The poor relation of external comms
Why is it that so many senior executive teams forget to tell their most
important stakeholder about what they are doing? They are all so busy telling
the outside world about their operations, achievements and selling their wares
that they forget to tell their staff what's going on.
They should really tell their employees first and the outside world second. This
is particularly important when there is a contentious issue involved but also
the right or nice thing to do when there's good news to tell.
Employees are the best ambassadors for an organisation. Not surprisingly
companies like Google which is continually named as an employer of choice is
very good telling its employees how important they are to the company's success.
I've worked in a number of large organisations and all of them have been poor
when it comes to internal communication. In a lot of companies it is left to the
HR department to do the telling. Big mistake. In my experience HR is really
great at hiring and firing and okay at training but rarely good at
Internal communication needs to be handled by a dedicated staff member or team.
It's not rocket science but it still requires a person who knows what they are
doing and is dedicated to the cause. A key principle in employee communication
is to "involve and consult" employees rather than "tell and sell".
The CEO or Managing Director is a key person in any employee communication. They
should communicate frequently and in person. They should also be willing to
address challenging questions, listen carefully and deal with the concerns and
respond quickly to sensitive topics.
The CEO needs to talk about the "big picture", the "future" and in broad terms
about how the organisation is progressing when addressing the front line staff.
The vision needs to be clear and consistent.
Internal communication is not a one-way information dump. Capturing feedback is
of critical importance, and if you are not seen to be listening and acting on
what you are told, why should people bother telling you?
The most important thing to remember in any internal communication program is to
focus on the question 'What's in it for me?' Ultimately people want to know how
change within their organisation will affect them. They want to know if their
job is safe, whether they will receive a pay rise, what benefits they will
receive, where their new desk will be located and so on.
Remember it's not hard to communicate with employees. It just takes a bit of