Today’s workplace is different from what it was decades ago. Tighter security, longer hours, greater workload, and more emphasis on performance are the characteristics of workplace. Employees are increasingly demanding participation in the conversation that are driving organizational change. This participation is vital to keeping employees at all levels of the organization regardless of job role or responsibility, tapped in, fostering a more genuine sense of community in companies large or small. Employees are smarter than senior managers think they are, they have short attention span and long memories and are desperate for direction.
Organizing the Internal Communication Effort
The first thing that any organization must do is to conduct a communication audit in order to assess the effectiveness of a company’s internal communication. Communication Audit is a process of determining what the employees’ attitude is, towards the company. Based on the results of this audit, the communication professionals can assess the effectiveness of the communication program prevailing in the organization and also to design the right program for the same.
Companies can also hire outside consultants to conduct the internal communication audit to if the internal professional are not as effective as they should be, or to identify the strengths and weaknesses prevailing in the company. They can also use in-person interviews, video conferencing facilities etc to make the program more effective.
The internal communication in the organization, through employees’ prospective, can be made effective in the following ways:
Ø Open and honest exchange of information
Ø Clear, easy to understand materials
Ø Timely distribution
Ø Trusted sources
Ø Two way feedback system
Ø Clear demonstration of senior leadership’s interest in employees
Ø Continual improvements in communication
Ø Consistent messaging across sources
Goals for effective internal communications
Ø To explore how companies can organize the function so that it supports the overall mission of the firm
Ø To reinforce employees’ beliefs that they are important assets to the firm
Where should the Internal Communication Report?
Earlier, the Internal Communication was reported to the Human Resource department, but now, the same is being reported to the corporate communication department. Often, both the areas have some involvement with internal communication. In some cases, the companies look outside their own organization for help with the internal communication. It must also work closely with the external communicators to integrate the messages disseminated to both internal and external audience.
Implementing an effective communication program
After the goals of the internal communication are established, they should be implemented effectively. In this section, we will explore the steps in implementation:
· Communicating up and down
The best approach to communicate with employees is through discussions between employees and supervisors. Employees need to feel secure enough in their positions to ask questions and offer advice without fear of reprisals from top management.
· Make time for face to face meetings
Another step to implement an effective communication program is to hold regular, in-person meetings with fairly large group of employees. This ensures that the employees have access to senior management and the management has an opportunity to share with the employees, the company results and progress on key issues and to demonstrate responsiveness to prior employee feedback.
· Communicate Online
Though meeting face-to-face is important, this cannot be done for every small issue. During such occasions, the management can use other modes of communication like using internet, intranet, blogs, social networking sites, etc so that the companies can reach its employees quickly and broadly with important news on events and key initiatives.
· Create Employee-Oriented Publications
In addition to face to face meeting and online communication, the companies should also think of other ways to make the internal communication effective. They can also create employee oriented publications to prevent employees without email access from being marginalized.
· Other steps
The other steps that can be taken include communicating visually, through televisions and computers as opposed to newspapers. They should focus on internal branding which is important to build morale and create a workplace where employees are engaged with their jobs. Last but not the least; they should not neglect the importance of their informal counterparts. Grapevine is an informal communications network including everything from private conversations between two employees to the latest anecdotes shared in the cafeteria.
With all the sophisticated technology available to communicate with employees, the most important factor in internal communication begins with the manager who has a basic responsibility to his or her employees. Understanding this fact is the cornerstone of an effective internal communications program.
In addition to the regular meetings, IBM in India, conducts meeting once in 6 months outside the firm like in a picnic spot, resort or any other exciting places. This is also one of the greatest ways of getting close to employees, to listen to them and also to maintain good relations with the employees. It also increases the informal communication among employees as well as between the senior management and the employees.