I've worked for organizations that had 40,0000 employees, and I've worked for some that had less than 100. They had different business models, types of employees, and were in very different industries. They had charismatic leaders, and others that struggled on such an epic scale that I helped a number of them to the door.
Despite all of the differences and complexities, every organization shared something very powerful in common.
Each of them struggled with internal communication.
How Is This Possible
We're living in a time when communicating with other people has never been easier. Recently I was carrying on simultaneous conversations with colleagues in the UK and Australia using twitter. Seriously, it was so simple. Gosh, I love twitter.
So if the list of communication tools out there is so abundant, easy to use, and in many cases free, how is it that the story hasn't changed over the years when I speak with employees? --> "we need to improve internal communication."
Tools Don't Matter
We have email, staff meetings, yammer, lync, skype, intranets, social media pages, one-on-one meetings, project teams, work groups, conference calls, and off--site retreats.
These approaches mean nothing.
It turns out that tools are not the reason that organizations struggle with internal communication. It has nothing to do with technology, too many meetings, or hectic travel schedules. Effective internal communication is actually based on one simple concept...
The reality of the world of work is that leaders make the decisions, set expectations, and hold the team accountable. If internal communication is going to improve it will be driven by leadership's commitment to making it happen. But how?
1. Ask your team how they want to be communicated with and do what they say. Don't tell them it's not convenient, or the system 'can't do that' or that it will take too much time.
2. Hold them accountable to actively participate in the communication process. After all, internal communication is a shared responsibility.
Look up from your computer. Do you see the door? Walk through it and start talking to the employees in your organization and ask them what communication channels work best for them. Build your list and implement what you've heard. Remind them that you're doing it and that you fully expect them to do their part too.
How About You
It's about time we looked at internal communication as a leadership responsibility instead of a leadership excuse. Use multiple channels (your team will generate the list for you), and get moving. Don't spare anyone in this process, because every employee matters.
I'd love to hear from you.