It’s important to make sure you send your message to the right audience. Not every employee needs to be on the receiving end of all internal communication.
Communication and transparency have always been at the forefront of HR initiatives. The Covid-19 pandemic introduced new barriers to communications, as many employees quickly became (and stayed) remote. This phenomenon forced both large and small employers to tighten up and re-evaluate their internal communication strategies.
At small companies, communication typically falls on the HR or the People Ops department to set the tone. This usually happens because of how closely communication is tied to employee engagement and productivity, and it is often viewed as the nature of the HR role.
The importance of solid internal communication cannot be understated. One McKinsey study found that productivity increased by 20-25% when teams were well-connected, while 31% of respondents in a study by The Economist found that poor communication resulted in low morale.
Below we cover how to identify whether or not you’re communicating effectively. We’ll also explore how you can align your communication strategy with your strategic efforts to be inclusive and transparent.
1. Evaluate your current internal communication performance
A great first step would be to audit all of the distributed items from your team relating to:
- Communication pieces
- Forms of communication
You’d want to get a good enough idea of where communication is coming from and how it’s being delivered. This way, you know what needs to get measured.
Once you have a good 360-degree view of your communication pieces, you can begin to measure your current communication performance and effectiveness. This can be done using a pulse survey or as part of a wider employee engagement survey.
How to focus your data gathering
As you move forward in gathering information, ask your employees if they feel well-informed about the company’s:
You could also ask them if they feel the medium is usually appropriate for the messages being communicated.
From there, you can make the necessary adjustments to your internal communication strategy.
Employee surveys can be eye-opening and reveal communication blindspots. For example, your survey could reveal that employees would prefer significant company changes are communicated in town halls rather than in emails, so they could ask questions.
The information you gather from this process will help you assess how effectively you’re communicating
2. Be intentional; align communications to strategic efforts
To ensure your communication strategy is aligned with your company strategy, some factors to consider include:
- How, when, and what channels do leaders use to share information with the workforce (town halls, Slack, email, etc.)?
- Know who you need to include in company communications, and who needs to communicate the message
- The company’s position on style, tone, content, and language (are we formal or informal? Are we using inclusive language?)
As we consider these approaches, let’s dive a little deeper into each one.
How, when, and who should be included in the communication?
Be sure you customize your communication around the message you are sharing. This includes considering the:
- Audience who receives the message
Choose the channels (the “how”) you use based on the message you are sending. These may include:
- Town halls
For example, announcing a huge organizational restructure via a town hall would be more suitable than via Slack.
The cadence of communication (the “when”) also depends on the message. The major takeaway is that it’s important to build a rhythm and set a calendar.
Some communication might occur on an “as needed” basis and require some flexibility, while other messages should be planned and scheduled. For example, recognizing excellent performers might happen daily, whereas meetings requiring the entire team might only happen quarterly.
Let’s move on to the “who” in the equation. When you consider the “who” is crucial, you recognize that it looks at both who is doing the communicating and who receives the communication. One example is that HR leaders should be the owners of communicating significant changes to evaluations and vacation policies.
It’s also important to make sure you send your message to the right audience. Not every employee needs to be on the receiving end of all internal communication. Here’s an example: your contractors probably don’t care to read lengthy emails about a new time-off policy that only impacts benefits-eligible employees.
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Style, tone, content, and language
It’s important to make sure you’re using the right tone. We believe that communication should be on a personal level.
The goal when you are communicating should be to be authentic and personal. At the end of the day, you’re working with adults, and being direct, credible, and transparent should be in alignment with your company strategy.
Below is a checklist for effective communication, with more details on page 14. You want to demonstrate:
- An engaging tone
What you say and how you say it is a significant factor in delivering your message.
3. Say what you mean and mean what you say
It might seem obvious, but it’s easy to accidentally derail attention from the main points that you’re trying to communicate. This is easier when you’re working with written communication because you’re able to edit your message and have others do a clarity check. If you’re communicating something important verbally, you can practice and make sure you lead with the most important part.
Be intentional about the language you are using. Part of your company strategy should include being inclusive and diverse. This means that:
- Language should not be gender-specific
- You’re using gender-neutral pronouns (“they” is grammatically correct!)
- The message is accessible, meaning communication should also be offered digitally for screen readers
- You don’t rely on one-sided communication (encourage feedback, and be transparent that you might need help to be more inclusive)
You can have some fun with your internal communication! Using emojis is even encouraged to use them when you are recognizing fellow colleagues or welcoming people aboard 😊🤩👏
4. Consider your own personal communication skills
Beyond your corporate strategy, it’s important to think about your own communication style. Do you:
- Think about how what you are saying will be perceived by others?
- Consider the nuance of what you are saying?
- Take the time to read the room?
Making sure you’re self-aware and communicating in a way that reflects the company values is important. When you do, your leadership and communication style will ensure you set the tone to help contribute to the overall message.
5. Ask: Am I improving?
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
When you implement strong communication processes and ensure everything is effective, you will not only keep your employees informed but they will also be more engaged. Your employees appreciate it, and they’ll be better performers.
Really want to be a Great Communicator? Your ultimate goal should be: transparent, honest, and open to feedback.