Monday, 19 December 2011

Don't be afraid to talk to your staff!

I work with social businesses, charities and commercial organisations and spend a good deal of time looking at positioning, messaging and creating dialogue with both internal and external audiences.

In my experience all organisations face the same issues when it comes to internal communication with some exhibiting elements of good practice, but mostly it's hit and miss.

Information sharing tends to be ad hoc and operational or undertaken as a “new initiative”, rather than part of the company ethos. It tends to be untargeted and not always relevant to what staff want to know.

Any internal communication needs to ensure employees participate in information creation, receive and assimilate information easily and have the ability to share messages peer-to-peer. The long term trends have moved from “tell and sell” to “consult and involve” - from high reach, low effectiveness channels (email, print) to low reach and high effectiveness channels - 2007 McKinsey and Coy.

In addition most organisations are missing a huge trick by not adopting a more "engagement" approach, especially with front line staff. Employees and volunteers often have a better handle on customers and organisational issues than management teams and are better placed to solve these issues. Actually involving front line staff in decision making and giving them opportunities to influence improves business performance, motivation and customer experience.

Ultimately any internal communication should seek to develop an on-going dialogue with staff, rather than be seen as a communication "initiative". And to do it well organisations need to commit appropriate time and resources at all levels in the organisation.

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