So, how do you go about creating a culture of more effective internal communication? Here are six best practices we’ve seen from partnering with organizations in almost every industry:
1. Ditch Email for a Project Management or Collaboration Platform
The average office employee receives approximately 121 emails every single day. If email is your primary way of sharing important information or collaborating with your team, messages are likely falling through the cracks.
Email has its benefits, but internal communication is not one of them. If you want to improve communication and collaboration, consider a project management or collaboration tool for teams to communicate with each other.
2. Design Visuals for Important Concepts, Values, or Initiatives
Sixty-five percent of employees are visual learners, according to the Social Science Research Network. If this is true, then communicating important concepts, such as your organizational values or important annual initiatives, might “stick” more effectively when they’re communicated visually.
Rather than distributing a bullet point list of your values or annual goals, find a designer to help you convey that information in an easy-to-digest manner. It will likely have a more lasting impression than text.
3. Don’t Forget to Include What’s In It for Them
Is your staff not reading your memos? Do they forget what you communicated in the last company email? Are they not changing a behavior or practice you wanted to improve? It might be because they didn’t understand how it would help them.
Whenever you’re communicating a critical policy or initiative that requires buy-in from employees, you can’t forget to include what’s in it for them. How will it make their lives better? How will it help them be more effective at their job? These are important questions to consider when communicating with employees.
4. Find a System that Works for Your Team, but Don’t Be Afraid to Tweak It
There’s no “one size fits all” communication process that works for every organization. In fact, different teams within an organization might use different processes to communicate effectively.
Finding a system that works for your team is an essential principle for your managers and team leaders to understand. At the same time, always encourage them to adjust or abandon a system if it starts hurting more than helping. For example, your team might need to conduct a daily 10-minute stand-up meeting while working on an important project. But, don’t host a daily stand-up meeting simply for the sake of hosting it. Instead, focus on sending the right information to the right people at the right time.
5. Set Expectations Prior to Meetings
We’ve all been in meetings that could have easily been an email. It’s one or two important nuggets, and then it devolves into tangents and side conversations. This happens most often when we don’t set expectations prior to getting together. Though it’s important for your employees to connect even on a personal level—especially when working remotely—it’s also important that they walk away from a meeting feeling that their time was well spent and that they have the information they need to do their jobs well.
Try scheduling each meeting with an agenda in mind. Let everyone know what you will be covering, request that they come prepared with updates and questions, and try to keep tangents to a minimum. It helps to have one person leading the meeting, so that they can monitor the flow of the conversation and ensure that all topics are covered appropriately.
6. Make Sure Employees Know They Can Come to You with Questions, Ideas, or Concerns
Having an “open-door policy” is not limited to the physical space. By opening the lines of communication and making sure employees know they can come to their manager or supervisor with questions or concerns, your team members will feel welcome rather than intimidated. Whether you’re a large corporation or a startup, this internal communications practice bridges gaps and helps build receptive, honest relationships between employees.