Internal communication plays a critical role in the success of organizations in general as it leads to increased employee morale and boosts their performance. Research has shown that highly successful organizations align their communication objectives with their larger business objectives. Internal communication involves a sound two way communication between all employees at all levels. It plays a crucial role in companies under going transition such as acquisitions, mergers or divestiture and helps employees understand why change is needed and get their complete support. In such instances, it is imperative to keep the flow of communication going from top management and also to provide forums/platforms for employees to ask questions and voice their concerns and feedback.
However, factors such as the culture of an organization, limited resources or funding, departmental silos and employee attitudes can get in the way of internal communication and act as barrier. A successful communication plan requires serious investment of time and effort. When internal communication is addressed at a strategic level with a comprehensive and well thought out action plan, it helps employees feel like they belong and also strengthens the brand.
Depending on the nature of communication, an appropriate channel can be chosen such as – Newsletters, E-zines, Intranets, Ambassadors, staff forums, social media, social events, focus groups, awards etc. An internal communication plan will identify stakeholders, objectives, channels to be utilized, timelines and budgets. It will also provide for feedback and evaluation at the end of the campaign. There are a few best practice guidelines to remember when it comes to internal communication:
- Encourage top executives to communicate constantly and keep information flowing through ongoing communication initiatives
- Be the first to communicate both positive and negative news – It’s better for the employees to hear it from you rather than from the media
- Important messages need repeating – People don’t necessarily listen or understand the first time. You will have to repeat key messages and also find different ways of communicating the same thing. For e.g. repeat the same information in Newsletter, email, staff meetings, via posters etc.
- Check all facts carefully for accuracy and relevancy – Determine if the message is right/relevant to the target audience before you launch a piece of communication
- Always give background information and ask for feedback – This allows you to tweak your messaging in the subsequent campaigns and tailor them to the needs of your audience.
To summarize, a good internal communication plan should act as a two way street – it should not be just about disseminating information top down. It should also provide ample scope for employees to communicate their feedback and opinions.