The Importance of Internal Communication
Communication is at the heart of any organization. It’s about more than presenting products and services — it’s how a business shares its voice, its brand and its story with the world. Significant time, thought and money are invested in external communication, influencing public perception and controlling public voice, but what is frequently overlooked or sidelined is internal communication, even though it is just as important.
Internal communication encompasses everything from functional items like official processes, guidelines and procedures — getting employees the information they need to do their jobs — to inspirational items like mission statements, company values, and voice guidelines — getting employees the information they need to participate as part of the team.
It is important that organizations foster an atmosphere of openness, creating systems that will lead to the free and effective flow of information, ideas, various resources and even feelings to promote a sense of shared purpose. An excellent internal communication strategy can unite and inspire members at all levels of an organization. This comes with many advantages, such as employees who are:
- Informed – Having complete, timely information makes everyone more effective and efficient.
- Confident – With the right resources, employees are empowered to succeed.
- Inspired – When employees understand and believe in the company’s mission, they are inspired to work harder and achieve more.
- Team players – Providing consistent access to information encourages teamwork at all levels.
- Sharing a common vision – When colleagues work toward a common goal, they experience greater investment and fulfillment in their work.
- On message – A brand’s voice is more effective and powerful when every employee is trained to use it and inspired to be an advocate.
- Supported – Employees can work with confidence and creativity when they feel supported by their colleagues and superiors.
- Given useful feedback – The ability to improve and adapt — both as individuals and as a company — is vital to growth.
- Respected and respectful – Communication is most effective when it’s done with care and consideration.
- Willing to take ownership – Employees who fully understand their company are more likely to take ownership of its growth and success.
- Responsive to change –Investing in resources to promote awareness and buy-in will make each business change more successful.
Left to chance, internal communication becomes irregular and inconsistent. The consequences of neglecting these efforts have debilitating effects, including:
- Gossip and speculation – When communication is not managed well, employees will fill in the blanks for themselves, often with worst-case scenarios, which leads to…
- Stress and fear – Changes that aren’t communicated properly can easily lead to confusion, anxiety and job insecurity.
- Territorialism – If information is rationed out in meager portions, people are much more likely to guard their share.
- Confusion – If a message is delivered inconsistently among employees or departments, the results can be chaotic.
- Ineffectiveness – Employees who don’t believe in the mission of an organization will be unlikely to see it through, just as employees who don’t understand the goal of a project will be unable to adequately complete it.
- Inefficiency – If a team begins a project without having all the information they need, time is wasted and trust is squandered.
- Lack of ownership – Having incomplete information diminishes one’s ability to take ownership both of individual projects and of the mission of a company as a whole.
- Off-message employees – If employees do not fully understand and embrace their brand, the message they present to the public will be ineffective.
- Isolation – When communication fails between departments and individuals, teamwork is hindered and resentment can develop.
- Resistance to change – If employees are not properly informed and supported through business changes, the results can be chaotic and even catastrophic.
Here at GO2, we understand the importance of internal communication. Recently, we created a comprehensive Intranet site to help strengthen communication for Comcast Business sales representatives. Housing an asset management and search tool, educational materials, product and customer strategies and an offer lookup tool, the Intranet, dubbed Nucleus, provides a single place for crucial information. We performed research to determine everything for the site — environmental context, user personas, task and process flow, site organization and user interface. And we didn’t stop there. We were sure to include training tactics and engagement elements, including plans for pre-launch, launch and post-launch.
Taking this concept a step further, the GO2 team also created a site called VITL for Sherwin-Williams. We created VITL for representatives who rely entirely on iPhones, iPads or laptops as they work remotely. The site houses the sell sheets and data sheets representatives need to access on a daily basis. Before VITL, these sheets were scattered across various Sherwin-Williams sites. Now, representatives can access them in one location in less than three clicks.
Internal communication strategies, especially within a large organization, can present a number of complex challenges. GO2 can help bring order to chaos, getting employees the information they need in a way that’s understandable, inspirational and supportive of your organization’s mission.