Internal Communication Oversights That Can Be Avoided
By Himaan Chatterji
Internal Communication Oversights are the bane of any manager. Just like you’d come home and find that ‘all of you’ thought the other one would be making dinner tonight.
A situation you’d like to avoid as much and often as possible, that’s clear.
With so many things to do, anyone can overlook something at any time.
Among all the regular tasks of a manager, we’ll look at a couple of specific areas where ‘not to fail’ is a most significant advantage.
Not doing so could slide into challenging situations, sometimes with severe consequences, maybe even as far-reaching as the end customer and profit.
Then why not spend more time controlling this vital aspect to stay ahead of the curve.
The most noticed oversights considering internal communications are:
- Information Obesity and Density
- Alienating team members
- Recognizing severity (leading to opportunity cost loss, legal consequences)
- Poor Follow Up Phase
How dire is the problem, though?
To quote the CEO of Gallup, Jim Clifton, from the Gallup State of the American Workplace report…
“Like Six Sigma and lean management before it, this transformation [read on] will lead to historic bursts in productivity and will change your organization, America, and the world.”
- A staggering 16% of employees are actively disengaged!
- It also states that a mere one-third of the employees are actively engaged at work, and the rest, which is a mind-blowing 51%, are… ‘just there.’
- The bottom line is that 67% of the workforce is NOT actively engaged in performing better at work.
NOTE: Gallup developed “State of the American Workplace” using data collected from more than 195,600 U.S. employees via the Gallup Panel and Gallup Daily tracking in 2015 and 2016, and more than 31 million respondents through Gallup’s Q12 Client Database.
These are seriously worrying numbers if you ask me.
Since we have established the severity of the problem at hand, let’s move on to
Internal communication oversights that should be omitted and why.
Organizations have to adapt to the evolving needs of the modern workforce, or they will find themselves struggling to attract and keep great employees and, therefore, customers.
- Not keeping it Simple, Structured.
Not following a concise structure could lead to the information being missed and/or not retained by the reader. This translates to information being dense.
- After one hour, people retain less than half of the information presented.
- After one day, people forget more than 70 percent of what was taught in training.
- After six days, people forget 75 percent of the information even of their training.
“Forgetting is just the learner’s fault” would say no successful manager ever.
The mode and method of the presentation of information can either hinder or spur memory. People often forget because it was never actually learned in the first place, whether their gnat-sized attention spans or unclear messages are to blame.
This causes employer-employee unhappiness, which consequently leads to hurdles in achieving targets.
How do we tackle this problem?
- Use infographics instead of plain paragraphs where possible.
Use infographics or explainer videos instead of plain text where possible.
By creating infographics using data visualization tools or using an HR video template, you can deliver helpful information to your team members in a playful way and guarantee their devoted attention.
- Repeat important information at least thrice.
Just like in marketing, returning messages generate a higher retention rate. If we look at employees as company consumers, we need to approach them similarly and sincerely.
- Have two-way communication with simple surveys/ quizzes.
To promote the reader’s interest and increase engagement. Not only to learn how many people read the information, they are part of the solution. You can engage readers with a quiz or test. It’s a playful, entertaining way to communicate with each other and learn how much/which information readers retain.
- Use consistent structure and formatting.
So the readers know where to find information if they need to go back to it. Digital asset managers or file organizers will come in handy to you here—nothing more confusing than a ‘different voice’ with every newsletter.
Make sure one person is assigned responsibility, possibly even a designer, who tends to look more from that perspective: Readability, Likeability, and of course, Click Rates.
- Use offline communication tools like SMS and IMs to increase open rates.
SMS and Instant Messages (cellular and not internet) have a staggering open rate of 90% (most of it under 3 seconds). So use this facility to minimize the more vast information and give your employees a sneak peek.
2. Not increasing employee engagement beyond the scope of work.
Better internal communications do not only give employees a stronger sense of belonging, but it also allows leaders to stay in touch better with their team.
Internal communications are the springboard to successful external communication and thus overall revenue.
