Remember when we used to talk?
Public relations is supposed to the art and the science of communications. If that were so, we would understand that term more holistically. We communicate in many ways to many people; yet, a forgotten aspect of this thing we call “our life’s work” is internal communications.
How well are we helping our clients if we aren’t teaching that team to speak to one another, share the brand, discuss improvements, learn to drink the same Kool-Aid? We aren’t and I’m surprised more clients don’t call us out on that. If the client has a stronger team internally because of the work we are doing externally, said client will be reminded of our greatness more often.
Now that I have your attention, here are 5 tips to enhance better internal communications. You’re welcome.
1. Silence is not Always Golden. Have you ever noticed the places people don’t enjoy working are the ones where the minions don’t have a voice? Most of corporate America is like that because the old curmudgeons in the corner suite could give two craps less about the people they presume are doing nothing but retrieving cups of coffee and making copies. Often, if employees aren’t speaking to management, they are all thinking the same thing, “This place — and you — are beginning to suck.” Open and transparent communication is appreciated because everyone has been blessed with a brain full of ideas. Encourage the higher-ups to listen to those ideas.
2. Draw a Line Then Get Straight to the Point. Employees who enjoy their work crave one thing, almost above all, direction. With clear direction, they understand what to do to earn brownie points. With a line in the sand, they understand what not to cross and how far they can go before getting in trouble with management. A solid line that points the way to success is how to keep people on the same pages. If you draw different lines for different people, guess what happens? Those lines will always get blurred and how does that help any business? Stress direction and watch movement happen.
3. Keeping in the Box Just Keeps you Covered. Many employers don’t like to think outside the box, draw outside the lines or dare try something different. And why? Because that’s how it’s always been. And look at them — sure they are stuck in the mud and turnover is higher than the local McDonalds but they are making money. Employees want inspiration. They want to see their managers, directors and grand poobahs doing something that can bring about change. Want a team to follow you? Inspire them to do something differently and with purpose. Think about every “revolutionary” in American history. Think they created changed by sitting on their thumbs? Nope. They got up and pointed the way.
4. Hearing it Through the Grapevine Just Makes People Drunk. Anyone in HR or internal communications will tell you the chief reason for gossip in the workplace is ignorance. The lower-rung folk don’t really know what’s going on, so they go to the local whine bar (see what I did there) and blather about what they think. This is divisive, brand-killing, reputation-destroying behavior. And it happens daily because people are “too busy” to deal with it. A monthly or bi-weekly lunch would suffice. Let them be heard by listening and then acting.
5. Lead by Example or They Will Follow Any Schmuck. There is an aphorism that I love, “Your child will only follow your example, not your advice.” Take a gander at the picture. Bosses “boss.” Leaders “lead.” Encourage your client to do the better of the two. Words only mean so much. Without action behind those words, you are just expelling gas. And you have more fun farting in the elevator with your employees, you know, in the elevator.