Internal communication seem to be this mystical concept that means very different things to everyone.
For a PR nerd, it is a silver bullet that helps you improve everything about a company. If you are an HR specialist, it is something that reduces the workload. And for management, it is often a tick in a checklist: something that needs to be done to look like a professional and a successful company.
The thing is, they are all correct answers. Internal communication is a wide field that has the potential to solve many problems a company faces. And as it is so wide, it seems there are many different ways to approach it. And that is why most people approach it wrong. Remember, finding a new way to successfully run a business also demands a new way of thinking.
First things first
So, when setting a goal of having an awesome internal communication in your company, your first task is understanding what are the specific needs for your team, people, and company.
The Ultimate Guide to Organizational Communication writes that: “If you want to improve your organization’s communication, you need to start with taking inventory. Figuring out what is currently working and what is not. That requires research and feedback gathering. You can start by doing a survey among the management and employees to find out what they don’t like about how things get done.”
“From there, you can move forward with a more in-depth analysis to find out the needs and pain points of employees and leadership. I usually use focus group interviews for that. The process of gathering feedback will show you what you need to accomplish to get to having a great organizational communication. When you understand how hard the task is, you can move to phase two and set goals for yourself. Answering the question, where do I need to get to.“
Once you have done that, you can start shopping around for a right tool to improve your communications. And this is also a problematic area as there are just way too many applications and softwares out there. Catering to every type of company and solving many different problems. There is no way to find a right one unless you know exactly what you are looking for.
Internal communication and goals
One of the most important aspects of having a good organizational communication, is to have clear, universally understood goals for your company, departments, teams, and employees. Good goal setting on a company level gives purpose to all employees and makes them work harder. And one of the best ways to set goals is the Objective and Key Results (OKR) methodology.
The book “Step by Step Guide to OKRs” says that “OKRs, on a personal, team, and company level make up a system that shows how everything one person does connects to the work of others.”
“If an employee knows that not meeting his goals makes achievements harder for people in other departments, they will want to try harder. When everyone knows how their work matters, it increases overall engagement, motivation, and determination. It’s a psychological effect: no one wants to be the weakest link, so they’ll try harder.”
The structure for OKRs is easy to understand but very hard to get right.
You start by defining 3-5 key objectives on company, team or personal levels. Objectives should be ambitious, qualitative, time bound, and actionable by the person or team. Under each Objective, you can add three to five measurable Key Results. These should be quantifiable, achievable, lead to objective grading and be difficult, but not impossible. OKR results can be based on growth, performance, or engagement. Often they are numerical. They can also show if something is done or undone.
Communication is an ongoing process
Many entrepreneurs like to build teams, improve internal processes, and set up new systems. However, communication is not a system you buy and then hope it will work for years. You need to put effort, time, and money into it every single day. Every week and every month. Only then can you achieve lasting success. This principle is the same for both the PR nerds and HR specialists.
Making these changes a lasting part of the company culture is equally important. No system of organizational communication or culture works unless you and your team work on it day to day. So get out there, and make sure your company’s communication is not sucky.