When it comes to running a successful business and leading people well, communication is one of the single most important factors. Unfortunately, it’s also something that the majority of organizations screw up. As you seek to grow your company this year, be sure to prioritize how you’re communicating.
The Need for Better Internal Communication
When asked whether they think internal communication matters in business, every leader is going to respond in the affirmative. However, most have trouble pinpointing exactly why it matters. But the reality is that it’s more important than ever.
Research shows that 73 percent of employees working at a “purpose-driven” company are highly engaged, compared to just 23 percent of those who don’t. Furthermore, data gathered from a global survey of more than 26,000 professionals has found that 73 percent of people want a career in which they feel like their job matters. A smooth, purposeful internal communications strategy helps employees recognize their purpose and feel as if what they’re doing has value.
Likewise, strong internal communication allows organizations to control the message that is sent to employees. We live in a world where employees in large organizations often learn about important company news via outside sources – which leads to feelings of bitterness, frustration, and betrayal.
According to Staffbase, “The only way to deal with it is by learning to match and even exceed that external speed and to make internal points of view readily available—not just during times of crisis, but also in day-to-day operations.”
Communication also impacts things like production quality, brand consistency, and customer service – all of which combine to impact the bottom line.
4 Ways Your Business Can Improve
Every business has room for improvement in this area. Whether you run a small business or large organization, there are practical steps that can be taken to reduce friction and enhance internal communication. Here are some ideas:
Establish Clear Chain of Command
Many businesses no longer choose to use rigid organizational hierarchies and strict flow charts that show how stakeholders communicate with one another, but it may be time to revert back to some of these principles.
In today’s modern organizations, relaying information can often feel like a business version of the classic “telephone game” that we all remember playing as kids. What starts as a clear message ends up getting misinterpreted and changed a handful of times before getting to the appropriate party. This can be prevented by establishing clear chains of command and always going straight to the source.
Be Smart With Email
We all know someone in a position of leadership – such as a manager, CEO, or team lead – who abuses email. They send dozens of emails a day, CC every possible person, and write long-winded emails that never seem to get to the point. In fact, you may be that person without realizing it.
When you abuse email, you essentially train people to disengage. By practicing smarter email etiquette, you’ll enjoy higher engagement and less frustration. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Improve Feedback Loops
Employee feedback is important, but many leaders mess up the delivery. If you’re going to offer constructive criticism to an employee, you need to provide specific examples and concrete language.
“For example, never simply tell an employee, ‘You haven’t been reliable lately.’ Feedback like this isn’t helpful,” entrepreneur Dana Youngren advises. “Instead, say something like, ‘I’ve noticed you are not hitting deadlines, and there are more errors in your work. Is everything okay?’ This way, your employee knows exactly what the problem is and how to fix it.”
Feedback loops should be studied and evaluated on a continual basis. How you criticize and praise your employees will have a direct impact on motivation, output, and company culture.
Make Sticky Information Accessible
Every business has certain information that all employees need to be familiar with to fulfill the duties of their job title. From an organizational perspective, this sticky information needs to be readily accessible by anyone from anywhere. Help employees by preparing clear employee-facing documentation and putting it in as many places as possible. This will cut back on the frustrating miscommunication that often surrounds basic tasks.
It’s Time to Take Charge
Communication isn’t the easiest topic to discuss, but it’s one that business leaders must take a proactive stance with. There’s no room for sitting back and hoping things will work out. Either you deal with it in a head-on fashion, or key systems and processes will eventually fall apart.