Did you know that in 2001, Ford Motor Company and Firestone (now Bridgestone Americas) lost billions of dollars after an alarming trend in tire failures due to an incompatible vehicle and tire design found in Ford trucks and SUVs? Or that companies like Apple, Airbnb, and Twitter have taken massive hits over the years as a result of dysfunction within their ranks?
What do these debacles typically have in common? An inadequate internal communications strategy.
Why internal communications matter
Internal communications are the lifeblood of an organization. And without effective communications among participants within a company dialogue is hampered while employees become less connected and informed without a shared understanding of company goals, values, and guidelines.
Internal communications promote effective communications among all stakeholders. It helps to produce and deliver the right message to the right people clearly, allowing people to take specific actions that benefit them individually and collectively.
While typically the responsibility of HR and the C-suite, internal communications is an area that every leader within an organization must prioritize. Internal communications:
- keeps employees informed so they understand the larger context for what they’re doing and why they’re asked to do it.
- helps establish organizational culture and creates a sense of clarity that enables people to feel like they’re a valued part of the team.
- drives engagement by maintaining a two-way conversation, rather than delivering a quick message and hanging up.
- encourages calm discorse in times of disaster, crisis, or uncertainty.
These are common benefits, while each organization is unique and will have its own set of goals. Gaining clarity on the why of communication makes it easier to take the actions needed to succeed.
3 ways to optimize your internal communications strategy
Here’s a look at specific steps you can take to optimize and improve communications.
1. Centralize information
Technology sprawl, or the overlapping abundance of technology in which only 20-30% of a product’s functionality is being used, is a real concern for businesses. As your company adds new software, apps, tools, and devices, it becomes harder to stay organized and productive. This impacts communication efforts and creates additional challenges that must be overcome.
You can combat tech sprawl by centralizing information and eliminating redundancies. One effective way to centralize information is to create a unified digital workplace by deploying an intranet solution that acts as an employee communications platform. Some solution providers double as enterprise social networks and collaboration platforms, meaning they organize information and simultaneously encourage engagement.
2. Rethink email
If you need to ask a question, assign a task, or follow up on something, your first inclination is to fire off an email. But is this the most efficient method of internal communication?
Email overload is mentally exhausting. The average employee receives 122 emails per day, of which only 38 percent are important. Email communication has a purpose, but it’s not ideal for internal communication, particularly when an action item is important or urgent. Email can be used for external communication, but it’s not always helpful for real-time conversions within a company. An intranet or chat application is much more efficient.
3. Identify and analyze KPIs
It’s easy to assume your internal communications strategy is healthy and working when it’s floundering. The only way to truly know is to identify and analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) over some time.
As author Seth Godin says, “What you measure usually gets paid attention to, and what you pay attention to, usually gets better.”
Not sure what to measure? Start with employee engagement rates, message open/read rates, adoption rates for new tools, responses and feedback, employee turnover, and individual/departmental contributions to organizational goals.
Rethink internal business communications
A precise and comprehensive internal communications strategy can single-handedly catalyze your organization’s success. As you look for ways to grow, make sure to prioritize how you communicate and iterate your approach over time. Goals, personalities, and best practices will naturally evolve. The organizations that are malleable are the ones that tend to succeed over the long run.
Craig Lebrau is the CMO of Media Insider, a Wyoming-based PR company that aims to disrupt the way companies communicate their brand in the digital era.
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