Building a healthy culture hinges on a lot. Perhaps one of the most critical ways you can do so is by promoting healthy, transparent communication within your company. Not sure what that looks like? Here are 5 essentials for internal communication success.
Communicate the right things
What do people need to know? Do they wonder about your new business pipeline? Do they have curiosity about your revenue goals? How about your hiring practices? How they're being evaluated in their role? In today’s workplace, employees are interested in more than a paycheck. They want their work to be meaningful and they want to know the company they work for is ethically upright. And although you may not always see eye to eye on everything, being transparent about the right things is a healthy form of communication to your employees.
But how do you know what they want to know? Ask them! At Click Rain, we have multiple avenues for feedback: employees and manager, employees and HR, employees and the CEO, anonymous feedback, identified feedback—it all matters. This is how we hear what people are saying, and what they want to know from us… and then we respond. Closing the feedback loop is a critical step in healthy communication.
Communicate in the right order
Big decisions in your company need to be communicated. Taking into account the items above, it’s also important to consider the right order of communication. Who is most affected and needs to know before others? Communicating with those most affected by day-to-day changes and decisions, before the rest of your team, is a wise step. It communicates that you understand how the change is impacting them the most and also gives you a chance to preemptively answer questions they’ll likely have.
We haven’t always gotten this right at Click Rain, and every time we misstep, I am reminded of how important it is. Thankfully, when your team knows you're trying hard, they tend to give you grace if you miss it. As it turns out, apologizing when you fail to communicate in the right order is also a form of healthy communication.
Communicate by process
Healthy communication goes both ways. As much as we should be communicating to our employees, they should be communicating to us too. But how do you foster that reciprocal communication?
For us, this has taken place in the form of communication processes. We have provided multiple means for employees to communicate. We’ve told them when and how we would expect to hear from them on specific topics, like complaints or innovation. When do you bring up that break room mess? How do we discuss workflow issues? What if our employees are feeling stressed?
Put some processes, meetings, and casual conversations in place—on your calendars and at regular intervals—to allow this feedback to flow freely. Establishing this process of communication helps you identify and solve issues in the right places within your organization. It also creates a mutual place of accountability over communication at all levels and protects us from the ditches of negativity during busy or stressful times, when healthy communication can tend to slip between the cracks.
Communicate with the right intent
Communication has to happen with the right intent. For us, that is through the lens of our purpose: People First. Communication shouldn’t come in another way but from a place of care for your people. If our communication doesn’t match our Core Values and the care we profess for our people, we just sound like a noisy cymbal. Having the right intent means you are purposeful in what you say and fully aware of the impact it has on your relationships. For example, if you’ve recently had to make a big decision in your organization that significantly affects your people—like a raise freeze or benefits change—and you choose to communicate that via email, it may not show the right intent.
Communicating such a message in person somehow, with a clear explanation of the reasons behind it, and an acknowledgement of how it affects them, might be a better way to share that news. The message you send, avenues and tone you use, all support your intent. So pour into making it right.
Communicate by listening
Communication isn’t just about talking, it’s also about listening. Really listen. Understand with your heart and mind where your people are coming from. And listen to your own internal dialogue about things. What are your own thoughts telling you? If they aren’t healthy or productive, how can we listen to ourselves, analyze that and change?
Really, it's hard to imagine a healthy culture without healthy communication—that's how crucial it is to building a great workplace. Your company communication is a reflection of its culture, and vice versa. The plus side? When you invest in one, you invest in both.
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