Organisations that understand the benefits of having a well-functioning internal communications strategy are leaps and bounds ahead of others in more ways than you might think.
Unfortunately, many companies and managers don’t give the appropriate attention to the development of these strategies, often hoarding key information to a select few and keeping frontline staff in the dark as if they were competitors.
It’s a strange approach when you consider that when it comes to developing strategic business plans, most organisations understand the importance of having a plan to guide operations, decision-making and strategic activities. So why wouldn’t internal communications be addressed the same way?
In some cases you see that determining what communication goes out, from who, and when, is often left to those who need to communicate something and is acted on as required. In other words, internal communication activities are rarely proactive and are only used when there is a crisis or event that needs to be addressed. This effectively trains employees to anticipate bad news every time management wants to speak to them.
In other instances, when communication strategies are developed, they’re often drafted to support major organisational changes, leadership transitions or specific announcements. However, once the discrete communications plan has been delivered, business practices tend to go back to normal, and internal communication, or lack thereof, follows.
These practices continue despite the common acceptance that internal engagement and strategic internal communication planning builds stronger, more proactive and efficient teams.
So what are the real benefits of good internal communication?
Employees understand the big picture; the vision, the mission and how they fit in
When employees understand a company’s mission, goals, values and procedures there is a greater sense of coherence in the workplace. In this type of environment, employees tend to work towards common goals and are more likely to feel a sense of ownership towards their activities. When employees understand the values and principles of an organisation, they feel more empowered to make decisions that often align with the company’s mission, and reduce the need for micro-management.
Employees are more productive
As a result of having more informed and empowered employees, team members are more likely to be more productive in their day-to-day activities and get the job done without waiting for lengthy approvals. This has a significant positive impact on the output of teams and can reduce the load on senior managers.
More engaged and effective leaders
Leaders who have a better understanding of the company’s direction and goals will be better placed to implement productive workflows and encourage team members. They’ll also feel like there is a greater sense of trust in them from executive management and recognition of their position and role.
Managers that see communication as business as usual will also be more likely to open the lines of communication within their own teams and in turn will have a better understanding of employee needs and how to meet those needs to engage and inspire.
A culture of communication is fostered
When you build an understanding that communication is a continuous process, and not a one-off event is when you will start to see the real benefits of internal communications. Constantly asking the right questions, and answering them in an honest and appropriate way will build a culture of trust, loyalty and credibility and become business as usual within the organisation.