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Many businesses tend to focus on communications with customers, forgetting that the systems of communication within the company itself also need attention and continuous maintenance. With more employees working from home, digital communication tools are a critical component to keeping employees connected, but relying on these tools alone won’t help internal communication much.
It’s on leaders to devise a thorough internal communications strategy, and one added benefit is that it has the potential to drastically increase productivity and employee engagement. Leaders, however, must be careful to implement a communications system that will actually work well with their employees. To help, 12 Forbes Business Council members share recommendations for business leaders interested in improving their organization’s current internal communications strategy.
Members of Forbes Business Council share strategies for improving internal communications within an organization.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
1. Get Back To Your Values
All businesses coming out of Covid need to go back to the basics. What is your brand ethos? This also includes your mission and values. Ensure all of your communications align with your brand. Be intentional and deliberate with all activities and communications to ensure you are being authentic. Your employees chose to work for your company for a reason, so remind them why they made that decision. – Barry Fenton, Lanterra Developments
Listen first, last and always. Frame your internal communications based on employees’ top wants and needs. Since we live in an unprecedented time of change, it’s critical to constantly ask employees not only how they’re doing, but also how they are feeling. The latter will tell an empathetic CEO what they need to do to continually adjust and update internal communications. – Steven Cody, Peppercomm
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3. Prioritize Employees First
Prioritize your employees over all other audiences. When they are informed and engaged, they can help share the message with other audiences. Also, let your personality and personal style come through in these communications to employees. Gone are the days of having a stiffly worded memo to “All Personnel” or “To Whom It May Concern.” Those messages have low readership and little impact. – Martha Holler, ShinePR
4. Be Empathetic And Kind
It seems simple in response, yet few carry out showing empathy and kindness. By leading with this framework, it creates an open channel for team members to feel comfortable sharing ideas and communicating. They will begin to see the authenticity from leaders who live this out and it will drive communication in the right direction knowing that one may be heard from what is being shared. – Paul L. Gunn, KUOG Corporation
5. Be Transparent
Be more transparent. Share what you know, what you don’t know yet and what the issues or obstacles are that you are working through. When your organization appears authentic and is vulnerable about the things you still need to figure out, your employees trust you more than if you withhold information to avoid worrying them. Transparency is the No. 1 priority for trust in communications. – Jaime Taets, Keystone Group International
6. Keep The Lines Of Communication Open
Create face time (even if virtual) and make a habit of providing regular updates and holding company-wide town halls. Create a reliable cadence of communication, sharing openly and honestly. Remind your employees of your core values and make sure your messaging reflects those values. Encourage departments to participate in updates and rotate contributors to give everyone at all levels an active voice. – Clark Waterfall, BSG – Boston Search Group
7. Hold Weekly Forums
Hold weekly forums that allow employees to voice their opinions, which includes likes, dislikes and suggested improvements. This should not be a complaining session, but it should act as a safe place where nothing is off limits and management can learn how the company and business practices are being perceived. Constructive conversations that give employees a voice will always create a better culture. – Ralph DiBugnara, Home Qualified
8. Streamline The Number Of Communication Channels
Don’t overcomplicate things by adding too many programs to work within. Streamline communication by having one major communication platform and maybe one project management platform. I think people think programs streamline interactions when, in essence, there is something about keeping things simple. No one wants to input meaningless things into another program. We’re still human, so talk to one another. – Hoda Mahmoodzadegan, Molly’s Milk Truck
9. Take Individual Communication Preferences Into Consideration
Make communication as easy as possible for everyone involved. Is time lost just trying to schedule a meeting? Switch to a tool like Calendly where no messages need to be sent. Does one person abhor email or texting? Do they get video anxiety? Make sure they state their preference in their team messaging profile. Everyone communicates differently to produce their best work—make space for that. – Chris Gerlach, Synergy Life Science
10. Meet Regularly
I meet with my employees one-on-one or in small groups regularly. While it’s hard to scale, the importance of having more personal conversations with people throughout the company is the best way to increase engagement. Most people want to interact with management, so I recommend more personal communications. Take the time to talk with every person on your team at least once per week. – Kerry Siggins, StoneAge
11. Be Open About Mistakes
I think it is essential to address errors openly and to have a transparent, open error culture. Someone who does not dare to talk about mistakes is pushing a problem that can also affect the company. If it is clear that you can come to your supervisor at any time if you have screwed something up, this has an incredibly positive effect on the mood and cooperation. – Tim Maier, Brand Boosting GmbH
12. Build A Brand That Empowers Employees
Invest in building your corporate brand and your employees’ personal brands in harmony. Take concrete measures to enhance their visibility and empower them as your internal stakeholders. A culture that makes transparent communication a strategic priority and promotes thought leadership encourages employees to communicate with authenticity, thus making them the best narrators of your brand story. – Devapriya Khanna, 212° Brand Lab