We tend to talk a lot about internal communications. Aside from the fact that we’re advocates for open communication and knowledge-driven cultures, we also recognize that internal communication has become an absolute cornerstone of the modern workplace.
With more people working asynchronously in hybrid environments, it’s absolutely critical for companies to figure out an internal comms strategy that works best for them. Luckily, we know just what you need to do to get things off to a good start.
Whether you’re creating an internal communications strategy from scratch or just want to revamp your current one, here are 11 must-follow tips for an effective and efficient internal comms strategy.
1. Understand the audience
Are you about to present a data-heavy topic to people that aren’t used to sorting through tons of pivot tables and charts? Do people in customer service need to find a way to communicate customer feedback to people in engineering?
When it comes to internal communications best practices, understanding your audience is close to a golden rule. Understanding your audience can help you find the right ways to communicate and share information with them.
Approach things from an audience perspective. Think about how they communicate and consume, then tailor a message to them.
2. Keep the message simple and consistent
When you’re focused on ABC, someone who insists on talking about XYZ isn’t going to be particularly relevant for you. Brevity and simplicity are the cornerstones of effective communication practices. If you want to make a strategy everyone in the workplace can get behind, think about ways to keep your messaging easy to understand.
Consider writing things down in lists and bullet points as opposed to long paragraphs. Think about when video and images can communicate better than words.
Consistency can also help improve work comms. Establish a schedule for sending out company newsletters, project updates, and other important repeatable messaging so people know when to expect things. This can help people better plan their days or just build anticipation for company news.
3. Use communication tools
We’re living in a veritable golden age of comms technology. Whether you want to communicate through video, the written word, messaging apps, or something else, we know there’s software out there for you.
Make your knowledge management tool the focal point of your internal comms strategy. Picking the system you use to manage and store your most important information should be an integral part of your comms strategy.
There are plenty of other tools to consider adding to your tech stack. A messaging tool for teams, a video recording tool, and collaborative software are always something to consider.
4. Celebrate success
Did the sales team have their best quarter of the year? Are customers raving about the latest update to your product? Have the board members praised a recent direction the company took?
Good news doesn’t just spread itself at work. It’s important to celebrate the wins everyone achieves. That’s why we put celebrating wins on our list of internal communication best practices.
Get into the habit of asking managers to report good news so you can share it with the team. This doesn’t just help boost morale, it can also be a new way to keep people informed about what’s happening at work.
5. Create an opportunity for engagement and feedback
Looks like you just sent out another banger of a project update. How do you plan on finding out what people think of the news you just put out?
One of the most common pitfalls internal comms strategies fall into is failing to create a way for people to engage with content and give their feedback. It’s important to know what people are thinking so you can rate the effectiveness of what you send.
Encourage people to leave comments on messages or tasks if they have questions or concerns. If you really want to see how people feel about your current setup, consider sending out a survey so you can gauge where they think the biggest gaps are.
6. Set clear expectations
Let’s focus on that absolute banger of a project update again. When you send that out to the team, what do you expect to happen next?
Are people just supposed to read the update and do nothing more than gain an understanding of where you’re at with work? Should they be coming to the project manager with suggestions for the next sprint? Do they need to follow up with anyone on specific tasks?
Employees need to do more than consume the knowledge sent to them; They also need to understand what direction and action need to happen next. When you send out internal comms, do so with a clear understanding of what you want the next steps to be, and work to make sure that the people reading it understand what needs to be done.
7. Encourage collaboration
It’s never a good idea to work in a vacuum, and that’s especially true for internal comms professionals. Working in silos can mean that you’re shutting out great ideas and options from people who could help improve your work.
When you work in internal comms, you’re not just focused on helping the company communicate important news and updates. Ideally, you should be open to helping people across teams and other departments work better together.
Open yourself up to cross-department collaboration to see how you can improve. Getting ideas from other people can help you understand what needs to happen to truly improve comms at work.
8. Be open to change
Change should be seen as a necessary and positive part of any job. Change means that you’re listening to other people, staying on top of the news, and are doing your best to improve. If that’s the case, why do so many people assume that change means that they failed?
Communication best practices in the workplace are in a constant state of flux. Something that worked well 5 years ago or even 1 month ago may not be the best strategy for your workplace today. That’s why it’s important to be open to changing the way things are done.
Connect with other people who are passionate about internal comms and learn from them. Attend webinars and conferences so you can learn the latest techniques from other professionals in the field.
9. Be flexible with your communication styles
Some people are going to prefer that internal comms are always written down. Others will take watching a video over reading an email if given the choice. There will be some people that want to only read things in paragraph form, and there will be others that prefer to scan bullet points and numbered lists.
Everyone is going to have their preferred method of communication—and that’s perfectly fine! Be flexible with the way you present information and share knowledge so you can ensure that people are getting information in the best way possible.
10. Avoid communication overload
Everyone can’t spend the work day in a constant state of communication and consumption. It’s perfectly fine to want to slow down, and we encourage internal comms professionals to embrace life in the slow lane for a bit.
When you’re focused on work communications, you want people to be able to focus on the message and take the appropriate next action. It’ll be very difficult to do that when they’re distracted because they simply all have too much on their plate.
Avoid overload by making your message easy to digest and understand. Consider setting up a cadence for sending out important communications so people know when to expect them and can set aside time in their down to consume important knowledge.
11. Have fun!
It’s okay to add a little touch of creativity to your internal comms. The best internal communications strategy is one that lets people truly engage with and appreciate the information they consume. Adding your own touch of fun to things isn’t just encouraged, it’s practically required.
Make that ridiculous pun you know will make someone smile. End that update with a joke. The more creative you get, the more you help make internal comms something to look forward to!