Internal communication is at the very heart of making sure your company is running smoothly. Not just within each department, but between departments, leadership, and HR. You’re probably nodding your head (or rolling your eyes) because this is basic, like really basic, for every company ever. So why are we writing about it? Because lack of communication is something many businesses struggle with and it can cause big problems.
When a company suffers from a lack of communication, there’s always fallout:
- Accountability drops
- Resentment builds
- Important information gets lost
- Initiatives fail
- Employees start looking for other employment
The list can go on and on and on. Lack of communication can leave employees feeling directionless and disengaged at the very least, and at worst, cost the business serious money in wasted initiatives, botched sales, and confused and frustrated customers.
So how do you ensure your company is communicating effectively? Start by pick your channels.
Setting up a reliable schedule for meetings is a key part of maintaining consistent communication. There’s a lot of talk about how meetings can be a waste of time if executed improperly and without an agenda, but that’s not a reason to stop having them. Instead, make them better.
- Set up weekly or monthly meetings between team leaders to review overall company goals, update each other on current projects and challenges, and stay up-to-date on interdepartmental projects. Come into the meeting with an agenda and stick to it. If new topics come up during the meeting, make a note and address them at another time.
- Set up 5-minute start-of-day meetings within departments for managers to highlight daily goals and agenda.
- Set up end-of-day (or week) meetings covering what has been accomplished and/or what needs to get done next.
In-person (or video) meetings are critically important to developing relationships, but they shouldn’t be the only way of communicating. Supplement regular meetings with a digital communication channel to keep the communication flowing and document what’s been discussed.
Thankfully, there are countless apps and programs companies can use for internal communication channels. While email is a standard, it’s also so overused that it’s not always the most efficient way for companies to communicate internally. Think about your inbox—there are probably emails waiting to be sorted, emails you haven’t had time respond to, and emails you’ve forgotten entirely. Add in the back-and-forth messiness that comes with email conversations and you’ve got a recipe for poor communication.
While email can be a good option for some communications, it shouldn’t be the only one you use. There are plenty of apps such as Slack or Microsoft Teams that are great for more efficient and effective communication.
With digital apps, you can have direct conversations between individuals. And you can also have conversations in a group format where everyone in the group can see what’s being discussed. Keep this really focused by setting up multiple discussion groups, and have each be for a specific topic. This lets people choose the topics relevant to themselves and their roles.
Whether it’s a direct or group conversation, the digital apps provide a great way to have a string of conversation that is saved and easily searchable.
Keep it consistent
Consistency is at the core of good communication. Once you choose your channels, stick with them. Create an expectation that everyone from the top down consistently participates in the meetings and uses the technology. Make it clear how and when the different channels of communication will be used. The more they’re used effectively, the more people will depend on them, and the more efficient everyone will become.
Leadership must set the example and take the lead in adopting any new technology. If your leaders are still stuck using email or the whiteboard in the common area, the time you spend training your employees to use the program will be wasted.
If your company is struggling with a lack of clarity and communication, ask yourself if everyone has a reliable way to contact one another and discuss internal topics in a timely manner. Then ask if your leaders are committed to using those channels. People will do as you do far more than they’ll do what you say.
Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
Photo by Bonzami Emmanuelle