Internal communication is as underrated as it is important. Most people think little about it until a problem arises.
If you’ve allowed a bad culture to go unchecked, for too long, you run the risk your problem may have been discovered too late. If it’s that toxic, chances are your internal communication was poor to start. Chances are you have not taken time to understand your internal communication issues or, perhaps worst of all, you intentionally ignored problems gnawing at your company’s culture. Too many times, entering full-blown ostrich mode, is easier than confronting and dealing with systemic issues exacerbated by poor internal communication.
Keep open lines of communication between leadership and the team. How leadership lead if it’s ineffective at basic communication? Dial your ego down and talk to people.
Here are a few things leadership can do:
- It may seem obvious, but: Care about your organization’s culture. Stay in contact with the team to better understand what is really happening. This positions leadership to more effectively improve culture. A positive culture enhances creativity and productivity. A well-thought-out newsletter, as an example, can spread feel-good news (beyond work accomplishments). Determine if a newsletter works for your team. I have witnessed environments where a newsletter makes sense and offices where it fails. If it is going to fail, don’t force it. You could do more harm than good. Seek an alternative option. Maybe small groups go to lunch or hang out for an hour or so after work. Maybe there’s a bowling night, a trip to the local ice cream shop or something else. It could be as simple as greater transparency. Find out what works best for your team. How do you do that? Communicate with team members – as many as possible.
- A two-way communication flow is essential. When leadership ignores or disregards employees, in the middle or on the bottom, it can become disheartening. It further promotes a climate of disrespect and distrust that can be destructive to your team’s morale. Speak directly to people rather than always through intermediaries. It’s a sign of respect, it demonstrates higher value for team members. Communication may not always be clear when it is indirect, through someone who is in the middle. Avoid letting multiple leadership levels create a rigid class structure that can be counterproductive to good and open communication. Your culture and team morale deserve the best.
- What do your people want? You may not be able to give them everything they want, but you can give them respect and time. Listen to people. Be openminded. Be respectful. Listen carefully. Articulate your plan, your vision. Do not rely on trickle-down communication to spread the word. The filter, as I mentioned earlier, could distort the original message.
- Do you feel locked in an endless number of long and/or pointless meetings? Understand your culture to determine what’s effective communication. Perhaps meetings work, but maybe you schedule too many – to the point staff can’t get work done. Maybe you have people who prefer to communicate, via email; perhaps you have people who prefer one-on-one contact that is more informal, in or out of the office; possibly people simply hate excessive unnecessary meetings, and particularly long ones; and perhaps your tone matters.
- Would small-group lunches work? Your CEO should meet, on at least a somewhat regular basis, with as many staff members as possible. Don’t let chain-of-command stifle communication. Remember this, when people say they’re busy: “People make time for things that are important to them.”
- What do your employees need for good mental health? The best way to find out is to talk to them.
You’ll never know what’s going on, with your team, if you refuse to engage in meaningful and respectful internal communication.
Talk to your team. Determine the best way to make that happen. Don’t assume you, or other higher-level executives, have a lock on intelligence.
SG3 Communications can work with you to develop a strategy for the the best approach for your brand. Remember: One size does not fit all. Your business is unique and special. Let us build a strategy that is as unique and special as your brand.
Check out the SG3 Communications website for more information and to learn about our services.