frontline staff are singing from the same song sheet when it comes to the brand of your organization. Internal communication can mean the difference between staff answering customers with one, coherent answer, or hundreds of conflicting answers.
The Need For A Central Communication Platform
Clearly, building an organization based on strong internal communication has massive advantages. However, this is often easier said than done. Between emails, memos, in-person drop bys, and random conversations between people, the likelihood of mixed messages, confusion, or missed information is high. The key is to base your internal communication strategy around one central platform, rather than dozens of disjointed strands.
We propose that that central platform should be a social intranet.
Think of an intranet as your office’s lunchroom, only with way more features. It’s a communal, informal place, easily accessible for everyone to visit and mingle with others around the company. You have the ability to communicate with the entire company at once, create private group pages, share celebrations, upload documents, share the company calendar and much more. Rather than spamming your team with emails every time you want to reinforce organizational purpose, you can simply fire an update into the company newsfeed highlighting a certain aspect of the company mission, or remind staff of the great intro documents already uploaded.
In an age where internal communication can be the difference between an organization being mediocre, or incredibly high performing, we can’t afford to leave it up to chance. Create a central platform for communication, treat it as vitally important, and you’ll reap the benefits. Sounding pretty great? Get in touch if you think so too.