If you wanted to take over the world then mastering effective communications might just be the way to achieve it; not that we are condoning becoming an evil genius! But for those of us without a comic book criminal mind truly mastering internal corporate communications is a real challenge. It’s almost impossible to avoid communication, with the digital advancement and our ever-increasing demands on applications there is always a communications vehicle that can reach us. From social media, smart working, chat bots, messaging platforms, the line between personal and corporate communications has blurred, and as we live our lives ever more in the digital world we are always ‘available’.
At Gravity 9 communication is part of our culture, not just team stand ups, company calls, or instant messaging platforms as a company we have the balance between formal, the informal and, occasionally, the downright hilarious. We also pay attention to what works and what doesn’t; seeking new innovative ways to communicate with a geographically dispersed team in order to inform, motivate and unite.
The growth of digital communications within organisations enables smarter working and allows teams, departments and locations to communicate more easily with one another. However, 60%* of employees feel less than enthused about their organisation's internal communications.
Getting this right is ever more important as flexible and home working increases. With teams physically dispersed they need, not only to feel connected, but to remain informed, aware and productive in their work. While the use of traditional intranets as an information platform is decreasing, organisations are seeking to mimic the communications patterns employees use in their personal lives, such as instant messaging, social media and video chat. While the corporate versions of these tools are packaged to feel business like, they are familiar and easy for employees to engage without being intrusive.
Email, and video conferencing are still, and will remain, popular platforms, especially within the more traditional, larger organisations, they are often used for widespread, formal communications or to communicate with those outside of the immediate organisation. If we were to discuss the merits of every communication platform this would be a really long, (and not particularly interesting article) so instead, we focus on the real key to success; not what tools organisations are using but how they are layered and utilised in a way that works for the individuals within the organisation.
Thinking differently is just how we roll at Gravity 9, on occasion, we go out of our way to find a new way of doing something, because the current available options don’t meet our needs, and if we can’t find a solution that fits, then we simply go ahead and create it ourselves!
While many organisations have a level of expectation on their employees to actively seek out information, to read the company blogs and newsletters, listen to the podcasts or watch the latest video, in reality most employees don’t. Communication isn't a company branded t-shirt – one size doesn’t fit all so understanding what motivates and engages individual teams is central to developing the right tools for effective communication. The vehicle by which you communicate is actually just as important as the message being communicated.
While we aren’t claiming to be the Superhero's of communication, we truly believe that as a business we have it right. It doesn’t mean we stop evolving or seeking ways to improve how we do it but it does mean that we have the right platforms and culture in place to ensure our communication is effective for the team.
So, we thought we’d share the love and outline our Gravity 9 top tips for effective internal comms:
1. Make the communications engaging, communication is a two-way street, allow interaction and response from your teams, they may have questions or need further information. Every week our company Teams call is preceded by a quick 1-minute survey which allows us all to be anonymous in our summary of the last 7 days, ask questions and acknowledge teammates. But how do you ensure everyone engages? You don’t - that’s the key. But the platform is there for those that wish to and by acting on the feedback and giving recognition where it’s deserved means we willingly contribute because we know our feedback is valued and leads to action.
2. A picture paints a thousand words. It's an old analogy but one which stands true, be visual, a simple infographic, video or graph is better than having to read 500 words. There are those of us that love to wite (and talk) but keeping messages succinct is much easier when done visually.
3. Stay truthful. Hopefully this is obvious, but ensure you are not misleading employees in any communications. While it isn’t always appropriate to share all information with every team member aim to be as transparent as possible in order to build trust and rapport.
4. Inspire positivity within your communications. Not all news is good news but try to include something positive even when there is bad news that needs to be expressed. Recognise great work within the team, highlight project wins and successes, promote targets hit or new objectives, these all inspire and motivate, and ensure, the channels are open for more personal 121 communications when they are needed.
5. Don’t overload. This is a big one when teams are mostly working from home, there is that fear amongst team leaders or senior mgt. that they must maintain a continuous line of communication – you don’t. Overloading comms is as bad as not communicating at all. Keep communications relevant, interesting and informative – say what needs to be said but don’t bombard the team with continuous communication streams or you'll find they just disengage.
6. Find the formal vs informal balance. We all want to work with and for people we like, and we spend enough time with them that rapport and friendships often develop. Good corporate communications encourage this as it propagates strong working relationships, trust and support for one another. The balance between informal and formal can often be hard to strike but by enabling separate channels for the communication and fostering a culture of professionalism, creativity and fun it really does pay dividends for team motivation, engagement and everyone going that extra mile when needed.
When it comes to internal communications the digital tools are ready and waiting to be used. While we at Gravity 9 live and die by Slack as a day to day messaging tool, we are also quite fond of blogging, social media, Teams, the odd email, and heck, in lockdown we even sent everyone a card and gift basket. The key is to use what works for your organisation and the culture your seeking to nurture. Our last, but important, tip is not to be afraid to try different platforms and apps before you settle on what is right for you. And, once you do find what works, ensure you seek to continuously expand it. The tools and applications will continue to evolve and so should we.