We must optimize these as much and early as possible. The overall feeling about their workplace, employer, and their colleagues and even as far as their future at the company is at stake!
Don’t believe me. Here are some stats from Nick Jordan of Contentdistribution.com
Increasing internal communication directly corresponds to the company hitting its targets.
Despite the informal character of internal communications, it is recommended to make a substantial change (or mindset) in the organization. Team-building activities are a great channel to start focusing your efforts.
Often we see that internal vs. external communications vary a lot with concern to how much attention is given to them and.. how much people feel responsible for that.
How do we promote open internal communication?
- Design and deliver multiple yet simple to use modes of communication including visual communication.
- Take regular surveys and integrate responsibility structures into the company culture and ethics.
- Approach performance management in ways that motivate employees offer benefits/perks that attract and increase retention.
- Allow more flexible on-office hours or stimulate more working from home. While still maintaining strong communication lines.
- Build upon personal responsibility and shared responsibilities.
- Improve clarity and communication for employees who work on multiple teams.
3. Not stressing the severity or consequences.
No longer can any responsible leader or employee be passive bystanders. No longer can anyone point fingers.
Inherent to the word team, you know.
Instead, we need to take charge of the situation to transform ourselves into active participants and ’our job’ into an exceptional workplace, one of respect and mutual trust.
Do we remember The Volkswagen emissions scandal, also known as Dieselgate?
So far, 3 CXO’s have resigned or been suspended, even charged with fraud and conspiracy.
So far, cost: $33.3 billion in fines, penalties, financial settlements, and buyback costs.
The EU is still to follow (where most of the involved vehicles are located).
And the stock fell one-third within the first days after the scandal surfaced, of course.
Astonishingly, Volkswagen had a much higher brand image amongst its employees compared to all rival companies just before the crisis hit in.
All employees closely related to the fault were summoned and questioned beyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps all were asking the same one question.,
Who is at fault?
Was it an executive decision to go ahead with the non-compliant parts while they were warned by the engineers, or did the engineers themselves hide facts?
Per the company’s defense, as it has gone to great lengths to try and ‘communicate,’ the engineers were solely to blame for the deceit!
Leaving damaged not only consumer trust but also the relationship with their ‘scapegoat employees’ heavily impacted.
How do we try to minimize such occurrences?
Neuro-linguistic programming might be a great place to start. NLP is no rocket science; it uses everyday language but in a very intended way to suggest something to the mind.
NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder of the University of California to treat mental illnesses.
The art of neuro-linguistic programming uses language that subtly sways the audience to do things they otherwise have not done.
4. Not following up on what’s going down.
Here you are, with freshly implemented cultural ramifications, improved modes of communication, and even timely social meet-ups.
But your efforts need to be translated into numbers to justify whether or not the whole internal communication improvement strategy is heading in the right direction.
According to the Using Internal Communication to Move the Business Needle case study, apt follow-ups lead to a better relationship between employer and employee.
You give them a better overall feeling about the two-way relationship, with an increased sense of worth and appreciation.
How do we follow up?
By asking yourself and your sample space these few questions concerning the changes implemented…
- Has the organization been acclimatized?
- Is it functioning and being utilized to the fullest?
- Is it able to deliver acceptable levels of benefits? (quality, quantity, convenience, continuity)
- Will it continue to perform at total capacity throughout the defined period?
- How promptly do we get employees on board?
- Is it, in any way, affecting the environment negatively?
- Who is responsible for quality control?
Improving internal communications by implementing new standards, culture and tools is a whole project.
Hence, project tracking tools can help you cut the administrative and reporting time tenfold and help you channel your energy more effectively towards decision making.
Do not implement all changes in a single day!
To improve the overall resilience position and to support critical customer services sometimes you have to start all over.
But making all changes that you have planned at once has its drawbacks.
- You cannot backtrack which changes are actually providing more results.
- Employees could possibly not adopt all changes and might be too overwhelmed.
- Excessive time would be consumed to propagate a simple idea.
Try going easy on the implementation, monitor carefully and accurately, get feedback on the new methods, and keep improving!