Communication between departments always seems to be a challenge for most organizations, and is often rated among the top issues needing improvement. For those of us in the communications field, the problem looms large, as the issue is often dropped in our laps with a directive to “fix it.” Unfortunately, there are limits to what we control. While we may be responsible for internal communications, we may not be involved in interactions between other departments. In addition, some of these departments aren’t great about sharing important information with the communications area and the rest of the organization.
At Memphis Light, Gas and Water, we’ve done a number of things to better equip our employees with more information. Here are a few examples:
- Someone from communications takes notes at our board of directors, City Council and manager meetings, and these notes and presentations are distributed to all employees via e-mail.
- If we’ve received media coverage, I’ll send a recap of the interview, our key messages, and a story link and text once it’s available to all supervisors and above.
- We have established an Internal Communications Committee to review our communications efforts and provide feedback on behalf of employees.
- We created a foreman-and-above newsletter entitled “In the Loop” that provides company updates from other areas. The newsletter is sent out monthly via e-mail and in hard copy to our field employees who do not have e-mail.
A few things we hope to implement this year:
- Promote site visits by company executives, and publish Q&A from these visits for all employees.
- Create an “Ask Us!” feature on the Intranet that allows employees to ask random questions about company operations. Our staff will facilitate getting the questions answered.
Those a few examples from MLGW. How are you improving employee communications?
Found that one of the best ways to improve communications was as part of the “check in process” require a new employee to spend several hours with the different departments…
Although one must proceed with caution, participation in “all hands” meetings with meaningful communication part of the meeting process
The last agency I worked with, had monthly meetings with the “director”, which was made available via the web for later review for those who were not able to “attend” the meeting..
IMO the biggest part of the problem is in fact that a portion of the 1st and 2nd Level management either don’t believe there is a problem or they can’t be bothered with the solution!
Nice post, Glen. I would just add that there may also be internal communications issues within departments, as well as between them. For example, an internal comms divide may occur within an agency’s larger departmental offices where dozens of employees are separated by various divisions and sub-divisions.
Thus, internal comms may need to be improved from the bottom-up, as well as the top-down. An internal weekly electronic newsletter issued every Monday morning within a large department can help bridge the gaps among various divisions and set a positive tone for the week. Employees feel more empowered and engaged with more information about what their co-workers are doing. As the saying goes, knowledge is power. This helps different divisions within a departmental office to get out of a silo mentality and enhance interactive collaboration across-the-board.
Other improvements, in addition to more meetings, may include a daily news clips package circulated to all employees, as well as internal podcasts, e-mails, videos, etc. from the organizational head to all staff. Lastly, despite what people may think, studies consistently show that most communications are non-verbal. Thus, in addition to diplomatic and useful e-mails, tweets, etc., also try smiling more at work. Yes, a simple smile may be infectious to your co-workers, creating a more friendly and happy workplace which is key to successfully communicating internally.