How to achieve good internal communication in the organization? Communications specialist Dustin York explains what effective internal communications look like in new conditions.
In the last two years, we have seen many articles in the spirit of “Internal communications are now more important than anything else”, “Boss is obliged to communicate with his colleagues more than ever”.
These statements are true, but like many others, have you ever wondered, “Yes, but what exactly does that mean?” What exactly does increased communication look like? How do we achieve this? These are important issues because many people have had the misfortune to feel pressured or coerced into seemingly communicative activities, which they feel are counterproductive, burdened with stress, and a complete waste of time. It is not enough to just repeat the mantra “more communication, more communication”.
Rather, it shows that your organization uses practices that employees don’t like and even hate passionately (for example, “Happy Zoom Hours”). Two years later, it shouldn’t be the same in the wanderings on this topic. So, for the sake of clarity, let’s try to explain what “more communication” ultimately means and how to achieve it.
Greater transparency is needed
The first thing to keep in mind is that some methods so far have been ineffective and co-workers no longer want pointless communication. It must be aimed at a specific goal, and that goal is transparency. For transparency to become the leitmotif of communication, we need to realize that we will never go back to the way workplace management and communication processes were structured before the pandemic.
What exactly do contributors want transparency for? Because of everything that affects them. For example, where will they work, what will they work on, etc. Even if there is no clear decision on these issues, be honest about what stages you are in the discussion process.
For example, when the news about the Omicron strain first appeared, you can be sure that your employees were worried about what would happen next.
Many of them have just returned to the office with relief and do not know whether they will not have to switch from home mode again. Uncertainty is alarming, and even if you don’t know the answers to these problems, keep your co-workers informed. This in itself gives hope.
Of course, such openness requires a lot of information, as the company’s policies and requirements need to change several times in response to what is happening. A large amount of information needs frequent and constant communication and it is good that this is what most employees want.
According to one study, 90% of employees want their company’s management to communicate with them at least once a week. Such frequent internal communication maintains the motivation of employees, and their commitment to the goals and objectives of the company, and helps to keep them in this job.
Three keys to good internal communication
In transparent internal communication we must remember the three key points – it must be asynchronous, planned, and multimodal.
Synchronous communication can cause employees to lose their most productive hours participating in Zoom meetings. This often provokes dissatisfied comments from them / “we could have done this by e-mail” /. And this is not because they do not want to know the content of the message, but because they want to be able to receive it following their rhythm. So make this communication asynchronous.
Although frequent communication should be asynchronous, this does not mean that it should be random at all times. It must be planned and stable. Many external communication companies have a list of posts on social networks, but no one for internal communication. And it doesn’t take much. Your internal communication team needs to plan and develop a strategy in advance and determine exactly what the current communication should be every week or every day.
The other problem with synchronous communication is that, as a rule, it is limited to one format, but employees have their preferences on how they are most comfortable perceiving information. For some, it may be video, for others a sound recording or a corporate podcast, and for others, it may be an email. Therefore, make sure that the communication is not only asynchronous and planned, but also that the same information is provided simultaneously in different formats.
The good news is that the same piece of content is usually easily adapted to different formats. For example, you can remove the video and leave only the soundtrack, and then, listen to the recording and use it as an e-mail or corporate blog message.
Employees need feedback
Let’s seize the moment and talk about what employees need strongly and often – feedback.
Like transparency, feedback has always been an important part of internal communication, but now it is needed much more often. People have a natural desire to know how their affairs will be arranged, whether what they do meets the company’s expectations and whether they are on the right track to achieve their goals. If the path is wrong, they want to know how to change that quickly. And once again – frequent and effective feedback increases motivation and helps reduce turnover among employees.
There is no better example in this regard is the design of video games. Why are these games so exciting and exciting? In his book, Reality in Question, author and game designer Jane McTonigal, substantiates brain research. He explains that this is due to constant feedback. Games use it to tell players how they are moving towards their game goals, give them a sense of satisfaction and progress, and practical information on what needs to be improved.
Moreover, this is done in real-time using many feedback mechanisms – points, levels, relevant sensor signals, unlocking results, and more. As can be seen, some of the elements related to transparency can be applied here as well. Feedback should be frequent, regularly planned, and ideally multimodal, ie using the various means of communication mentioned above. In other words, give up boring annual performance analyzes or, ultimately, do not limit yourself to the feedback.
There is no doubt that all these additional communications require a significant amount of work and investment. But it is much worse when the necessary work and investment become a bad consequence of ignoring these needs. Insufficient communication is by no means the only reason for leaving employees, but it is one of the main ones. Employees will have to adapt and develop in many aspects, which is likely to become an ongoing process. It will be fair if the company and its executives do the same. Now you know what “more communication” is. It’s time to achieve it.