The importance of communication in the success of any organization cannot be stressed enough, which is why businesses must work toward improving internal communication – dealing with staff and employees – and not just externally with its customers and clients.
Unfortunately, internal communication is often misunderstood. Many people think of it as understanding trends, demographics, media plans and matters that can help promote and sell products and services – these people can never be farther from the truth, because internal communication is about understanding the corporate culture and the internal processes of a business. Internal communication is about using this understanding to address issues and to enhance morale, compliance, productivity, training and other matters as such.
The Heart of Internal Communication
To achieve success in communicating internally, business leaders like you must get into the heart of internal communication. Improving internal communication means mastering its basics:
1. Determining a strategy. Of course, all organizations communicate with their respective staff; however, very few do so with a specific strategy in mind. Most businesses communicate routinely, by informing the staff about company policies, new product and service features and other pertinent information. While this approach is good, it lacks direction. For communication to succeed, it must not just inform; it must also promote and drive action.
2. Converting the strategy into a message. After deciding on a strategy, you should be able to communicate the strategy in a manner that everyone understands. This means that everyone in your organization knows and understands what your business goals are, and how they can contribute to the achievement of these goals. In order for everyone in the organization to accept the strategy, you must communicate and promote it properly.
3. Delivering the message in an organized way. Not communicating enough is a common issue among organizations, but so is over communication and the inability to coordinate your messages in a way that everyone will understand. Organizations that over communicate their messages end up with employees who are overwhelmed with a lot of information. And while it is good to give employees the information they need, the lack of coordination leaves them without direction. What use is information if the staff does not know what to do with it?
To remedy this, planning is needed. You must carefully lay out your plan for improving internal communication every year. This includes organizing your messages according to the organization’s priorities, and delivering these messages in a manner that both informs and drives action.
4. Measuring the results of your strategically crafted and organized message. Internal communicators must be able to come up with results that are measurable. If you do not have the tools to measure your outcomes, you would not be able to improve your communication strategy by fine-tuning it.
It should also be noted that measuring results can be difficult because there are no standard instruments for measuring these results. Each organization is unique, having its own distinctive culture, and its own set of strengths, weaknesses and challenges.
In order to measure and see your progress, you must establish metrics. These metrics must be built on a sound objective that is grounded on your communication strategy. They will help you see the results of everyone’s hard work and aid you in setting up benchmarks that will be a basis of future initiatives.
Of course, setting metrics is not enough. You must also be able to drive these metrics further. For example, you want to measure the effects of your recognition and rewards program in the productivity of your employees, so you establish measurements for doing this. If the results show that the program is working, you can drive higher productivity by improving your initiatives.