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  • Writer's pictureJim M. Morgan

Internal Communications: Three Key Considerations



I have developed both external and internal communications for everything from large, multi-national corporations to small, single location entities. In some cases, the critical need for – and tremendous opportunities within – internal communications were not fully appreciated by senior management. In my experience, there is no substitute for internal communications when it comes to building culture and engaging employees, regardless of industry or enterprise. Here are three key things to consider when developing internal communications.

 

1) Keep it casual.

 

If external communications are analogous to speaking with strangers, internal communications are like chatting with family. Accordingly, don’t be too formal. Do you always speak in full sentences without contractions at home? Of course not. Your spouse or significant other will look at you like you’re an alien if you suddenly adopt a highly formal tone. So will employees. Internal communications should not sound like a press release. Make them much more conversational if you want them to connect.

 

Consider the differences between the following: First, “You are hereby notified that, beginning next month, all personnel will be expected to complete a survey. This survey will collect your thoughts and opinions regarding the ongoing operations within our company and its subsidiaries in hopes of identifying opportunities for continuous improvement.” Second, “Next month, we’d like everyone to complete a survey and tell us how we can improve.” The first is stuffy and formal; the second, simple and friendly. Which would more readily generate a response in you?

 

2) Stick to the core.

 

Many companies canonize core values as guiding principles for organizational activity. “Integrity” is a popular one, as is “teamwork” and “innovation.” In some cases, companies identify their core values but then set them on a shelf, so to speak. Posting core values on a website is not the same thing as living them every day. One of the key roles for internal communications is to keep core values alive and vibrant in the minds of personnel.

 

Imagine that an organization has selected “collaboration, excellence and customer service” as its core values. And imagine that this same organization distributes a twice-monthly internal newsletter to employees. A great way to organize the contents of that newsletter would be to use the core values. Rather than provide a random potpourri of information, if all the stories could be categorized as collaboration, excellence or customer service, employees would 1) regularly be reminded of the core values, and 2) be shown the direct connection between the core values and their everyday activities.

 

3) Clearly follow up.

 

Internal communications are an excellent way to solicit and collect employee feedback. Whether generated through an employee engagement survey, a town hall forum, anonymous “How are we doing?” cards, or some other means, feedback provided by personnel is an invaluable resource for leadership. However, collecting feedback comes with two dangers: 1) not reacting to the feedback received, or 2) reacting but failing to make it clear to employees that actions taken are a direct result of feedback received.

 

Let’s say the results of an employee survey show that some personnel struggle to attend early morning meetings due to parental responsibilities. And let’s say leadership decides to mandate that, going forward, no meetings are to be scheduled in the first hour of the workday. The fact that this is being adjusted in direct response to employee feedback should be clearly communicated. It’s surprising how often companies enact positive change but forget to connect the dots between feedback and response. Never underestimate the power of the phrase, “We heard you and responded.”

 

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