Internal and two-way communication, a huge untapped potential
In a world of ever faster change and increasing competitiveness, it is a goal of any management team to be able to transform their company or public organization at a high pace.
Regardless of all the transformation initiatives and strategic investment the organization is willing to make, there is one absolute truth: companies are made of people, and people take time to transform. People are traditionally resistant to change (with very positive consequences such as family and brand and company loyalty).
But in recent years there has been a fundamentally different change in people: with increased literacy and globalization and greater exposure to technology, people are influenced by social networks, acquire new habits, and increasingly express their opinions. They seek acceptance (the "likes" and "views"), and are willing to change their personal behavior to get it.
Are people changing their personal behaviors faster than they are changing their professional behaviors? Many experts, from sociologists to human behavior scientists believe so.
We are therefore facing an important opportunity for companies: those that can better understand the new communication mechanisms and use them with their employees will transform faster, have more motivated employees, be more innovative (bottom-up innovation), and ultimately be more successful.
It is therefore up to the leaders of modern organizations to enhance the use of one of the most basic tools of influence: communication (with their employees).
I share some relevant points in this area:
- Internal communication is an investment: more than money, it requires management time in its preparation, execution and follow-up. But the benefit of having a team of 100, 1,000 or 10,000 people motivated, knowing where we want to go, suggesting new ideas, and committed to change is enormous, so the return on this investment is huge.
- The messages have to be repeated over time. If something is important to the company, it is not enough to communicate it once. It needs to be repeated 10 or 20 times. It is communication that makes the strategy a reality: what benefit can a company derive from a new strategy that took 9 months to create, if it is not presented to all employees? How can employees be expected to know the company's mission and vision if they have only seen it in an e-mail or on a poster on the wall?
- Communication requires active listening skills, genuine interest in others, and commitment and action to involve others. People are increasingly educated and demanding. They expect to be heard, valued, and to receive honest answers, even if these are "we don't have a solution to that problem yet, but we'd like to hear your suggestions and have you be part of the team that will put them into practice".
- Communication has to be structured in a way that addresses the perspective and interest of the recipient of the communication. Respond to "what's in it for me? Even in the most basic rules of every company, there is always a "what's in it for me", if only because a certain rule is important to be able to have satisfied customers and pay salaries. Explaining the why of initiatives, processes or challenges is as basic as explaining to a child why he can't cross the street without looking away, and yet.... how many times do companies not introduce a set of new rules without explaining why?
- Internal communication is a habit, and as such needs additional effort at the beginning. Creating an extended team that creates verbal communication moments and written communication pieces is essential. Ideally this team should be composed of both formal and informal company leaders.
- I'll end with another of the advantages of the transformation that the pandemic has brought us. Today it is incredibly simple for a leader to communicate with the entire organization, whether it has 100 or 100,000 people: deep-rooted (and also centuries-old) practices of periodic meetings with the extended management team (for reasons of space constraint or opportunity cost) with the expectation that information would cascade throughout the organization no longer make sense. Today, the organization's leader can and should speak to the entire organization by video, with the added benefit of being able to clarify questions or receive suggestions in the first person.
It is undeniable that the success of organizations will pass through areas of great innovation, such as digital transformation and artificial intelligence. This technological revolution is important, but seen from a historical perspective it will be just another one, like the mechanization of agriculture, the industrial revolution or aviation. People will continue to be the center of our society and our organizations. And if this is so, why don't leaders communicate more with them?
Source: Link to Leaders