|Fixing Internal Communication|
|Written by Abel Nyarangi|
|Sunday, 03 June 2012 06:37|
Recent studies have revealed that it is very difficult for companies to convey messages to their employees. Companies that have many employees are more affected by this scenario. HR leaders and senior executives have noted that channeling the right information to the right people at the right time is posing great challenges. It is evident that employees engaging in communication among them are more challenging than communicating with partners, customers or even investors.
So who should be blamed for this menace? If you are an employee in a company you may come to discover that the companies are their own enemies when it comes to disseminating information to employees. The information can be everything including marketplace strategy, company holidays and more. The following are some of the reasons why companies fail in internal communication.
Too Many Messages
In most companies employees are fed with official messages daily. They are bombarded with lots of information including policy or statements of strategy and even IT alerts. The messages become too much and therefore employees ignore them. Employees end up deleting the messages even before reading them. The main reason why employees delete them is because they do not realize any value in them. Most emails therefore end up being deleted and therefore the message is not conveyed as intended.In most cases there is nobody assigned the duty of prioritizing or editing messages? Most companies lack contact strategy that determines he number of contacts to be contacted in order for communication to effective. It is quite unfortunate that most organizations do not have a publishing calendar in place. A publishing calendar enables employees to understand and know what kind of information they can expect on a given day.
A recent survey conducted noted that majority of the corporate messages have one flavor and text. It is important to note that a given message is not likely to be applicable to every business, but becomes quite easier to blast the messages to the whole company than to make variations that are based on receptivity or relevance.
It is quite interesting to note that the finance people love an effective internal communication process and prefer getting their information in different and distinct from that of engineers or sales team. It is quite frustrating that though the differences are known, nobody is willing to transmit or craft employee or internal messages.
The same applies with the data-centric companies that are not interested in sorting employees on basis of relevant facts. What about people who have different opinions or using different medium channels? Since everyone gets the messages in the same manner and most of the times the same message with no alterations whatsoever. This makes the messages to be ignored.
There are No Priorities
When it comes to internal communication everything should be the top priority. Only a small portion of companies are using different fonts or names to create a distinction between the really important messages and the routine information. This creates a situation where everything is very important and nothing is really is important. This makes the employees to treat the corporate messages just like a kid crying. This can be evidenced as information about pricing or creation of new product gets the same attention and weight as service anniversaries, birthdays and bake sales.
Too Much Spin
Many companies are ignoring the reservoir of goodwill, need for belonging and willingness to believe that exists among their work force. In a litigious, spin-doctored and over-regulated environment, the leadership rarely communicates straight to file and rank. In this case every word is processed and then the result is made transparent and most of the time it is instantly discredited by people who are aware of what is happening. Such people come to work daily, care much and pay attention more than you may think.
In internal communication many stakeholders do not really believe that “re-engineering” and “right sizing” benefits is good for them. Most employees are aware of the product and services that are hits and ones that are misses even before the official announcement. This creates interplay of politics, personalities and politics within an organization. Employees are the ones who inevitably bear the burdens and also implement changes. If that is the case, then why isn’t there more of the straight talk among themselves.
One of the reasons for the above situation is that the leadership feels that it should process the internal messaging in order to protect its security and also avoid a potential claim that can arise from “insider” trading. This is what is said, but there are few real secrets other than timing and intentions. Most of the reasons are with the employees who have already shown interest on the future of their companies.
Every company has people who have tenure or credibility of informally connecting people to others. They are usually employees have been in a company and have lived through a thousand policy changes. They can help you know how the stuff works, help you with expediting your taxes and have friends and information sources spread that are spread across the company.
These forms of internal communication though informal have more credibility than the official networks. Quite interesting is that the neural networks are usually interconnected and easily trump the official communication system networks.
A company can change the course of such scenarios by applying the techniques used in online marketing and then making a way for their applications in internal communication. The following steps if undertaken can greatly change the course of internal communication:
There is a need to separate people to different groups and send those relevant messages rather than sending the same messages to everyone. Another way is building different lists. The same message can be wrote in different versions and thereby present information in different ways. The groups can be based on rank or work assignment, location and more.
It is evident that people prefer to get messages they anticipate and thus pay more attention to. This is no different in internal communication.
Using Different formats
Different headers, formats and copy can bring out the import, urgency and significance of the message. This will increase attention, open rates and awareness.