We’ve all heard the buzzwords in seminars and read the ‘development’ emails about the importance of internal communication and collaboration. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?
Turns out, it is. In fact, it’s probably even more important than the business ‘guru’ at that seminar told you in his pitch. Internal communication is truly the lifeblood that keeps the heart of modern businesses beating.
First of all, what actually is internal communications? Isn’t it just mass emails and company newsletters?
Absolutely not. While mass they can certainly be part of it, internal communications, or IC, encompasses all information exchange within an organisation. Whether it be ‘water-cooler’ chats, sharing analytics report, or CEO directives.
It is also worth mentioning that collaboration is simply a sub-set of communication. Collaborative exercises in any form are, by definition, based on communication. In this article we will explore the importance of IC as a whole and touch upon collaborative concepts along the way.
On the simplest level of course, every organisation has some degree of internal communications. Even the most basic tasks in a multi-person organisation would be impossible without it. Events, updates, even knowing what time to arrive at the office is only possible through communication. It’s wise for all businesses to invest in software like VoIP to ensure high levels of communication within the company.
Sounds pretty obvious. But sadly, that is about as far as some organisations ever go in thinking about their IC. Thankfully, times are changing and companies of all sizes are increasingly aware of the power of IC, but many still lack a coherent and, crucially, a well-respected internal communications strategy.
Team-building exercises are one of the most well-known ways of improving IC. While a paint balling session against the IT department might not seem like a lesson in how to have a productive conversation, that’s exactly what it is. The whole point is to put people in social situations that encourage them to understand one another’s characters and therefore know how to be able to talk effectively with them when needed.
The ability to communicate effectively within a company is a means to an end. And if the end goal is a more effective organisation, then a strong company culture has to be a step along that path. A company culture is what gives the organisation a direction and allows the individual members of it to move as a single-minded unit towards a common goal.
Take the recent corporate trend for using gender-neutral vocabulary as an example. Companies that are looking to incorporate this new vocabulary and ethic need their employees to fully understand what the new direction is and how they are expected to act, even when unsupervised. Unless the companies had a strong internal communication network they would never be able to effectively implement these micro-adjustments to the way their employees speak and act.
Internal communication as a goal-orientated strategy
If an organisation can manage to create a connection between itself and its individual personnel that is strong enough to alter the way they have spoken for their whole lives, then that connection is strong enough to steer them towards almost any goal. An organisation that can bring its employees together to effectively work towards collective goals will gain a huge advantage over its competitors. Whether this communication is from using the proper business telephone system such as VoIP or how they communicate using the interpersonal communication techniques learned in this section.
All too often, personnel from one department will pursue their own objectives while remaining blindly oblivious to the needs of other departments. For example, the recruitment department’s primary goal may be to earn the highest commissions by hiring the maximum number of people in a short time frame. Ordinarily it might seem logical that they would be financially incentivised to produce the highest output in the shortest time. However, if in their rush to earn the maximum commission they hire people who are ill-suited to the jobs that they will be doing then the recruiters will be inadvertently sabotaging the efforts of other departments. Where an effective internal communications strategy could make all the difference, is in empowering the other departments to raise this complaint to head management who, in turn, could implement a more quality-driven commission structure for the recruiters.
After all, when we watch the best football teams play, we are watching them work as one unit. If the defence, attack and midfield worked independently of one another than the talents of all the individual players would be wasted. But if they are bonded by their communications before and during the game then on the field they can work in unison towards, quite literally, one goal.
Our businesses are no different. Effective communication truly is the cornerstone of collaborative enterprise and the businesses that embrace that are the businesses that can hire the best talent, utilise the best talent and, ultimately, reap the best rewards.