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6 Ways to Improve Internal Communications

Most organizations understand the importance of communication with outside stakeholders. Whether communicating directly to citizens, the press, or other important areas, we spend time focusing on getting the right message to the right person at the right time.

But too often, we don’t spend even 5 percent of the same energy to focus on internal communications. We simply rehash the same strategy we’ve always done – an occasional email and perhaps a town hall.

So here are six ways to improve internal communication:

1) Use SMS for Emergency Communication – Hopefully it’s just a fire drill but when your building is evacuated you still have to track down all of your employees. While you are running around with a clipboard, every one of your employees is staring at their smart phones. Use SMS for a quick check-in with employees – “Text 1 if you are okay and accounted for” (P.S. – we’ve also found SMS great for reminders after online trainings.)

2) Quick Interactive Surveys for Employee Engagement – Once a year, your division may do a huge survey on employee engagement – it takes 25 minutes to respond and we talk about that data all year. But that’s just one point of time – folks could be having a bad day, it could be seasonal, the data could be from folks who are no longer here. Send regular 2-3 question surveys to employees on engagement – it’s easy to do with 2-way interactive text messaging and great way to get a pulse on your team.

3) Tinder + Coffee Dates – Alright, so it’s definitely not Tinder, but at our company we have employees sign-up if they want to do a monthly coffee with a random employee. We put it into a simple algorithm and once a month you get matched with someone to grab coffee with (and if in different locations, it has built in video conferencing links).

4) Create Places for Informal Conversation – The best internal communication happens peer-to-peer informally. To do that you need to create places for this conversation to happen. For us, we use Slack as an internal tool to share information – we have official work channels where people can ask quick questions but also more informal channels (ones about parenting, music, or cooking) for folks to build bonds. In a physical environment, we have our kitchen in them middle of the office for the same reason.

5) Bring Back Storytelling – A big part of internal communications is the “why” we are doing what we are doing.   We share the “why” in a number of key ways – each week I write a weekly email to our team with status of our key projects but also with qualitative updates on key trends and quotes from our clients. We also keep a document with quotes from folks on how GovLoop has helped them and we share that at every meeting.

6) Track What’s Working – Just like in your outside communication, you should track what’s working on your internal communication. Check your open rates on emails, see the response to surveys from text messages. Ask your staff qualitatively what’s working or not, and adjust.

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Monika Dlugopolski

In absence, or as we are working on the riddle, Tary Paris 😉 , I find the following works well to maximize effectiveness of internal communication:

1. Timely (self explanatory)
2. Factual (facts and process based)
3. Tailored to the audience using various channels
4. Two-way (opportunity to respond, provide feedback, comments)
5. Focused and concise (no need for information overload)
6. Respectful

Your thoughts?