Communication is one of the most important requirements for managers. With good communication and close contact with employees, a positive working environment can be created and maintained. But what does it all come down to? Find out in this article.
Distinction between internal / external communication in companies
Internal communication is an ongoing activity that takes place (at least to a greater extent) in every company. Its purpose is to disseminate information within the organisation on the one hand and to provide training for specific processes on the other.
External communication or corporate public relations aims to disseminate information about companies concerning their latest activities, products or services in order to promote them and protect the image that consumers should associate with them.
Both types of communication have common elements but pursue different goals so that both can serve their purpose perfectly. A mistake often made by some organizations is the false distinction between internal and external communication in the sense of how each is handled. For example, most companies deal with a crisis situation that affects both their reputation and image by not communicating effectively internally with their employees, but relying mainly on traditional media such as newspapers or television for external communication. An effective external response usually has a positive impact on internal communications (e.g. if the company is able to resolve the issue quickly), but it is also true that an unsuccessful resolution that leads to further disasters can cause serious damage within the company itself: ill-informed employees give out misleading information, negative attitudes are created among employees who may then seek other employment opportunities, and finally, high-cost damages directly impact shareholders.
Internal and external communication accompany each other
Internal communications must be considered when implementing a corporate public relations strategy as one of the factors that can help or hurt such a plan. With this in mind, it is advisable to establish an internal information committee based on specific activities (e.g. employee newsletter, website, etc.) that facilitate both the achievement of goals and the building of a positive attitude towards corporate messages in employee communications.
Internal communication in general is the process of information transfer for everyday communication flow and information exchange between individuals. This includes employees, management, shareholders, board members. It also includes all factors that influence the behaviour or thinking or decisions of others (e.g. leadership). External communication is the message directed outside the boundaries of the organization to people who are not part of it (customers; suppliers; business partners; government agencies).
Internal communication has two main functions
Internal communication has two main functions
The main functions of internal communication can be divided into two categories. The informational and motivational function.
First, the informational function involves providing information about the activities, products/services, policies and procedures, etc. that enable members to effectively perform their duties.
Second: The motivational function
This looks at how the flow of information can assist in creating the tools to promote positive motivation within the company. This includes, for example, coaching of managers, incentive extension for employees and “internal branding”, branding with storytelling and messages of individual projects and project participants, events and further training.
What is effective communication in business?
We’ve all been there: we get a task, a project, or leave a meeting and have no idea what to do next. Unfortunately, this happens quite often. According to statistical surveys, 57 percent of employees say they often don’t receive clear instructions, and 69 percent of managers feel overwhelmed when communicating with employees. These figures show: Communication in the workplace needs to be improved in most cases.
Basically, communication in the workplace is about exchanging information and ideas within a company in the most targeted way possible. However, this is only really effective if a message is formulated precisely by the sender. Only then can it be received one-to-one by the recipient. At least that is how communication theory puts it.
Why is optimal communication in companies so important?
Optimal and effective communication in companies is important for the following reasons:
– It avoids confusion
– It sets a clear objective
– It builds a positive corporate culture
– It delegates tasks and projects.
How can communication in companies be optimised?
If companies notice an increase in misunderstandings within the workforce, for example because employees often do not know which tasks and projects they have been assigned to, then they should ask themselves: Where is the communication bottleneck?
Most of the time, improving communication in companies has to start at the top of a team – the team leader. After all, it is often the communication skills of a line manager that distinguish a well-performing team from a poorly performing team. While managers usually achieve excellent business results with their colleagues in the first case, managers with poor communication usually lag behind their targets in the second case: they are unable to communicate to their employees what they need to do in order to successfully manage their projects and achieve the common goals. Consequently, everyone works quietly away – in the hope that what they are doing will somehow fit.
Important communication skills for managers
What communication skills should team leaders have? Here are the main ones:
– Verbal expression
– Written communication
– Deliver speeches in the great plenary.
Effective communication strategies that leaders use on the job
The good news is that effective communication in companies can be trained and learned. Here are a few tips that managers can use to achieve initial success in direct communication with their employees after only a short time:
Questions avoid misunderstandings
Encourage your employees to ask questions or voice their opinions. In this way, potential misunderstandings can be eliminated from the outset.
Praise works wonders
Tell your employees what they are doing right and well: Get into the habit of giving positive feedback on a regular basis. Don’t accept all that is going well without a word. This will give your colleagues an extreme boost of motivation. You’ll see!
Regular feedback is essential
Also, give regular feedback on tasks and projects that is as specific as possible: Give your colleagues an accurate assessment of what they do best and give constructive tips on what they could still improve.
