Internal communication is often overlooked. Yet it is one of the most important qualities of a healthy and growing business. The bad news is that good internal communication is not always easy. The good news, however, is that once you start the process, you will see new successes all over the place. Here are ten characteristics you should see along the way during your company’s journey toward great internal communication.
Internal communication is all about the conversation. It is important to remember that a conversation is not a monologue. Rather, each party must learn to share and to listen in a relatively equal way. Employers and managers should not feel that the floor is always theirs. Employees should realize that, once they have been given a voice in the company, they must use it well and not abuse it. The business interaction between employers and employees – as well as between one employee to another – should be balanced and respectful. The first step in the journey toward healthy internal communications is realizing that this is not a one way street. This is a dialogue.
A sense of belonging is absolutely crucial for good communication within a business. Managers and employees alike need to feel accepted, loved, and needed by their work community in order to perform at their best. Start building community by creating fun activities for coworkers to do together. Start a Facebook group. Go on a relaxing outing together. When community is formed outside the office, it is easy to bring it inside. Make sure to use inclusive language. You are not working on “his project” or “my project.” You are working on “our project.” Also, make sure that you and your team have common goals (see #10). A sense of community is vital for good communication.
Let us break down that word for one moment. Resource-ful-ness. The quality of being full of resources – that is, of having a lot of resources. Of course, that is not how we usually think of the word today. Instead, the word thrifty or various synonyms often come to mind. And indeed, you may or may not have a lot of resources to begin with. But the point is that you make full use of the resources you do have, and more will open up for you. At the beginning, you may not have a lot of time, money, enthusiasm, etc. But use them well, and you will find your resources growing. Make sure each minute you take, each dollar you spend, and each action you decide on is clearly supportive of your objectives. Before you know it, you will have gone from just having a Facebook page to having an entire app devoted to your company’s internal communication; and then beyond!
Honesty is the best policy, as the old saying goes. And it could not be more true than it is in internal communications. Honesty is a huge step toward healthy communication between employees and their employer. They need to know what you are thinking and feeling. The deserve to know your vision for the company and what direction it is currently headed in. They must know if the business is headed toward disaster or on the brink of success. This will not only make them feel valued and needed, it will also help them know how to perform well according to the needs of the company. You, on the other hand, need to know (and listen to) their honest opinions about various projects. You need to understand what is and is not working for them. Honesty is a must for good communication.
It is hard to strike the right balance between the old and the new, between tradition and innovation. But whatever your opinions may be, it is important to be open to both. It is especially crucial to have an open attitude toward your employees, and encourage employees to also maintain openness toward each other. Each person in the office will have a slightly different idea to bring to the table; and, inevitably, some will be better than others. But by maintaining a listening ear and a willingness to try something new, you encourage your employees to continue to bring you their ideas. An open attitude will go a long way in fostering internal communication.
Imagination is the twin sibling of openness. Openness fosters imagination and vice versa. It is important to look past what is, and envision what is still possible. Imagination can turn the mundane into an exciting adventure for everyone. Both employers and employees should be constantly asking, “How can we improve? What would make this project better, and how can we get there?” The good thing about imagination is that it is contagious. When one person starts envision great things, the rest start to catch on quite quickly. And when the entire team is on a roll, communication can flourish.
We have all had meetings or conversations that ended up going in circles and accomplishing nothing. And none of us wants to experience something like that again. When miscommunication and misunderstand muddies the waters, things can become very difficult. Employees become confused and, to be honest, frustrated. On the other hand, clear communication is like a breath of fresh air or a ray of sunshine on a gray day. Put forth an effort, whenever possible, to communicate goals, desires, and thoughts and clearly and simply as possible. You may like sounding fancy. But sounding fancy is not the point, nor will it help your internal communication journey. Clarity, on the other hand, will encourage communication.
Mutual respect, support, and encouragement are absolutely vital for healthy communication. Employers and employees need to watch out for each others’ backs. No one person is trying to get to the top alone. The team works as a whole, and each one supports the other. This is especially important when you look back to #1: Dialogue. A true dialogue can only take place when there is mutual support and respect. As each person is accepted into the circle, they will feel more able to speak up and more ready to listen well. When your employees have a team spirit, communication is easy and efficient.
Last but not least, great internal communication happens when all members of the team are on the same page when it comes to what the end goal is. If a few people are working toward one thing, and a few toward another, communication will be garbled and inefficient. When the goals of the project are clear, however, a lot can be accomplish in a rather short time. Of course, having clear-cut goals requires great communication skills on the part of the manager/employer. It is okay if establishing goals takes a little time. But once the objectives are clear and understood, internal communication will thrive.
A perfect internal communication strategy will not happen overnight. That is why we call it a journey. These ten qualities will take time to develop. But remember that through it all, IC Thrive has your back. If you have questions, or need a helping hand, please contact us. We are here to make your internal communication strategy a complete success.