We live in the digital era, which means everybody can express their opinions and thoughts over social media. You can instantly communicate with a pal from the other side of the world, and even do business and develop successful relationships, both personal and professionally. But whilst this is a great benefit for external communication purposes, sometimes it can be harming when it comes to communicating with our internal team. We’ve talked to Dannie Lu Carr from Flaming Poppy about this modern problem among both small and big companies.
Why internal communication matters
Imagine this: you turn up to work in the morning. Nobody says hello, nobody asks what's going on, and everyone communicates through email and instant messaging. When a client gets in touch, nobody knows what’s happening, people throw responsibility in every direction but their own, and then everyone rolls their eyes at one another for being so incompetent.
This may sound ridiculous, but many businesses aren't too far away from this less-than-idyllic image.
Saying that people should just know how to communicate is like assuming that people should just know how to do their accounting, or cook a gourmet meal. Communication does come naturally to some people, but most of us need a little more help and advice.
This is especially true in the context of internal communications, where office politics, long running cultural patterns and historical blocks can get in the way of effective communication.
What good internal communication looks like
Internal communications need to flow between people who are coordinating projects and managers to ensure the success of the business. They also need to flow from those who manage the business to the people they manage.
Why? Because Internal communications impact three important areas:
- Decision making. All levels of management need accurate, timely and complete information to make the best quality decisions about the business.
- Inter-departmental coordination. Individual departments need to communicate with each other so that interrelated functions work smoothly together.
- Team information. Keeping team members informed about company activities is an essential tool for motivation and retention.
How to improve internal communication
You need to actively support good internal communication in your business. It won't just happen on its own. Here are some ideas for improving internal communication:
- Break up meeting patterns. You can do a half hour ‘breakfast and blather’ a few times a month to give people an informal place to catch up. You could also run a few ‘coffee and catch up’ afternoons where everyone shares what is going on in their role – the good, the bad, the ugly.
- Rethink your office space. Ensure the layout of your workplace encourages (rather than discourages) conversation. Are there places for people to have conversations, or to brainstorm together?
- Give people the right tools. Make sure people are equipped with mobile devices so they can stay in touch and connected on the go, or when they're working remotely.
- Listen. Ask. Respond. Divulge. All communication needs to be checked into consciously so as not to not die away.
How do you manage internal communications within your business? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
- Why a mobile-savvy environment is beneficial for your business
- 3 IT mistakes to avoid when opening a new office
Note: this article was originally published on 30 January, 2014. It has since been updated.