Inadequate communication is still in the top 3 of frustrations and problems arising from employee surveys, engagement studies and communication audits. This is not surprising when we see that in many companies internal communication is still regarded as the task and responsibility of the communications department, if it exists, or of HR, and is managed centrally.
However, in a rapidly evolving world where flexible organisational structures and continuous change projects are becoming a constant, a centralised internal communication model is not sufficient to drive evolutions and build corporate culture.
The level of performance of an organisation depends on the management’s ability to establish sustainable cooperation with its employees through productive, effective and efficient relationships. These relationships inevitably fall apart and need to be rebuilt over and over again. It is therefore the core task of management to understand the interactions within its team and to manage them on a daily basis to ensure that each employee can get the best out of themselves.
Internal communication therefore becomes a skill that cannot be separated from leadership and management.
Communication skills are not innate.
Apart from a few innate talents, we find that managers are unable or poorly able to use their communication effectively. Not because they don’t want to, but rather because they act from their gut feeling, which is rarely sustainable. Although it sounds easy, communication is the biggest challenge for most managers.
Examples of gut feeling management:
- Assume that employees like the strategy if few questions are asked during its slide presentation.
- assume that everyone at least understands the message(s), if no questions are asked
- 1-on-1 conversations with employees, outside the (semi-) annual performance appraisals, experienced as a waste of time due to a lack of expertise in conducting valuable bilateral conversations.
- Selling a change project as an assignment from the management that cannot be escaped in the hope that the employees will accept and carry it out as a matter of course
- Consider absenteeism and high staff turnover in their own department as a problem to be solved by HR.
- think that slide shows can replace interpersonal communication
- waver difficult questions asked by employees to senior management levels instead of taking responsibility for providing the answers themselves.
Dealing with interactions, the main task of each manager.
Internal communication stands and falls with the intensity at which interactions between people, people and structures such as new technology, people and ideas such as a new vision or culture, are steered.
Examples of dealing effectively with interactions:
- Regular one-on-one meetings are scheduled with each employee in which 80% of the time is spent on how the employee perceives his/her work.
- Discussions with employees are recorded and followed up in detail. In this way, a manager knows perfectly well what someone said months ago.
- The manager knows his people well and speaks to them when he suspects that there is a problem.
- The introduction of new technology is planned on a tailor-made basis for each employee with the possibility that some may need more coaching and training than others.
- New projects are finalised with the team before they are implemented, taking into account the input of the team.
- Management assignments are seen as an opportunity to prove what their own team can do.
This cannot be achieved at all with traditional internal communication methods, channels and tools.
“Take care of your people”.
Our experience shows that managers can fulfil their communication role perfectly if they are given tailor-made training in management and communication skills. After all, we are not only talking about communication techniques here, but especially about the way a manager understands and directs the interactions in his team. Our motto is clear: take care of your people, they will take care of the machines, the products, the services and the customers.
Does internal communication still have a role to play?
In the future, internal communication will have to assist management even more in creating and managing interactions. In doing so, 20% of the communication will be managed centrally, in order to create coherence in the organisation. The remaining 80% of internal communication will be integrated into line management, at the level of interactions, where the results will ultimately be achieved.