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Let’s Put Internal Communications Back on the To Do List

Last updated March 19, 2013

I've always been puzzled as to why internal communications always comes at the bottom of the to-do list. I found that many businesses are great at communicating externally but when it comes to internal communications it's just a mess.

How many times is it that the customers are told about promotions, offers or special deals before the staff are told? I've seen it happen - a phone call comes into customer services to place an order under a special offer and the customer services advisor doesn't know about the special offer!

It is clear that internal communications is so often overlooked as a key leadership and management skill. On the other hand management give lots of focus to external communications including PR and social media.

So, with the power of Survey Monkey; here are the results of the CoachSME internal Communication Survey. If you would like to add to the results then here is the link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/35K8MPX  I will be doing another analysis of the results in a months’ time. It shouldn't take you more than a couple of minutes to answer the five quick questions.

On to the results, only one in four companies has an internal communications policy. Perhaps these 25% are the same 25% that have a ‘proactive’ approach to communicating with employees. Let's concentrate on this group first. Internal communications are a "routine" that occurs in these businesses.

Management also encourage their managers "a great deal" to proactively communicate. These one in four also have staff consultation groups, probably indicating that they may have a larger workforce. Strangely though, only 16% see communications as “important” where as half 50% see it as ‘routine’, perhaps indicating that it is not really valued but merely a process to be followed?

Now the 75% that don't have a policy. 42% of them report that internal communications are "reactive" while only 16% see it as "important". The two thirds give a "moderate" encouragement to managers to communicate.

On average each respondent uses three types of media to communicate. 84% use face to face and 75% do it via e-mail. Team meetings come in third with 66% using this method. Newsletters, webinars, seminars and conferences are used in less than 10% of situations.

"As required" frequency is the most common timing for internal communication at 42% and this directly relates to the 42% who have ‘reactive’ internal communication. 33% communicate daily and 25% focus on weekly communications.

Consequently, what does this tell us about how companies view internal communications? Well, bearing in mind that all of your employees are your main sales force, it's a shame that sporadic, ad hoc and impersonal communications are so prolific. 16% of respondents actually delegate the responsibility for internal communication.

Leadership is all about communicating, that's both articulating and listening to your audience. With such high usage of e-mail to communicate and with no structured processes, is it any wonder that so many employees feel disconnected from the business.

This uneven balance can be corrected easily; it just needs to bit of effort. For every external communication that goes out to your clients & prospective clients there should be a matching internal communications piece to your employees so that they, at the very least, know what is going on. Bring these two communication policies together and work them side by side – you’ll be amazed how everybody will be much clearer and focused on achieving the business objectives.

Related Post: Here are 6 tips to help you make internal communications easy!

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Shirley Mansfield
Master Business Problem Solver

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