How an Effective Internal Communication Strategy Promotes Healthy Communication
It is important for employees to understand your organization's goals — an effective communication plan can help.
Communication can help drive business performance. Effective employee communication can even be an indicator of financial performance. One of the keys to a successful internal communication strategy is for all involved to have shared goals and objectives. Upper management sets the tone for the organization by clearly stating the firm's goals and regularly sharing information on how it's performing against those objectives.
Setting the Tone
According to the ADP Research Institute® report, Evolution of Work 2.0: The Me vs. We Mindset, 82 percent of employees want an important role in the organization. In other words, they want to feel that what they do matters to their organizations.
In order for firms to grow sustainably and continually deliver value, employees must understand where the firm is headed, what must be done to get there and why each person is important. When CEOs and the rest of the executive team communicate this with the organization at large, practice this with their direct reports and hold them accountable for doing the same, the entire firm can get focused on how each person helps deliver results.
Depending on the size of the firm, annual, quarterly or monthly organization-wide meetings in which relevant business performance information is shared can help. These meetings are also good for recognizing the stellar achievements of individuals, teams or departments, and providing a synopsis of the why, what and how of these achievements.
For larger organizations, this same information can be conveyed in internal monthly newsletters and supported by periodic departmental or team meetings. When the internal communication strategy involves not only sharing goals, but also marking the progress against those goals and recognizing achievement, employees should believe that what they do matters.
Assessing Communication Effectiveness
According to Forbes, to achieve sustainable growth, businesses such as Coca-Cola and Aflac Inc. send out annual employee engagement surveys to determine if employees understand the goals and strategy for achieving them and if they believe the firm is taking the right steps to accomplish their goals. Suggestions and helpful feedback are solicited and then actually used. Due to the sheer size of large Fortune 500 firms, surveys may be the best means to obtain input from the masses that upper management can review, understand and use to make changes.
Surveys also work at smaller businesses. Many employees don't feel comfortable sharing their opinions in meetings or one-on-one. Surveys, on the other hand, are typically anonymous, so employees often feel safer sharing their thoughts and ideas. The key is to then use the survey information to improve business performance. Finance leaders can work with HR to help translate qualitative survey data into actions that drive measurable performance results.
Optimizing Internal Communication
According to CEB, the top three drivers of employee performance are understanding and connecting to the business' goals, being committed to and supportive of fellow employees and having the right knowledge, skills and experience. In-group and cross-group collaboration on projects and initiatives incorporates all three of these drivers. A successful project has clear deliverables tied to business performance, is staffed by managers and employees who support one another and has on-the-job and offline opportunities for personal and professional development.
Meetings, as noted earlier, are also effective, but only when used to actively collaborate or share information. Otherwise, without a clear agenda and deliverable, meetings can be great time wasters. Finally, "water cooler" talks can offer opportunities for those who do not often work together to share information that can be helpful. Sometimes great information comes from informal gatherings.
For an organization to achieve its goals and objectives year after year, its employees must work productively and efficiently toward those goals. Therefore, it is critical that employees clearly understand what those overall goals and objectives are and how they relate to their work and their work objectives. A value-driven internal communication strategy makes all of that very clear.