Lynn Manternach/Tree Full of Owls
Internal communications can be a challenge for growing companies. When businesses reach a certain size, it’s not uncommon to run into communication roadblocks.
Connecting the dots on many levels is important is rapidly growing companies. Those who were part of the company from the beginning remember when communication was easy, because there were only a handful of people making things happen.
As success fuels growth, more people mean more dots need to be connected to ensure a unified sense of purpose and focus. That unified purpose is the core of your brand, and critical to the company’s ongoing success.
As companies grow, employees are typically spread out across numerous departments, and tend to focus on their own projects. They may have little to no direct contact with others in the company. Despite this, they want to know what’s going on with others in the company.
Another common roadblock is that department managers don’t always communicate in the same manner. Some convey corporate messages, while others don’t. As a result, some employees are in the know, while others aren’t. This can lead to “water cooler” conversations that are rampant with rumors and frustration.
As a business owner, you can’t assume everyone talks to each other. It’s up to you to control the message and ensure it reaches all employees in a consistent manner.
Research shows employees prefer to hear operational change information concerning their day-to-day jobs from their direct supervisor, but want information related to company strategy and financial results from higher-level people.
All levels of management need to be prepared to communicate the big picture, as well as how it impacts all levels of the company. Employees need to understand how they fit in and what is expected of them within that big picture perspective.
Each organization has its own unique challenges when it comes to internal communication, and each unique challenge has its own unique solution. Don’t be afraid to get creative when choosing your tactics.
Whether it’s once a week, or once a month, a meeting with your entire staff can be a highly effective way to share news and announcements with everyone. Face-to-face meetings allow for the discussion of sensitive issues that require more subtlety because the use of body language and other social conventions are visible. It also allows you to get feedback from your audience.
These types of meetings are also a great setting for all departments to share news about what they have accomplished since the last meeting. This will give your team a chance to share in each other’s successes.
E-mail or e-mail newsletter
The advantage of disseminating information via e-mail is that there is less room for misinterpretation and it eats up less time. As such, an internal newsletter can be an ideal way to communicate information such as new staff, changes in policies and procedures, program updates and organizational developments. In addition, the newsletter could run a column from your president or CEO and be used to recognize staff contributions.
Ask each department to provide you with update on news and developments to share in the e-mail update. Be wary of relying only on e-mail to communicate important messages. This tactic should be a supplement to other in-person approaches.
Happy hours, lunch meeting and other outings
Social activities can have as much impact on your organizational culture as any formal meeting. These types of gatherings can build team spirit, increase morale, and deepen the connection between the staff. Some options to consider are:
- Birthday celebrations: Let everyone take a half hour break in the afternoon and enjoy some cake!
- Potlucks: Each staff member brings a different dish to share at lunchtime. This can also be a good opportunity to learn about the culture of your colleagues through their different culinary dishes.
- Happy hour events: Invite your team to meet for a drink and snacks at a local café or restaurant at the end of the day on Friday.
A rapidly-growing company has to do many things well to fuel continued growth. Effective internal communications make that growth more possible by keeping all employees engaged, motivated and focused on the big picture.