The Power of Communicating Internally

Most CEOs will not place employee communications in their top list of priorities. However good employee communications can make a significant impact on a company’s performance. Ignore it at your peril.

Now employee communications can mean different things to different leaders. Some leaders are very passionate about ensuring they are personally connected to their workforce, that their views are understood, and that their weekly movements are relayed to the troops. Others are less concerned about their personal musings but are keen to ensure that the company’s positive stories are celebrated.

Some leaders let employee communications become a plaything for whomever shouts the loudest, with the result often being that the important information is lost in the weeds of cake stalls, wedding news and this year’s international day for seagrass (nothing against seagrass I promise you!).

As a leader a simple guide to help you determine whether your company is effectively communicating to employees is to ask yourself whether the activities are helping increase an understanding of its priorities.

Employees need to understand the company’s strategy and what this means for their business unit, their function, their team, and themselves individually. They need to not only understand what are ‘the right things to do’, but as one of my colleague regularly tells me, they need to understand ‘how to do things right’.

This isn’t always easy. For some companies, it means actually translating a story designed for investors or customers into one that is useful to its people. It also can mean some hard work to ensure that leaders across the company are aligned with the strategy, and that what is being communicated tackles challenges or questions that teams may have.

Communicating a company’s strategy and its performance is also not a once-off exercise. It is something that needs to be regularly revisited and cut above the noise.

If done well it will better equip, better prepare, and better align a workforce to deliver on the company’s objectives. If done well it will drive a shared sense of purpose across the organisation, driving greater motivation for individuals to contribute to the company’s success.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t communicate to employees if it is not about the company’s strategy. That’s probably taking it a step to far. But recognise that people today are bombarded by information from every angle, and so just as your communications to investors is focused and considered, be just as strategic in how you talk to your own people. After all, getting it right will contribute to achieving those very things on your priority list.