A Guide to Improving Internal Communications in Your Small Business
Communication works for those who work at it. Read our tips piece and improve internal comms in your enterprise
Improving internal comms in your company:
As your business grows, ensuring streamlined communications is integral. Not just for efficiency but also for staff motivation. Resentment can quickly grow if your staff feel out-of-the-loop.
But the bigger your business grows, the harder it becomes to communicate easily. We were lucky in the sense that our growth has been gradual, but that said, like many businesses, we had an awakening last year when we realised that whilst the senior management team shared the same clear business plan, this vision wasn’t being passed on to our staff.
So to correct this path, we’ve developed a comprehensive yet simple internal comms plan that we have found effective. To give you an idea of what has worked for us, here’s a quick guide to what we’ve implemented which has created a happy, loyal and productive workforce which feels more cared for.
All Your Team Under One Roof
We’d recommend, where possible, that your team is under one roof. You will find efficiency is increased; as employees can talk face-to-face, working together verbally to push forward a development, rather than wasting time by email miscommunication or misunderstood phone chat. Also, this means that the senior management team is not split running from site to site, helping you get an accurate overview of the entire day-to-day business output. Furthermore separate spaces can manifest into an ‘us vs them’ mentality – one roof means you can treat everyone fairly.
This year, for the first time, we sourced a space large enough to house our head office and depot, uniting every single employee in one location.
This is not an option for everyone but it’s the best office move we’ve ever made.
By the workforce for the workforce
Newsletters are a great way to share news – the key is making sure they’re read!
Making the news relevant is key. We have achieved this by looking at our monthly newsletters as a collaborative effort into which all our staff contribute, for example, we coaxed all our heads of department to write a quick update on their part of the business so they could keep the whole company up to speed on their activity. This means that everyone understands the workings of all the cogs and realizes the important effect of their work within the business.
We also share our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), our sales targets and profit leads. This level of transparency in a business is still seen as quite unusual but we want to ensure that everyone, from the bottom up, is working towards the success of the business.
Finally, we print and distribute hard copies as well as email the newsletter. It means everyone gets their hands on the latest issue, whether they live day-to-day glued to a screen or packing in the warehouse.
Ensure you have staff buy-in, because what’s all the point in this activity if it’s falling on deaf ears!
We’ve recently started sending around a weekly survey which employees answer anonymously. The survey is limited to a couple of questions – one or two on employee happiness and another canvassing opinion on what we could improve. We limit the number of questions to make it as easy as possible to answer. That way you maximise your response rate which means, in turn, you can analyse each response in context of the overall verdict.
Anonymity does invite an outpouring of feelings – which might sting at first – but it’s better they voice them to you directly rather than letting resentments simmer internally or disrupt other employees. Especially as often the gripes can be easily resolved.
Say Thank You
Everyone likes to know they are appreciated. Say thank you when it is required and offer praise when it is deserved.
And throw a party! This year we are 10 years old. We couldn’t have hit this milestone without our staff so we are celebrating in the only way that seemed right; by holding an all-expenses paid party for our staff. What’s more, we’re inviting their partners in recognition of the support they offer our staff outside of the office.
Ian Cowley is the Managing Director and founder of www.cartridgesave.co.uk.