Data sets have fueled companies in improving a number of operational areas. One of the largest advantages that companies have found analysis of data sets provide is improving internal communications. It is imperative readers understand the differences between internal and external communication which include:
This graph also emphasizes the commonality social media has between these two types of communications. While many people understand external communication is important, efficient internal communication in a company is also pivotal to a business’s ultimate success.
Internal communication is critical to a company’s success because this dialogue ensures all employees within a company understand what issues are important, which both creates a cohesive strategy for companies but also decreases the amount of confusion that might be experienced by employees. Companies also lose money when employees are confused or uncertain about how a company operates as suggested by a report conducted by the National Business Research Institute which found that $370 billion is lost by companies each year due to disengaged employees. To strengthen internal communication, there are three elements a company must focus on which include:
To create a strong internal communication policy, it is a wise idea for a company to utilize the best possible communications practices by focusing on how to best achieve each of these three elements. It is also important for companies to understand these internal communications policies must be implemented throughout the company rather than in one particular area.
To help companies take substantial steps towards improving their internal communication policy, this article will outline seven of the best ways a company can strengthen how it approaches internal communications.
Tip # 1 - Clearly Articulate The Company’s Business Goals
To strengthen a company’s internal communications, it is critical the company begins with a strong plan. This plan should incorporate both where the company is currently situated as well as the company’s goals for the future. Companies often also plan who the information about consumers will be shared with and how this information should be distributed. While situations might cause a company to need to change its business strategy at a later date, these plans can act as a blueprint as a company begins to start taking steps to improve internal communications.
This blueprint should incorporate both peer to peer and employee to employers communications. Strengthening these two relationships can be very beneficial to a company. Improving peer to peer communications increases a company’s sales while improving employee to employer communications helps strengthen how the company operates. While certain steps can be taken to strengthen only one of these elements, many companies benefit by improving both of these relationships. The graph below lists some of the critical steps a plan for improvement of internal communication should include:
During the creation of a blueprint these encompasses these points, it is important for a company to identify any potential bottlenecks, which includes any obstacles about which the company is currently aware. To determine what these obstacles are, many companies benefit from obtaining feedback from various departments about the challenges they encounter. The following chart outlines some of the most common obstacles faced by companies who try to improve internal communications.
This chart has the potential to be particularly helpful because sometimes, top management often has difficulty expressing what obstacles they face, which is often a sign that company executives are not clearly communicating what goals are most important. It is also important to remember if a task takes too long to accomplish, this is often a sign internal communications need to be improved.
Tip # 2 - Create an Adequate Budget
In addition to having a good blueprint, successful strengthening of a company’s internal communications policy requires proper finances. Companies should evaluate the advantage of having an adequate budget against the disadvantages that are likely to occur if the company fails to properly strengthen its internal communications. Any budget should include the cost of additional staff, customer service operations, marketing operations, and product development. Some companies also find it is necessary to invest in a new method to obtain feedback from employees.
Tip # 3 - Recognize A Company’s Available Assets
It is critical companies understand the various tools that can be utilized to gain an understanding about a business’s consumers. It is just as important for a company to understand the various tools that can be used to disperse these details throughout a company as well as to shareholders.
Companies who have an intranet are at a distinct advantage in these situations. Articles can be posted on the company’s website to help solidify what the company holds important. If the company has a forum on their website, this forum can be used as a place to see how employees identify with and respond to goals presented by the company. Other companies use anonymous surveys which are available through companies like Survey Monkey. Another large number of companies have discovered that videos are very effectively in increasing engagement in employees. Some of the reasons why videos create more engaged employees include:
Not every company has the staffing resources, however, necessary to create videos. Often, companies who lack an intranet have a much more challenging time determining implementation tools to strengthen internal communications. While company magazines and newsletters were once how companies shared this information, today many companies without an internal information policy digitize their newsletter or implement solidified social media practices to improve their internal communications. The chart below outlines the various channels in which companies communicate with their employees.
It is easy to assume that companies who have an intranet would use this technology to communicate with others, but this is not always true. Many companies with intranets discover their website has a very low use rate. These low rates are suggested by a survey conducted by Prescient Digital Media which found that only 13% of employees use their company’s intranet each day with 31% of individuals reporting they never use their company’s intranet. In response to the low intranet user rates, companies often decide to use applications that help distribute content and encourage sharing among users.
