For dozens of years, companies have focused their communications primarily on the outside: clients, consumers, partners, and communities. However, no matter how brilliant your external communications are, if your employees are working in silos with no clear vision of the company and feel they are on autopilot for eight hours a day, the business will stagnate, be unable to develop and adjust to the market and will not be successful in the end.
The world has been through tectonic shifts that made most companies, no matter the size, realize how important it is to face the people and communicate with them. Communication means the exact opposite of the example in the first paragraph – people, who understand what the company stands for, what is expected of them and why they do their job. It is crucial for people to feel like a part of a close-knit team, to understand their contribution to each achievement and success, and to feel heard, respected, and safe.
There is still an ongoing debate on where internal communications belong within the company. There are different models and each of them has a place. We will not go into this and will instead point out that communications within a company are too important of a process to be left to one person or one team. It is everyone’s responsibility.
The only way to make this happen is to determine what types of communication exist within a system, and set up processes and goals in such a way that these communications really benefit the company.
It is crucial for people to feel like a part of a close-knit team, to understand their contribution to each achievement and success, and to feel heard, respected, and safe.
Let us begin with the simplest aspect – internal communication, singular. Internal communication in this context means the language of your corporate culture, or, basically, how people within the system communicate with each other – in meetings, in the hallways, in emails and in official statements.
There is a saying that a person will rarely remember what you said, but will always remember how they felt in your company. This is a great explanation of how the way we communicate impacts how we perceive our work environment. It is important to set the tone of voice you want the company to have. There are many ways to do this, and your colleagues in marketing may be able to help.So, put the top management, HR and corporate communications team in one room and start the conversation. Because, again, this is everyone’s responsibility.
Another familiar term is employee communication, which is the process of providing employees with all the relevant and important information they may need in their work. This includes technical or organizational announcements, from HR, IT or HSE to CxO addresses. Each piece of information has its owner. The piece of information may be communicated either by the owner directly or by the internal communications team. This depends on the organization, but if the owner communicates the information directly, they have to do so with the help of internal communications. Because – you’ve guessed it – this is everyone’s responsibility.
Internal communications as a concept goes far beyond keeping employees informed and determining the language of the corporate culture. This process helps people within the business understand the strategy and the goals of the business, and, on the other hand, helps the business understand employees and their needs. This is the central communication process within the company. It exists to facilitate the relationship between the company and the employees, to establish and maintain open dialogue, and build trust.
There is a saying that a person will rarely remember what you said, but will always remember how they felt in your company. This is a great explanation of how the way we communicate impacts how we perceive our work environment.
One role of internal communications is that of a moderator, as they create the format and infrastructure of the communication channels. Another role is that of independent media that collects and publishes information that is timely and relevant for the business and the people, without any personal PR or ambitions. Finally, the most important role is that of an advocate for employees.
Internal communications team focuses on the employee and views things from the employee’s perspective. The team is there to make sure the employees are not overwhelmed by the information. They will also help sources of important information publish it in the proper format, in proper time and through the proper channel.
They will ask you many questions. First, the same questions any employee could ask, and then the strategic ones: Why is this information relevant for employees? Is it for everyone or for a specific group? What do we want people to think, feel, and do, when they get this information? How do we know this interaction has been successful?
The goal of any communication is to cause change, action, or progress, but this is possible only if the message is good enough. This is why some of the questions above may sound annoying, as they may make you take a step back and rethink what it is you want to communicate. But, again, it is a common responsibility to create an effective message and effectively communicate it.
At the end of the day, communication is a living thing. As individuals, we can study and learn it to build better relationships in all aspects of our lives. Companies can set up communications as a process and manage it. It is much simpler to manage communications then to let them happen and unfold. Because, without proper direction, they may go in ways that could have serious consequences for your business.
Author: Tijana Bejatović
Publication: HR World Magazine No. 8 (2022)