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22 Internal Communication Strategies

        posted by , April 03, 2013

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
~ George Bernard Shaw
Never underestimate the challenges in communicating to your employees.

Communications are ignored and misinterpreted. Even when your message does get across — rejection and resistance are problems.

Internal communication is key to strategy, operations, culture, compliance, innovation and productivity.

The following internal communication strategies may serve to socialize and gain acceptance for critical information and knowledge.

1. Establish Communication Principles

Principles are expectations that are set at the organizational level. They are the basis for your culture.

Communication principles set expectations for socialization of information and knowledge. They are key to achieving communication objectives such as information transparency.

2. Share Information Openly

Privacy and confidentiality is an important consideration for internal communications. However, it's almost always best to be open by default. Candid communication is key to strategy execution and employee engagement.

3. Communicate Quickly To Avoid Rumors

It's extremely common for important announcements to spread by rumor long before the official communication. Rumors are inaccurate and can breed fear and resistance to change. The best defense against rumors is to release information quickly.

4. Communicate Compelling Futures

People like to imagine the future. They like to be part of compelling change. Many firms communication change without highlighting why the planned future is compelling. This is a mistake. Outlining the future wakes people up and encourages them to engage with your strategies and plans.

5. Brand Your Communications

Internal communications can leverage marketing strategies such as branding to improve impact.

6. Socialize Information & Follow Up

Broadcast communications don't have half as much impact as interactive communication. Discuss important communications. Follow up on feedback. Socialization can harden and improve your strategies and plans — action worthy advice.

7. Target Communications

It's worthwhile to tailor your communications for different audiences. For example, executives will appreciate summaries that get to the point.

8. Develop Communication Leaders

Centralized communication is a poor substitute for communication leaders distributed throughout your organization. Develop partnerships with leaders to help socialize information and knowledge.

9. Develop a Culture of Public Speaking

Sponsor forums and public speaking opportunities for employees who want to share information and knowledge.

10. Encourage Open Communication

Establish a culture of open, candid, creative communication. Set the expectation that toxic behavior that shuts down communication isn't acceptable.

11. Develop a Sense of Belonging

A sense of pride in a common purpose and team go a long way to break down communication barriers. Sponsor team building initiatives.

12. Effective Listening & Emotional Intelligence

Support programs that develop & train employees in communication skills such as active listening and emotional intelligence.

13. Manage Conflict

Once you've set the rule that open and fair communication is the expectation — enforce it. Step in to manage conflict or inappropriate behavior.

14. Structure Communication

Facilitate communication with structures such as lunch & learns.

15. Communication & Social Tools

Empower employee communication and socialization of knowledge with communication and social media tools.

16. Avoid Wasting Time

Socializing information is important. However, it's important to balance the need to communication with respect for your employee's busy schedules. Keep meetings short and to the point.

17. Communication Creates Knowledge

Work with your knowledge management practice to capture communication as knowledge.

18. Combine & Connect

Combine and connect communications with knowledge. For example, if you mention technical terms link to explanations.

19. Recognize & Reward Communication

Recognize and reward communication achievements (e.g. leadership in gaining acceptance for strategies).

20. Coordinate Internal & External Communications

If possible, inform your employees well in advance of external releases. Remember that your employees will face questions from customers and partners. Provide guidelines to employees for external communications.

21. Inform Your Organization of the Results of Conversations

Communicate, socialize, action feedback and communicate the results.

22. Celebrate Successes

Do more than communicate successes, celebrate them.

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