The power of internal communication has been well-established. And yet, most companies don’t yet have a fully established strategy to tackle this issue, leading to engagement and satisfaction problems across industries.
Part of the issue is the complexity of this channel. A fully developed internal communications strategy has to include not just goals and metrics, but also the channels through which company and employees will communicate with each other. Unfortunately, as it turns out, both of these stakeholders tend to have very different ideas about what that means.
For organizational leadership, a detailed email may be the preferred channel to communicate important strategic decisions. But what if employees actually prefer face-to-face interactions to consume that type of information? Who should set the preferred communications channels: company leadership or the employees?
As you might imagine, the answer is not a simple one. In fact, it depends largely on the situation and the scenario surrounding the information to be communicated. This article will examine a few of these scenarios to build recommendations on how to choose your optimal channels.
Some decisions are non-negotiable. There are a number of scenarios in which the call on how to communicate with your employees should come from company leadership or your communications team. Let’s examine each of them in more detail.
If you already know what your employees prefer, you can make the call. This applies to companies who have done extensive internal communications research and have received recommendations from teams across the organization. In that case, it’s just about making a final call, and streamlining the process throughout the company. Of course, ensuring effectiveness through goal-setting and measuring your success still makes sense in this scenario.
Most employees tend to agree that they don’t hear enough about their company’s strategic decision-making. While building a strategy to solve that need is highly recommended, the nature of that strategy should come from you. Communication here depends on preferences by your C-suite, and the channels in which they are most comfortable. For top-down communication efforts like this, the company should have the choice on execution of the tactic.
The more varied the groups of employees that you need to communicate with becomes, the more difficult it becomes to leave the choice of channel up to them. Different groups will have very different preferences, and it will be impossible to please them all. To avoid favoritism, gathering feedback on preferences but then making executive decisions on the channels tends to be the most effective strategy.
Finally, it’s important to realize that you’re not operating in isolation. Sure, your employees might love to engage in videoconferencing and advanced, interactive chat systems. Your company’s technology infrastructure might just not support these preferences. When employee recommendations go into these types of impossibilities, company executives should make the call on what channels to leverage.
The above range of options, of course, only describes a few very specific scenarios in which company leadership should make the call. On the other side of the equation, you will find a number of situations where employees are best equipped to choose their preferred communications channels:
Collaboration is key to the success of any modern enterprise. Prescribing how that collaboration should take place, however, can be difficult and dangerous. Your employees want to work together – but at least to some degree, they want to dictate the terms of how that will happen. Allow your teams to set their preferred collaboration channels when possible.
When what’s been done just isn’t working, it’s time to look for alternatives. You might have tried to communicate internally for years, with little effect on your various teams and employees. In that case, it might make sense to switch up the equation. Allow your teams to choose and recommend the channels that might be more effective, then test them out to see if your strategy begins to work more effectively.
Communication is always a two-way street, and part of that process has to be feedback and recommendations for improvement. Your strategy likely already includes this component. Even if it doesn’t allow your employees to choose exactly how they prefer to send feedback your way. The more you accommodate their preferences, the more likely you will be to actually receive actionable feedback that improves your strategy long-term.
Finally, when it comes to internal communications, it tends to be beneficial to not micromanage your employees. For their internal needs, allowing them to choose their preferred channels takes work off your plate while at the same time optimizing their time. That might lead to some emails turning into meetings and vice versa–still, by allowing your team to choose, you can gain trust and focus your efforts on company-wide initiatives.
Ultimately, the takeaway from this article should not be selecting the channel between your employees or company leadership as decision-makers. The best internal communications strategies and channels are built upon collaboration between all stakeholders. Rather than making a selecting on preferred channels in isolation, this feedback can maximize your effectiveness and optimize the ways in which your teams communicate.
Feedback is crucial not just for the initial setup of the strategy, but on an ongoing basis as well. If you select channels that just don’t work as well as intended, you should know about them as early as possible, which is impossible without the right feedback mechanism in place. Over time, this type of collaborative decision-making leads to a more effective, mutually-beneficial strategy and implementation.
Technology, of course, also matters. An internal communications strategy can only be built on technology readily available to you, which is why an intranet solution can be so beneficial. It widens the scope of possibilities for your communications channels, maximizing your chances of finding the channels that work for all involved. To learn more about the benefits of intranets and how they can help in this decision-making process, contact us.