6 min read
When I first started my role in Internal Communications I decided to take advantage of our great book benefit and invest some time in a book called “The Credible Company” by Roger D’Aprix. I’d recommend it to anyone in the communications business and we’ve got some other great titles on our Rebel Bookstore.
One of the most memorable stories included in the book is from Xerox back in the 1960s. Poor planning and a total lack of open and honest communication led to a total nightmare situation.
Rather than employees finding out about changes to the business through internal communication channels, they found out in the local newspaper.
You can just imagine now how that would make you feel as an employee. Fear, speculation, low-morale. Office gossip reigned supreme and productivity hit an all time low. It led many painful years for the business to gain trust from their employees again, and a huge amount of work, effort and cost to recover the huge loss of market share this poor communication strategy had incited.
Let’s promise ourselves now that we will never put our people through that. Let’s remember that if there is a destination you want your employees to get to, you have to take them on the journey with you. In my expanded role as Head of Global Employee Engagement and Internal Communications (quite a mouthful!), this is more important to me than ever before.
Here are five basics to remember when you’re wanting to create better communications for your workplace and improve employee engagement...
Do ... Find effective methods of communication
For starters, have you created a communications role in your team? Or assigned employee communication responsibilities to a talented staff member who has the ability to manage this alongside their day-to-day role? If not, it’s worth some serious consideration.
Having at least one individual, if not a small team, to review important communications before they go out to the rest of business can be very valuable.
They can also make sure that the tone and format have been considered and bulletins are well written, easy to digest and crucially, waffle free! Not to mention free of any lazy copy/paste jobs!
Manager briefings are also essential and can be done in whatever way suits the set-up of your business best. If you’re all in one office, embrace the fact and schedule in-person manager briefings at regular intervals. Otherwise, traditional email, programmes like Slack or an internal communications platform can aid when staff are set across various offices, countries or even time zones. On the subject of time zones…
Don’t... be beaten by time differences
It can be intimidating enough communicating with staff across different offices, let alone across time zones. But while it might sound simple, overcoming this can just be a case of employing excellent diary management. And I mean really sturdy, foolproof diary management!
Set yourself on the right path with this early on by setting realistic timelines and don’t leave things to the last minute. This will encourage your staff to be strict with their deadlines, too.
It sounds simple, but forwarding emails, or putting messages in Slack, which I mentioned above, can also help keep everyone abreast of progress. You can then get everyone caught up in greater detail during weekly catch-ups, or those manager briefings we just touched upon.
The tools are there to do this, but you can’t be afraid to use them.
Don’t... make your staff fill in the blanks
People can start to act difficult if they don’t understand what is going on around them. Without necessary information, they can get fearful and start filling in the blanks with panicky presumptions. Not only that, but not everyone is a natural-born communicator.
Equipping staff in these roles with key information and knowledge about company projects as early as possible helps to foster this trusting and open environment. It is also the only way you can expect them to make the same decisions as you.
In turn, those in key directorial roles will trust that their input is valued, and feel more encouraged communicating their own considerations and contributions. What you then create is a workplace with engaged employees who feel as though their thoughts are heard and they are an active part of company successes and progression — and it all starts with better communication in the workplace.
Just as we’re invested in a bookshelf or bedframe when its been built by our own hands, (Hello, Ikea), staff are more invested in a business decision, project or movement that they’ve had a hand in. This is particularly true for those who have a real stake in the company. It’s up to managers and directors to hold themselves accountable to be open and honest with the rest of the company.
There would be no sense in struggling to build a house alone if there were 10 professional builders stood outside the door.
So why try to nourish, grow and further a company without the help of open and honest communication with your employees?
Let them in, give them a hammer and give them your blessing to go at it.
Don’t... wait for perfection
Time and time again, I see senior company figures waiting until everything is “perfect” before they feel ready to share. But if you keep them at an arm’s length until the end, you’ll miss out on all of their input, ideas and support. Having your directors at your side from the start and being honest with them is always the way.
Not waiting for perfection means my team of internal bloggers and I are able to fix types on my phone if I really wanted to, on-the-go all while managing Reward Gateway’s employee engagement platform, boom!, no matter where I may be at the time.
How do you get them outside the door in the first place? You guessed it… employee communication. It draws them to the door, and it welcomes them in. Then, it thanks them.
One of the ways we thank our team is with our social recognition wall. A member of staff at any level of seniority can send an eCard that then posts onto a feed that the whole company can see. It makes it visible that our leaders are united. Which brings us nicely to my final point….
Do... present a united front
Directors at war with each other are like divorced parents, and staff are like the kids who just want them united.
When all the leaders of a company are aligned in a company’s purpose, mission and values, staff find it far easier to instill their trust– and in turn open communication– in them. They can trust in what is happening above their heads, and trust that they’re working as a team to do the right thing.
Employing all five of these methods to your communication plan will improve relations, understanding and trust from your senior and mid-level directors. Trust me. You just have to put the work in first. After all, that bookshelf isn’t going to build itself.