An Open Line: Making Your Internal Communications Smarter
Communication is key to any business’s success. It’s not only important for customer and client relations, but for your internal team of managers and employees as well. At the end of the day, a business is just a group of people working together to achieve a common goal, and keeping the lines of communication open ensures everyone from your CFO to your newest hire is pulling in the same direction. This isn’t always easy to achieve, but clear objectives, a sensible plan and the right tools your business can vastly improve its internal communication practices. Here are four strategies you can implement to get your team talking.
Take Stock of Your Organization’s Need
A business with just a handful of employees in a single office has vastly different internal communication demands than a large, multi-office organization with employees working remotely across the globe. Take the time to look realistically at your business to determine what communication tools and strategies best suit your needs. For example, a small business with overall good communication may find value in an employee intranet, where meeting minutes, employee agreements and office announcements are readily available. Let your employees take some ownership of your internal communication strategy. Use a survey to gauge their satisfaction with the current system while offering them an opportunity to tell you how it might be improved.
Have Slow and Steady Implementation
When trying to improve your company’s internal communication, there is the temptation to try and overhaul the entire system all at once. This approach is more than likely to backfire, though. For starters, sincere communication is a hard thing to force onto people, and a sudden influx of new internal communication policies could be met with confusion and resistance. Once you’ve developed a clear strategy for improving internal communication, create a realistic timetable for implementing it. Start by making a small change, such as a weekly employee memo or an impromptu status meeting, to gauge everyone’s receptiveness. If you take the patient approach and focus on the long game, you’ll ultimately be surprised by how much your office’s internal communication improves without anyone noticing (except you).
Implement the Right Technologies
Internal communication should involve face-to-face interaction whenever possible. However, you should never hesitate to supplement in-person interactions with applications and tools that keep the lines open at all times. More and more, businesses are turning to mobile technology to keep their team connected. By providing everyone with a work-driven, reliable smartphone like the HTC One M9, you open your team up to a whole world of internal communication applications. Apps like Slack and Hipchat allow employees to share documents and ideas through an intuitive chat platform that automatically saves conversations for later viewing. If you’re looking for a way to increase collaboration, look no further than Basecamp, which lets you assign small teams to a specific task and provides a running history of their progress. Big or small, every business is likely to benefit from even a slight injection of tech into their existing model.
Lead by Example
Whether you’re implementing a new collaborative application or simply promoting good communication practices, it’s important that you take a top-down approach to improving your organization’s internal communication. Your employees will look to you (and your management team) to set the bar. Most importantly, always be available, either in person, through e-mail or by phone. If it takes you several days to respond to a message that was clearly marked “Urgent”, your team will suspect that communication is not a priority within the organization. And when you implement a new policy, take the time to teach it. If you decide to use Slack, for example, schedule a remote meeting so everyone can see how its features work and its benefits. You’ve created a new door that leads to better internal communication. Now show everyone how to walk through it.