Struggling to communicate with your employees?
It’s all very well when you’re a startup or a small business with just a few key personnel and employees. Communicating goals and values is easy and natural as you bounce ideas around, work closely together and a create a vision for what you want to achieve. It’s exciting and you’re all on the same page.
But as you start to grow, that vital connection and mutual understanding of who you are as an organisation, what you want to achieve and why, can become diluted. This can be due to many things from the practicalities of not having the tools to communicate on a larger scale to having no clear idea of what, when and how often you should be communicating. But poor communication can be a real barrier to growth and one of the most important things to get right as you start to expand.
Why does good corporate communication matter?
I’ve talked about employee engagement a lot. It’s what makes employees feel valued, enthusiastic and aligned with your company. It’s good for staff retention and it’s good for productivity. It turns your employees into brand ambassadors because they totally get what your company is about, and it creates a healthy and attractive company culture that is attractive to future employees and customers alike. And good internal communication is key to employee engagement.
Apart from employee engagement, good communication is also about processes, and ensuring important information doesn’t get lost, missed or misunderstood. It ensures there is always a joining of the dots and an understanding of both the bigger picture and the detail that goes on underneath. The what, the why and the how. And with the increased emphasis on remote working, good communication is more than important than ever before.
Finally, and very much as part of the above, good, consistent communication is key to building a strong and recognisable brand. You’ve got to nail your messaging, your tone of voice, your corporate personality and style for the outside world as well as for your employees.
As a company grows, there is a lot to focus on. Marketing, sales, logistics, suppliers, finance. The result is that communications can get overlooked, or if not overlooked completely, just not given the attention it requires.
According to research (Haiilo), 60% of companies don’t have a long-term internal communication strategy, 74% of employees have the feeling they are missing out on company news, 72% of employees don’t have a full understanding of the company’s strategy and 29% of employees say that poor internal business communication is the reason for projects to fail. Ouch, that last statistic really hurts.
Apart from not having a comms strategy at all, the most common mistakes include bombarding employees with too much information, a failure to have any communication objectives, only having one way communication (from top to bottom) and a lack of clarity, honesty or authenticity.
Getting your comms right as your business grows
1. Conduct a comms audit
This may be best performed as part of a wider audit that looks at all your processes, strategies and provisions. But an audit is a quick way to identify strengths, weaknesses and gaps.
2. Have a goal orientated strategy
As with any strategy, your comms strategy needs to be backed up with a clear organisational mission, clear company values and integrated with your overall business strategy. If you’re not sure who you are and what you stand for as you grow, you’re going to struggle to engage employees in a really meaningful way. And you also need to be crystal clear on your communication objectives. After all, if you don’t know what you want to achieve with your comms, how are you going to achieve it, or know when you do? Prioritise goals like sharing your company vision and / or hitting targets followed by educational messaging. Ask yourself whether your newer employees really understand what your company values are and whether they know how to communicate with customers in a way that is consistent with your brand.
3. Address all four cornerstones of communication.
Traditionally, corporate communications tended to be downward, from the leadership and or management to the staff. However, it is equally important to ensure and facilitate upward communication from the staff to management. This enables you to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on and makes employees feel valued and heard. Ask yourself honestly, when did you last ask your staff how they feel and then collate and act on that data.
Equally important of course are communications with your customers and suppliers, and internal communications between your staff. This latter area is one that often gets overlooked but is really important. Apart from anything else, the sharing of ideas on an internal communication platform can be inspiring and creative and can great that real sense of community.
4. Embrace technology
There are so many different platforms and Apps these days that can make employee feedback and comms both easy and fun, whilst collecting valuable data for you. From surveys, questionnaires and polls to chat rooms. Technology enables you to schedule and monitor your comms and can help create an atmosphere of transparency and openness.
If any of the above resonates or if you’re trying to grow your business, you may be interested in my kick-starter. It provides both an audit and a focus on doing things right early on in order to minimise costly mistakes, disengagement and leavers. And it includes advice on policies and procedures as well as advice and recommendations about your communications.
If you’d like to know more, give me a call or drop me an email.