Thursday, 21 November 2013

The conundrum called internal communications

Though we harp about communicating with external audiences, we fall short in communicating well within our organisation and with our colleagues. While communicators disseminate success stories from the field to a wider audience through internet, print and electronic media, the voices within the organisation remain unheard. 

Most of us are glued to internet and social media all the time, but we feel it unnecessary to visit the company intranet. We are busy gossiping about the stars and their tantrums but don't know what our colleague in next cubicle is doing.

Here comes the role of internal communications. Be it through memos, emails, weekly meetings, company e-newsletters, intranet, blogs or informal social gatherings, the conversation has to take place between the employees. 

Efficient internal communication creates an aura of openness in an organisation. Everyone is informed and up-to-date about the happenings within the organisation. Be it a new baby born to a colleague or a major funding awarded to the headquarters. Both the information are equally important to build a better performing team where people trust each other and no one is taken back by surprises.

There are organisations where hierarchy prevails and junior employees fear even to knock the door of their supervisors. However, most organisations are breaking down the barriers and building an environment that allows anyone to talk to anyone. It promotes good relations and team spirit. People feel like they are working as a single team to achieve the goal of the organisation and the organisation turns into a pleasant place to work.

I am impressed by a team of professionals who hike together every Sunday. On the way, they carry their DSLRs, click pictures and post it to the corporate blog. It not only highlights their talents but also encourages others to join them on the next hike. On the way they chat a lot, eat together and sometimes engage in a corporate social responsibility (CSR) stuff. I have seen them emerge much happier after donating stationeries to the underprivileged children in rural schools. In their case, the hike has really broken down the hierarchies and solidified the team spirit.      

It's the age of information and people are hungry for information to excel in their respective jobs. Efficient internal communication improves the effectiveness of an organisation by providing the needed information to the employees on time. Many CEOs post their views on their corporate blogs and employees are free to comment and put forward their suggestions. Hearing from the chief about the recent happenings in the organisation keeps the employees well informed and it creates an environment of trust among them.

Likewise, the monthly e-newsletter about the happenings within the organisation does wonders. Even the weekly all staff meeting keeps people well informed on what each of them are involved in. If the employees are well informed, the organisation has a better chance to respond to a change, crisis or emergencies. It also promotes fairness within the organisation. If everyone has equal access to information and to everyone else, nobody feels that he or she is left out in the decision making process and somebody else is more privileged. Employees feel that they are equal in the eyes of senior management and the jealousy among them is kept at bay.

I have seen brainstorming sessions being organised by companies involving all staff. An organisation benefits by the ideas put forward by its employees. The sparking idea can come even from a cross-cutting staff who has nothing much to do with the programme stuff. It encourages employees to give a voice to their ideas and opinions to take ahead the organisation. They feel proud to be a part of problem-solving team and feel that their opinions and ideas are listened and valued by the management.  

I would never forget the informal gatherings organised by my supervisor. Sometimes, after a hard day's work he used to treat us to a sumptuous meal and few drinks. The informal environment during the dinner and drinks installed helping-each-other spirit more than ever. Our department was recognised as the most efficient and productive department in the organisation and our team the most terrific. We owe this to the occasional gathering.

While talking about internal communications, we should never forget the organisational culture and system of the organisation. There should be some decorum regarding the flow of information. The memos, mails and other types of communication should follow some standards. The company intranet should be an open space where the employees can interact with their far-off colleagues and share their experiences with each other.

I don't think managing internal communications would be a tough nut to crack if we just keep in mind these simple things. Otherwise, as in most of the cases, it would be a conundrum hard to solve for the management.       

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