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Internal communication is a gateway to better performance as a team. With better communication, you’ll have fewer opportunities for misunderstandings and duplicated efforts. You’ll have a clearer picture of your goals and priorities as a team. You’ll reduce conflicts and resolve them more efficiently. And you’ll even collect and implement feedback more effectively.
Of course, internal communication is an elusive area of improvement for many companies. There’s no switch you can flip to instantly improve communication. Instead, it takes months of consistent effort to make a positive change. Even then, some improvements can only be evaluated subjectively.
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That said, there are many strategies that can help you improve your internal communications.
Invest in the Right Intranet Solutions
Your organization’s intranet is a suite of tools, systems, and solutions designed to make internal communication and collaboration easier. With the right network in place, your employees will have all the communication channels they need to easily reach each other. Moreover, they will have tools to work on files collaboratively and ample opportunities to share information in other ways. There are many intranet solution providers out there. So choose a system that’s secure, intuitive, and comprehensively functional if you want your team to succeed.
Establish Clear Roles
Some miscommunications stem from role confusion. For example, a manager may fail to provide all the information necessary for an employee to begin a project. Or the manager may overwhelm them with unnecessary details. On the other side of the conversation, an employee may fail to update a manager with important new developments. Or they may relentlessly ask a manager followup questions they should be asking of someone else.
Make it clear who’s accountable for which responsibilities within your organization, and half your internal communication problems will disappear.
Create Protocols for Internal Emails and Written Communications
Written communications can follow certain guidelines that are almost universally capable of improving the quality of internal communications. For example, emails should always have a clear, concise subject line. Moreover, they should be broken down into bulleted or numbered lists for organizational purposes whenever possible. You can also solidify formatting requirements for projects and tasks within your project management platform of choice.
Formally document your recommendations for these types of written communications, and train your employees on using them if necessary. If and when you catch people violating these norms, gently remind them of your set standards.
Plan and Trim Your Meetings to Further Streamline Internal Communications
By some measures, half of all meetings are a waste of time. This is especially problematic considering the number of people who often attend these meetings. You can generally improve the efficiency and communicative potential of meetings by reducing their duration and frequency, and by better planning them.
You can accomplish this with a few important tactics:
- Reduce your number of meetings. The easiest step to take is eliminating meetings that are consistently unproductive or unnecessary. Send an email update instead.
- Reduce the length of meetings. You can also shorten meetings to make them more efficient. Instead of taking a full hour, see if you can achieve the same results in 30 minutes.
- Limit the number of meeting participants. Each meeting participant effectively multiplies the total time waste of a meeting, so trim that number down.
- Set a clear meeting agenda. Before the meeting begins, set a clear meeting agenda. What are you hoping to accomplish? What topics are you going to cover in the meeting? Who is responsible for covering those topics?
Record and Document Everything
Internal communication suffers when conversations are fleeting. It’s much harder to stay accountable to a pledge you made in a passing conversation than it is to fulfill on a contract you physically signed.
You can improve communication and accountability in your organization by recording and documenting everything you can. In other words, create a paper trail for internal communications.
Embrace Personal Feedback
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to communicating, so encourage all your team members to embrace and give personal feedback. Speak up when you feel a message could be relayed more effectively, and be open to hearing feedback about your own communicative shortcomings. Amiably giving and accepting feedback will go a long way toward improving internal communications.
Showcase Good Leadership in Internal Communications
Team members tend to follow the example of their leaders, for better or for worse. So make sure your leaders are exhibiting the traits and habits necessary for effective internal communication. Think of this as a top-down approach. When your managers and supervisors are communicating efficiently with the team, the rest of the team will fall in line.
With better communication tools, habits, and strategies in place, your team will inevitably become more productive. You may even improve morale and team bonding in the process. This is a long-term set of changes, so don’t expect results overnight. As long as you keep pushing for better internal communication habits, you’ll eventually get to a better place.