Like any form of marketing, the quality of your internal comms says a great deal about your business. The only difference being that, instead of prospective customers and would-be clients, the target audience is your staff.
But you won them over the day they joined the company, right? Far from it. It requires work to keep them engaged but if they’re happy, your staff are the most valuable brand ambassadors you could ask for. There’s a strong case to be made for a workforce being a business’ most important and influential audience.
A poorly executed IC plan will present your business unfavourably
How you effectively reach that audience and show your business to be in tune with their needs is via a well thought out internal communications (IC) strategy. A poorly executed IC plan will present your business unfavourably to the very people whose word outsiders will take as gospel – in which case you can expect your brand reputation to take a big hit.
So how can you use your internal comms to improve your external rep?
Letting information simply trickle down from top management to front-line employees can cause all sorts of issues. Not only does it make distribution slow, but messages can also get distorted or misconstrued by the time they reach the end of the chain. The effect this can have is to make upper management appear disconnected with and disinterested in the staff working beneath them: not great for morale.
HR managers have managed adapt to the millennials’ need for constant connectivity by incorporating social media elements into their recruitment strategies.
Ask for feedback
The only way to measure how effectively your message is being received is by finding out first-hand how well it’s being understood. Open up a dialogue, get feedback and ensure you and your staff are singing from the same hymn sheet.
But before you get carried away with all the lovely singing, it’s important to recognise the distinction between informing and communicating. Remember, communication is a two-way street and your workers need to know their contribution is every bit as valuable as yours. If you achieve this, it’ll help foster a collaborative work environment and elevate employee satisfaction levels.
Say it twice, at least
It’s not often staff will complain about being overly informed
If working in marketing has taught me anything it’s that people talk guff – a lot of guff. So much so that when someone says something that isn’t completely without value it can catch you off guard. If you’ve got something that you feel your staff will genuinely want to hear, help them out by repeating it as often as you need to. It’s not often staff will complain about being overly informed, so don’t be shy.
It will help if you distribute your message across various channels. Consider including face-to-face meetings, video messages, telephone conferences, emails, your intranet and social media networks.
React to expectations
A recent and completely fictional study has claimed that millennials are physically and emotionally unable to go longer than 38 seconds without checking their Facebook or retweeting Beyoncé before drifting into a trance-like stupor. It’s shocking, I know. However this is the reality of the situation and so we’ll all need to adjust to it.
HR managers have managed adapt to the millennials’ need for constant connectivity by incorporating social media elements into their recruitment strategies. A similar approach should be utilised in regards to your internal comms.
Unless you run a bingo hall your future workforce will likely be comprised of these young iPhone addicts, so you’ll need to get ahead of the technological curve to ensure maximum engagement. That means updating your outmoded internal comms practices with automated cloud-based systems that reduce costs, increase productivity, produce more efficient communication, and make your business seem cool and sick and dope. Millennials love cool and sick and dope stuff.
It’s impossible to be an effective communicator without being a good listener. Managers and business owners should probably being listening more than speaking – not least because it will help you in the long run. Listening intently to your staff demonstrates how receptive you are to their suggestions on everything from everyday challenges to big-picture long-term issues.
This isn’t a skill you can blag either. If you don’t come across as genuine you’ll be spotted for someone only feigning interest because you read in a blog somewhere that you’re supposed to be seen as a good listener. Identifying someone who really doesn’t care isn’t difficult.
Make a plan
A sound internal comms strategy doesn’t just materialise out of nowhere. Seeing as it can have a huge impact on all areas of your business, put the time in to make an IC plan and don’t leave anything to chance.