Early warning system Check-in talks
Schedule regular check-in meetings: meet with your employees for a morning check-in meeting. In a few minutes, clarify the tasks of the day and their importance. Are there challenges that a colleague needs help with? Then the daily check-in is the perfect time to voice this. In this way, problems can be avoided from the outset, before they arise.
Team building: experiencing colleagues differently
Also organize engaging external team building activities to improve communication within your team, prevent misunderstandings and ensure knowledge transfer. The advantage of teambuilding measures: Colleagues experience a completely different side of themselves and get to know each other better outside the company. In addition, shared experiences always create points that stimulate a common exchange. This creates closeness, which is also very beneficial for communication in companies.
The communication plan as a basis for internal communication
The communication plan is a central document that structures internal communication and fills it with life. It gives concrete instructions to all employees and is the basis for internal communication. This makes internal communication more efficient. In the following article we explain what you should consider when creating an internal communication plan.
Internal communication is a necessary part of any business and while there are many things that need to be planned in detail (e.g. which channels should I use?), There are some basics that need to be covered first. The foundation of all good cross-company communication and communication planning starts with having a clear goal in mind before executing communication processes and channels – something that is often forgotten amidst all the other daily tasks.
It is also important to think internally about the information flow of the communication plan and to pay close attention to the interlocutors in external communication: Who should be included in the communication? Which message do you want to convey via which information channels? How does it affect other people if they are not included or excluded in certain conversations? How can you ensure that everyone has an open space for news, feedback and the exchange of ideas without being too disruptive – because that could cause unnecessary tension and, above all, jeopardise cross-departmental processes? These are the kinds of questions that need to be answered before you even begin to consider what channels might yield results! The next step would then be to set specific goals by defining concretely what success looks like – how does interdepartmental communication work?
We believe that every company needs such a communication plan in the sense of a communication platform, which can be fulfilled in just a few steps! The plan is important not only for inter-company communication, but also for inter-team and intra-team communication. As I said, it helps to structure all internal processes in all areas by giving employees concrete instructions on what they have to work on and what they have to do – making it easier for everyone involved.
How do I create a communication plan?
The creation of a communication plan is not a major project and only requires some know how and some project management after you are aware of the following contents:
1. the objective
2. the target group
3. the audience
4. the context
5. the choice of media and tools according to the context and the target group
6. the time frame for communication according to the context, the target group, the media choices and the objective of the plan according to point 1) to 5)
Examples of employee communication projects can be found here, for example:
How do I create a communication matrix?
The Communication Matrix provides you with a visual display / representation of your organization’s culture. It also helps you name things and clarify definitions so that employees can easily understand what is being done, why it is being done, and how they can help make things happen.
Using the communication matrix, you can easily identify your company’s team culture. If you ask your employees what’s important to them, you may get answers like pay, work-life balance, career growth, and learning new things. If everyone says the same thing, you have a homogeneous group of employees who are interested in similar things (e.g. monetary compensation).
The communication matrix helps teams identify which departments are affected when certain decisions are made (e.g., if we don’t pay our employees well or allow them time for family obligations, their performance may suffer). It also clarifies how communication occurs within an organization and highlights where additional discussions could take place that could lead to improved performance, productivity and engagement.
Simple communication matrix
Start by making three lists on the right side of the paper. List the departments that report to you in one column. Then, in another column, list what is important to team members. Finally, in another column, write down how each department shares information with other teams (e.g., next to Marketing, write “Publishing”; next to Manufacturing, write “Sales”). This third column helps you identify where there are gaps or issues within the organization that could impact performance, quality, resources, productivity, and employee collaboration and innovation.
What is the best way to acquire the skills to manage internal communications?
Established or aspiring managers can acquire the communication skills mentioned above on their own, or through professional support within a professional management training on communication. The last one is recommended. After all, thoroughly professional communication is a central success factor for managers. Especially in the digital age, in which the speed of change in companies is extremely high and a lot has to be communicated.
As a manager, for example, you will repeatedly take on the role of a facilitator and clarify with your team how an existing challenge can be solved. They also act as a motivator, leading their team to their goal through professional reasoning and appreciative communication. Such a thing can hardly be learned on one’s own. Instead, train in a precisely designed management training practical methods to communicate effectively in your leadership role and constructively involve their employees and thus achieve common goals optimally.
You have little time? Then online training in communication is definitely recommended for you. Virtual learning has decisive advantages: you can learn whenever you want and wherever you want. Use the various learning opportunities: webinars, joint learning in a virtual classroom, online coaching or video tutorials and quizzes, with which the learned content can be deepened in a playful way. You will become a communication professional in no time.
The communication plan usually directly increases employee motivation and is the first point of contact for further information to provide your employees with optimal employee communication across all communication processes and channels using modern tools.