Internal Communications: Getting it Right
While marketing, advertising and PR are all great vehicles for getting your key messages out to the wider world, many CEOs forget one simple fact – that the best word-of-mouth for any business comes from those closest to it: the employees.
Your employees are your most important stakeholders – and your greatest brand ambassadors. Ensuring regular, consistent communication to everyone within the business is essential if you are to engage them, whether they are part of the executive management team or work the shop floor.
And internal engagement is critical. Without it you cannot expect your team to be working towards your company’s common goals – especially if they are not even clear on what those goals are. Equally, it’s important to have strong business values. If you don’t make the company culture visible, you can’t expect your employees to behave in line with your brand’s ethos.
Transparency is integral to internal communications. Many CEOs have felt the backlash when they have made a big decision that impacts the whole business, but haven’t communicated it well (or at all) to those who matter most. Hearing about it through a public news announcement is never going to ingratiate staff towards head office.
Another essential point to remember is that although internal communications are never intended to be seen outside of the business, as much care should be taken with the linguistic style and tone as a media release, for example. You are still conveying key messages to a core audience, so take as much time and care as you would any other piece of written collateral.
Finally, don’t ever circulate anything you wouldn’t want talked about or published outside of the four walls you work within. As demonstrated by Deane Priest of Brumby’s early last year, nothing is ever ‘off the record’. Read more here.
Top tips for getting internal communications right:
1) Ensure a consistent voice – make sure that any written materials (memos, emails, blogs etc.) are all written in the same tone and with the same language. Consistency will ensure you are talking as ‘one company, one voice’.
2) Involve your employees – if something big is happening with the business, ask your employees for their opinions/feedback on how this should be communicated. Hearing from them how best to approach the situation will help you get it right.
3) Communicate little and often – short, snappy communication done on a regular basis is likely to be more engaging that long, complicated emails/letters that go unread because of lack of time (or attention).
4) Encourage internal social networks – this will allow all employees on all levels to interact, removing any ‘them and us’ feelings.
5) Respond quickly to negative news – if murmurings are afoot that there is something wrong with the business, respond quickly and honestly. This is far better than allowing the rumour mill to get out of control and will reassure employees that their employer is looking out for them.