Internal communications are a vital part of any business’s operations. Effective IC helps communicate key staff changes, can create a strong sense of company culture, and can boost employee engagement. When done correctly, IC is a real asset to business owners, managers, and leaders.
However, poor IC can have a detrimental impact on leadership — particularly in the pandemic age where organizational communications have mostly moved to a hybrid format of emails, video conferences, in-person meetings, and communication platforms like Microsoft Teams.
Here are a few ways IC impacts leadership, and what businesses can do to improve.
Management is all about proactively engaging with your employees to ensure that issues are resolved before they balloon into major problems. The best way for managers to harness this proactive approach is to open channels of communication and lean on effective IC to help employees feel comfortable coming forward.
To build an effective IC channel with employees, managers should position themselves as leaders. To do this, managers must understand the different communication styles that employees use and should adapt their messaging to account for “socializers”, “directors”, “realtors”, and “thinkers”.
The key for managers is to recognize that they are attempting to open dialogue between employees and management. If employees feel that they relate to their leaders, and see that their ideas, values, and concerns are taken seriously, they will be far more likely to open up and start communicating. This is a process that takes time and may require managers to change their leadership approach to better serve employees.
The past year and a half has taught us all the value of a clear, unified message. If leaders in your organization are struggling to sing off the same hymn sheet, you’ll find that the effectiveness of leadership initiatives is hampered, as employees will become frustrated with mixed messages and will tune out communications.
Getting on the same page requires a business to hit “pause” while you figure out the “who”, “how”, and “why” of your internal communications. This can get a little confusing, as many variables must go into deciding upon an effective internal communications strategy.
To keep track of your ideas from day to day, you can utilize collaborative tools like online sticky notes and keep track of your workflow by choosing a communication platform that actually suits your business.
Emails will be a part of effective IC strategies for the foreseeable future, but communication platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Workspace are making it easier to get in touch with employees.
It can be hard to know which platform is right for your organization, so here’s a quick breakdown of the main players currently:
- Google Workspace: Google’s communication platform works in tandem with other Google products like Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Gmail. It’s a great option if you’re already using Google services in your business, and will help you keep all of your work in one place.
- Microsoft Teams: Microsoft’s offering is essentially a streamlined chat service. If your organization uses Outlook, then teams will automatically find all users within the organization so you can find folks easily. There are also a good number of interactive features like Gifs, so employees may enjoy using this communication platform.
- Slack: Slack is the market leader in communication platforms currently — and for good reason. Their offering is intuitive, and the user experience is, frankly, more enjoyable than other platforms. Slack is also well integrated with other apps like Google Analytics and Mailchimp, so you can feel confident that your business operations will transfer well onto their service.
Regardless of which communication platform you choose, there is a golden rule to effective IC when using these programs: use them more for praise and positivity than to rebuke or call employees into meetings.
If you only use your communication channels to do things that are difficult or time-consuming, employees will find ways to “miss” notifications and will come to hate the sound of your platform’s “ping” — and you certainly can’t blame them. If every message you received derailed your work-day, you would also do your best to mute and ignore it. So, instead, fill your communication channel with praise, exciting news, and positivity.
Confusing or ineffective IC can derail leadership efforts and sabotage the operational changes companies are attempting to instil. Conversely, IC that is well planned and puts employees first can make all the difference in an organization’s culture and efficiency.
To truly harness the potential of IC, leaders should open clear channels for communication for employees, and must account for the different leadership styles that employees will respond best to. All this can be made easier if your business chooses the right communication platform, and utilizes it as a tool to build employee trust and spread positivity.
By Indiana Lee, BOSS contributor