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Internal Communication – More Important Today Than Ever

September 22, 2020

While today’s environment has changed the way we work and interact, internal communication has always influenced employee engagement. Here’s what you should be implementing.

COVID-19 has certainly altered the way we work, but internal communication remains incredibly important. Internal communication influences employee engagement, which, in turn, impacts employee retention, productivity, client satisfaction, and the overall strength of an organization.

Recent challenges facing businesses

COVID-19 has challenged leaders to be more deliberate and thoughtful with internal communication. Uncertainty associated with organizational stability, job security, remote work, individual health, and school and child-care availability has increased employee stress, isolation, and even depression. With the heightened need to promote employee well-being and an organization’s financial health, effective internal communication has become more important than ever.

What are the core goals of effective internal communication?

  • Align the workforce in terms of strategy, goals, and values.
  • Ensure all members of an organization understand the common goals (and changes) and, in turn, their roles in helping to achieve goals.
  • Create clarity in roles and responsibilities to help provide a foundation for a strong and cohesive culture of collaboration.
  • Enhance employee engagement to retain employees and promote purpose, pride in one’s work, and a feeling of inclusiveness.
  • Remember, internal communication is not just about making a major organizational announcement. It’s an ongoing, interactive dialogue between employer and employee.

What is leadership’s role in internal communication?

  • Clearly communicate and reinforce the organization’s mission, vision, and goals, as well as changes that impact the organization and its employees.
  • During uncertain times, provide calm leadership.
  • Communicate changes in a clear, credible, and timely manner.
  • Be specific as to “What, When, and, most importantly, Why” things are happening and the impact on the organization and employees.
  • Communicate and build credibility to eliminate negativity associated with rumors.

What is management’s role?

  • Reinforce the organization’s mission, vision, and goals.
  • Clearly communicate business unit goals and directly connect them to the organization’s goals.
  • Reinforce the “What, When, and Why”, associated with changes at the organizational, business unit, and employee level.
  • Clearly articulate individual goals, within the framework of the individual’s impact on and contribution to business unit and overall organizational goals.
  • Listen and ensure the individual employee understands changes and is committed to individual, business unit, and organizational goals.
  • Create a feedback loop and truly listen to employees. “What type of support do they need? What are their observations, challenges, and suggestions? How can their recommendations benefit the organization?”

What is the individual employee’s role?

  • Actively listen to and truly understand organizational goals and changes.
  • Obtain clarity on changes and the impact. Reduce uncertainty (where possible) and stay clear of spreading rumors.
  • Work to control what one can control and remain positive.
  • Provide constructive feedback to managers. Share knowledge that can be used to improve a process or situation.

Best Practices

  • Reduce uncertainty whenever possible. Communicate in a consistent, respectful manner. Connect organizational, business unit, and individual goals.
  • A multifaceted internal communication approach is best. People process and respond to information differently.
  • Find the right balance between not enough information and information overload. When in doubt, over communicate.
  • Strategically use all-employee update sessions. For example, in response to the COVID-19 environment, our Firm, KLR, migrated to weekly (initially), and now bi-weekly, all-employee “town halls”. Sessions include timely, concise, need-to-know information and are kept to 30 minutes. The approach is consistent and thoughtful.
  • Email communication is an important method to share information in a straightforward manner. Headings and bullet points can help to keep the message focused.
  • Internal websites, as well as SharePoint (or similar systems), provide an easy to use information repository.
  • Scheduled group and one-on-one meetings support an effective feedback loop. These should be as interactive as possible, in person or via video conferencing.
  • An “open door” policy is a management imperative, which now requires additional creativity given today’s environment.
  • While a cliché, follow the “Golden Rule” and treat others how you would want to be treated by sharing clear, timely, need-to-know information.
  • Last, find opportunities to thank employees and share successes. Celebrate hard work and tie it back to organizational goals.

Work life may look a little different these days, but the need for strong internal communication remains paramount.

Do you need help putting together an internal communication strategy? Contact KLR Executive Search Group, LLC for guidance.

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