As a business owner, you dedicate much of your time to communicating with your clients. While this is crucial for your business, equally important is communicating with your employees. Internal communication touches every aspect of your business from announcing the onboarding of a new client, to introducing a new product to your business line. No matter the size, industry, or type of company you own, I recommend having an internal communications process embedded in everything you do.
An internal communications process allows for the exchange of information between all members of your organization, which will save you time and money. In fact, companies with effective internal communications processes experience 47% higher total returns than those that are not effective at communicating.
I’ve outlined below 3 key elements to help you establish an effective internal communications process.
- Have the Right Mechanisms in Place to Keep Employees Informed
Your internal communication mechanisms must be strategic, in order to be targeted and the most beneficial. Consider your company’s current mechanisms, from the methods of communication it uses, to the way your company engages with and seeks feedback from your staff, to the way it measures if the mechanism is successful and identifies any issues for future change.
Choosing what mechanisms to use depends on your size and budget. If your company has multiple locations, you may decide to invest in passive, large-scale communication options to disseminate information. Creating an intranet (a private network only available to a company’s staff) is one great option. If your business is smaller, consider using more conventional communication channels such as an internal newsletter, e-blast, Director’s blog, or notice board. I have even seen some companies benefit from using social networking sites as their primary means of internal communication. More directed options could include Breakfast Briefs for front-line staff, a monthly Director Communications Day, scheduled Director Q&A drop-ins, or Lunch & Learns.
No matter what mechanism(s) you choose, the bottom line is that employees have access to a platform where they can receive important company information so they stay abreast of the information they need to do their job.
- Creating a Two-Way Loop
Having great communication mechanisms in place is vital, but ensuring that they consistently generate engagement between management and employees is a key step. It is imperative that business owners and managers actively respond to feedback received and ensure a loop is created, as opposed to a top-down form of communication. By acting on the honest feedback reported by employees encourages more of the same – staff telling it “like it is”.
- Measuring the Mechanisms
To ensure that the communication mechanisms you choose are working effectively, incorporating measurement indicators, such as scheduled weekly face-to-face meetings with actionable items reported for follow-up, anonymous employee surveys offered at quarterly or annual company all-staff meetings, or through specific activity surveys through the intranet, could help identify gaps, what is or isn’t working, and what methods of communication work best for your employees.
Regardless of which avenues you choose, the main goal is to ensure employees have several effective paths available to them where they can communicate with senior management and feel heard.
Communicating with your employees is essential for the productivity of your business. Does your company have an internal communications process in place?
When it comes to seeing continued success in your business, you must keep growing, changing and making improvements. Many of these changes are slow and could require years to see the results of your work, such as a long-term financial or marketing strategy. There are some things you can start implementing today, however, that can improve your business and allow you to take a proactive approach to problems that may be obstacles to your success.
Take charge of your bookkeeping: Oftentimes, a lack of organization in your finances can become a root cause of a cash flow and budgeting issues. Finances can sometimes overwhelm a business-owner, especially for a smaller operation. When you fully own your bookkeeping and are intimately familiar with your budget, you can make decisions based on a full understanding of your financial situation. When working with your outside help, make sure you are constantly in the loop and up to date on everything they’re doing.
Make customer service your main priority: When was the last point of contact with your clients? Did you reach out with a phone-call or email? When was the last time you called a client just to check in? When you make customer service your main priority, your clients feel valued and want to continue working with you. They will share their experiences and this indirectly improves the value of your business. If something goes wrong – a communication error, less than amazing service, etc.- make it right by offering a discount or a free service, and an apology.
Avoid customer service mishaps by streamlining processes and having clear instructions: Oftentimes, customer service issues arise when instructions and processes are unclear, such as payment requirements, service details or deadlines. Ensure that you make your expectations and processes clear on the front end (in writing, on your website, in a contract) so that you do not have to remedy a situation with a confused and disgruntled customer later.
Have a plan for unforeseen circumstances: Spend some time taking inventory of the activities and materials that are vital to your business (even something as simple as Internet, databases, telephone, etc.) and then devising a plan of action to address any obstacles to continuing business as usual. This can save you time and money if and when a “disaster” strikes your business. Check out this blog post to learn how to create a Business Resumption Plan for your business.
Increase employee engagement: Your employees can become your biggest assets as brand advocates. Encourage them to be involved the business as much as possible, either by referring to them for their opinion, recognizing jobs well done, and encouraging a positive, social environment. When your employees believe in your message, this comes across to your potential clients. A happy employee is a productive one!
As you can see with this list of suggestions, you do not have to wait years or break the bank to see improvements in your business. What other tactics can you think of that can improve your business now? I look forward to your thoughts below.