Tip #4 - Widely Distribute Data Gathered
Any strong effort to improve a company’s internal communications should revolve around a thorough analysis of data the company compiles about its users.
Marketing departments are able to use modern technology to discover a great deal of information about a product’s consumers. Once this data is gathered, however, it is important that this information is distributed much more extensively than just in the marketing department.
Companies should make this vital data available to all departments through the use of electronically shared files. Other companies choose to use customer engagement management software to make sure everyone in a company remains up to date with marketing reports.
After a business decides how to best distribute information from these reports, a key group of individuals in each department should then be tasked with making sure each department understands the key details that most affect each specific department. Lessons gleaned from this data can then be implemented throughout the department to best meet the needs of customers.
Tip # 5 - Measure The Results
Without a method to determine whether internal communications at a company improved, a company has no way of determining if any measures that are taken actually strengthened communication in the company. As a result, companies should quantify their efforts to strengthen internal communication so it can be determine how any efforts that are taken result in employees communicating better.
There are many modern analytics that can be used to assess these changes including changes in engagement levels between the before steps are taken and after the internal communications strengthening policy has been implemented. The results of these developments can then be shared with future employees.
Tip # 6 - Share Stories With Consumers
Companies should share stories of both failures and success with their employees because this greatly helps to align employers with employees in creating good customer services. Engaged employees are good for business as suggested in a study conducted by Dale Carnegie which found employees are motivated to outperform their competitors by as much as 202%. There are many traits that make engaged employees a valuable asset for a company but some of these characteristics include the following:
No matter how much an employee exemplifies these characteristics, not all strong employee performances are recognized. Success stories that might otherwise be lost in email messages or phone calls can prove to be motivational for employees. Additionally, sometimes employees help a consumer significantly but are not aware of exactly how much their efforts helped. These stories also help companies to build a very strong culture among employees. This presents employees and companies with a unique and great opportunity for growth. Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Work Workforce report even found that 70 percent of employees in the United States are not actively engaged in their positions.
Challenges and frustrations experienced by customers can also help to encourage companies to improve the experience for customers. Telling particularly stories about unhappy customers can serve to help employees better understand the correct way to handle problems. The stories can also help a company decide on a better ways to help a consumer who experiences a similar problem in the future.
It is important to note companies who apply this method should make sure to be honest about the details of stories that are shared.
Tip # 7 - Simply How The Company Operates
A large number of companies have flourished because they have focused only on the important things in the company’s operations. It is imperative a company avoid focusing on too many issues, which can prove overwhelming and often will not lead to strengthening of internal communication methods. The top management of a company should determine what changes would most likely improve internal communications at a company and then determine how these changes can best be implemented. It is very important, however, that neither employees nor employers think that there are too many initiatives involved. It is also important employees feel free to provide ideas and vice versa. Communications should flow freely among workers who are located on the following chart:
There are many employees at a company that might satisfy these positions but in an effort to simplify, companies should also avoid unnecessary emails and meetings. While many companies feel inclined to hold meetings, there are many new digitized tools t0 help companies to distribute information in a manner that does not interfere with an employee’s work schedule. Emails are similarly becoming outdated as a method to share important information. Instead, programs like Slack offer a better way to share up to the minute details and perspectives.
Another step companies should take to simplify is to remove these hierarchies, which are notorious for creating delays in how communication and information are shared. Instead, a large number of companies are beginning to implement a more team oriented atmosphere. Many companies find it difficult but ultimately much more rewarding to switch to a team oriented structure. The goal of simplifying company processes results in the following beneficial, cyclic chain for a company:
By simplifying, companies are ultimately able to reduce costs and expand. To achieve these goals of simplification, there are many tools including Google Documents allow one person to create information and then share this document in an interactive environment with others. Because these documents are updated in real-time, all involved parties at a company are frequently able to keep up-to-date with the most current developments in an issue.
Take Steps to Improve Internal Communications Today
Many companies can feel overwhelmed about how to begin to take steps to strengthen their internal communications. Some of the companies even include businesses that are aware their business needs strengthening in this area. It is important to remember any effort to improve internal communications should begin by analyzing a company’s strengths, weaknesses, assets in improving this area, and then proceed to the creation of a blueprint. Ultimately, improving internal communications not just helps a company reduce efficiencies, these efforts also help companies retain talent and better address consumers, which both greatly help increase a company’s sales.