Not a few companies I have worked with were looking for help with their marcom capacity, but for these organisations, they did not realise that they first have to resolve a fundamental lack of healthy internal communications. Because without internal communications, you do not have external communications.
What is internal communications?
A common issue is when organisations, especially big organisations, work in silos. Departments or teams do not work with one another, and sometimes compete with one another, and that creates an antagonistic and often hostile environment. In this environment, the business or the organisational goals are seriously compromised.
Without the sharing of analytics data, client details, sales information, financial figures, P&L information, stakeholder relations, industrial partner relations… and the list goes on, teams cannot possibly work efficiently or in sync with one another. Of course, not everyone needs every single piece of information.
To share information does not mean to overload one another with details.
The best way to share information, is to look at a possible digital transformation of your organisation, where data produced by different teams are stored, consolidated, compiled, visualised and accessible upon demand by every team member across the board.
Also give different teams opportunities to freely chat and discuss together how they can use specific information to enhance or transform their work.
Apart from sharing data, we should not ignore the emotive part of internal communications. There are newsletters, internal social media channels, bulletin boards, townhall meetings that you can leverage in order to consolidate your organisational culture, goals and team spirit. Content can be produced to highlight different staff members, different work processes, various staff members’ suggestions on how to improve and enhance the work or reach your organisational goals. This can bring about a positive healthy flow of information both formally and informally.
That is when internal communications does its work.
Another type of the lack of internal communications is the hierarchical bottlenecks. This happens often to smaller organisations where middle or top management wants to create a clear delineation of hierarchy, by withholding information from the rest of the organisation. Ultimately, this lack of good leadership skills will backfire on the organisation itself. It is true that sensitive information should not be shared with staff, especially if it pertains to the private life of certain staff members. But the lack of meaningful exchange between management and staff creates a culture of non-sharing, which impedes all external communications processes. Also, this takes away the feeling of belonging and team spirit from the organisation, and creates a negative, closed work environment.
The third kind of lack of internal communications is not really a lack of it, but a lack of healthy internal communications. If an organisation does not get rid of negative feedback processes, such as backstabbing, people going to management or HR to gossip about other colleagues, people claiming the work of other people, then the internal communications that is circulating within the organisaton is constantly unproductive and harmful.
Feedback processes should be kept healthy: constructive, factual, non-judgemental and neutral, and followed up closely by HR and the managers involved.
To prevent internal communications from falling into this sort of negative spirals, HR and managers have to incorporate character and personality analyses into their recruitment process.
Individuals who are unable to collaborate, who are constantly trying to profile themselves, who are not able to prove their worth through their own hard work yet like to talk their way through… should never have been hired.
If an organisation does have such an individual, then HR should not hesitate in getting rid of that person. It just takes one person to bring down a healthy organisational culture.
Why is internal communications so important for external communications?
Good content can only come from an organisation with a culture of healthy internal communications. It provides the background for rich and diverse content, through insights gained by the different parts of the organisation, and allows the marketing and communications department to produce meaningful and quality content.
Apart from the raw material that healthy internal communications gives, the marcom department is also in a better position to gauge the impact and advantages different content can bring to the different processes and teams in the organisation.
How is the internal communications in your organisation? How has it impacted your marcom strategy? Let me know in the comments section below!
Drop me a note, or comment on my Twitter account @HaroldTor, should you like to know more about internal communications auditing.
Eureka Moments are not so much moments of sudden realisation or enlightenment like Archimedes. They are moments while I am in my commute when I get to reflect on things that someone mentioned to me, things that I am confronted with, things that I or others have sought a solution for. They are more ‘oh I get it’ rather than ‘I have discovered it’.