We communicate all the time: either verbally or nonverbally, we are always sharing information and communicating. This does not mean, however, that we always share the message we want to convey, and that the recipient gets it right. If this is true in one-to-one interactions, think how much more complex it can be when we talk about company communication. And to that complexity, add a global pandemic and remote work. Yes, the answer is clear: companies should invest significant time and effort in improving their internal communication strategy.
Here, we would like to give you some ideas based on our experience at Virtualmind that can help you work on your internal communication and slowly change your company culture for the better:
*Make sure the internal feedback system is user friendly:
Not all your employees will be willing to send an email or schedule a meeting when they need to share some concerns. One great way to carry out vertical and horizontal feedback is to create spaces where employees can quickly share what’s on their mind, such as a digital “suggestions box” where staff can write their thoughts anonymously. We have implemented them for each area of our intranet, allowing employees to direct their suggestions to one area in particular, such as People Care, Recruiting, etc.).
*Make employee feedback a priority:
Over the years, we have learned the importance of making people feel heard. We believe that “freedom of speech” is key to our business. Our staff know that they can say what they think, regardless of the team they are working in, and feel free to speak their mind to their leaders as well as their peers.
*Before jumping into a big decision, get different points of view:
It is no news that people may have very different perspectives on the same issues: for some, one change may be extremely positive, while others will be quick to see the things that could be improved. Collaborative work is essential for us: we believe that everyone can bring great and enriching perspectives to the table. So, before making big -and small- decisions, make sure you ask a diverse group of people their opinion, and make the necessary adjustments.
*Encourage up-down feedback:
Sometimes, people feel that higher management are not interested in their ideas, or they simply do not have the time to listen to them. It is wise and effective to create a system that encourages both vertical and horizontal feedback.
Mentoring programs are a great way to create bonds between people in different levels, thus allowing staff with less seniority to have regular one-to-one meetings with their managers, or people in the organization that they would not usually have to talk to. We have been applying this using 1on1 meetings, both with leaders and managers, and the results have been extremely positive.
*Be ready to hear the negative as well as the positive:
When a negative comment comes along, do not rush a response. Take some time to understand what the person is saying and why they are doing it. Consider their problems or proposals seriously before giving an answer. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to listen actively, and then engage the employee in the search for a solution.
These are not complex or unknown suggestions, but putting them into practice will definitely improve the way your company communicates, and help build a strong and effective organizational communication system. Take the pandemic, for instance: nobody could have imagined that we would be forced to stay home for over an year, and yet, here we are! Trying to master the art of communicating through computer screens. And, to be honest, when we look at how smoothly we were able to adapt to this new reality, I believe that all the hard work from the previous years has definitely paid off.