After 15 years of working in the field of internal communications/internal marketing, I have realised that companies are just spending more and more money on the critical task of getting their employees to know, believe and understand their business and its objectives.
Yet, after many years of using the same approach, there was clearly something wrong with the recipes being applied. We know the drumming workshops do not work any more, and the long road shows with gorgeous presentations have no lasting effect. The question is, why?
If the communications techniques are not giving us the results we want, then we need to question the message. Very often, the message does not really make sense, says Grace Harding, founder of Grace Consulting.
Here are some common message errors:
* The language is too academic or technical – people cannot relate
* Inherently, the message does not make sense – for example, if you set crazy targets, like 20 000 new customers by 2014, and it is not achievable, people will subconsciously reject the message
* Goals or targets are set without a clear vision of the future. People cannot simply work at achieving numbers without a framework of meaning
* Messages are not made applicable to every single department and role in the company
Communication tactics that are working:
* Roundtable conversations with leaders where employees can ask questions, express their points of view and test their understanding of the message – without feeling like they will be judged
* Frequent and small bites of information that link to the bigger picture
* Internal blogs where employees of all levels can interact
* Focusing on leaders’ communication and engagement skills. Avoid spending vast amounts of
money and energy trying to personally persuade every employee. Work with the leadership team, as those are the people who are influencing your employees every single day. If the leaders don’t get it, the employees never will
Renowned author and business consultant Steve Nicholls has these useful guidelines for implementing successful internal communication, especially when it comes to using social media and the Internet:
1. Create a common language: Train the entire staff and create a common language. Explain how this will help the company achieve its goals and how it pertains to their particular division.
2. Understand your company culture: Culture will define how well your social media projects will do within your company and if you have a closed culture by nature; a transformation towards transparency needs to be made.
3. Create internal social networks: This will bring the company closer together by facilitating formal and informal communication between different departments as well as lower and upper management. Using social networking applications like LinkedIn as a personnel directory is a very good way of finding people in your organisation and looking at what skills or experience they have.
4. Information sharing: Many organisations suffer from lack of information sharing. Creating a platform, such as a DIY Wiki platform, composed of all company-related information – articles, videos and Webinars, among many others – is an excellent way to allow all company members to access valuable company information any time and anywhere.
5. Encourage employee participation: Speaking up in the boardroom can be intimidating for junior staff. Management should encourage staff to offer ideas in a less threatening environment via social media. This gives everyone a voice and may produce a great idea that would have otherwise never surfaced.
6. Collect intelligence: User-generated content via social media is worth its weight in gold…
7. Mobile technology and online project management tools: Taking advantage of new technologies like iPads, smartphones, conferencing tools like Skype and Webex, or project management tools like Wrike and Zoho allow a company to function efficiently from different geographical locations.
8. Don’t forget the risks: There are always risks with every opportunity and these only need to be taken into consideration and mitigated by including them in your model. Those who don’t integrate social media into their business because of risk will be left behind.
9. Have a solid social media policy: Having clear rules and regulations in writing sets the framework of what is acceptable and not when using social media in the workplace. This will protect both the company and the individual and make the whole experience safe and easy.
10. Do not go enthusiastically in the wrong direction: In order to take advantage of social media efficiently, a company needs to have a step-by-step model that will gradually bring the right combinations of social media in the perspective of specific business goals, within the context of your business environment.
For more information, visit www.graceconsulting.co.za or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Grace Consulting on twitter @graceconsultsa.