Why is internal communication so important?
Today, as things continue to move forward with advances in technology, one can see the ability to expand their business further. However, with this comes the challenge of effective communication. That said, an increasing number of businesses are using real-time communication with their customers (e.g. mobile updates as services are performed at homes, work orders completed via tablet at the worksite and e-mailed to the owner). In fact, this author has started to see installers use videotelephony services on-site to layout a pool when the homeowner could not be there.
With all of these external changes, it is important to keep up with internal communications as well. The goal remains the same; to provide effective and timely delivery of important information to those who need to be in the know within an organization. That said, one is confronted with many means to deliver this communication—between e-mail, text, group chats, and interactive group platforms that provide a visual overview of what is being worked on and who is working on it—it is easy to become overwhelmed when trying to choose the best method or bogged down when attempting to use them all. Employees should still be allowed to present their ideas and thoughts, not just trying to merely keep up on multiple means of communication.
The main focus on finding an internal communication tool that works for everyone should be based on what the company is looking to achieve. For example, what are the specific challenges that are currently being experienced and what would help relieve some of this stress? It was only a few years ago that this author would suggest weekly internal newsletters or e-mails as an effective method to deliver a message. Today, however, people expect everything in real-time and it is almost unimaginable for employees to wait an entire week to be updated on what is happening throughout the organization. Businesses want to be sure its internal communication method is immediate and can be measured to know it is working. Further, it is needed to be accessible on the go.
Depending on the age and longevity of employees, some businesses may see some resistance to change. Therefore, it is important to engage with those who are uncomfortable and ask for their feedback on what effective internal communication looks like to them. For example, if a company’s liner replacement installer has been completing jobs off of a work order for the past 35 years, handing them a smartphone and saying everything will now be relayed to them in an app may not be well-received. Instead, having a conversation with the installer on how these changes will help them perform their job more efficiently and getting their take on the best way to implement them will prove to be much more helpful to ensure a smooth transition.
One of the most common mistakes some businesses make in regards to internal communication is relaying information from the top down. While the idea of hierarchies is an important one (remember the importance of organizational charts discussed earlier), using the ‘trickle-down’ approach can often lead to delays, limited feedback, and miscommunication. It can be likened to playing the ‘telephone’ game and how different the end player’s message was compared to what was said at the start of the game. While plenty of information may be going out, owners/managers need to be sure it is reaching the people who need it most—those who are actually doing the work.