The importance of strong internal communications
In a time of crisis, internal communications are equally, if not more, important than external communications.
After all, a successful business is built upon a motivated and dedicated workforce, so in times of uncertainty it is vital to keep all employees informed to help allay any fears and maintain a sense of normality as much as possible.
While every situation is different, there are some general steps to take in order to effectively communicate with your employees.
Here are five key pointers to consider.
- Be prepared. Take the time to prepare and plan an internal communications strategy. The worst thing is to let events overtake you, sending out rushed messages that have the potential to cause more damage and confusion. With this is mind, constantly review the strategy so it adapts to the need of your workforce and organisation. Even simulating a crisis situation and how effective your communications are received can only be beneficial.
- Your staff should be your priority. Internal communications should ideally be issued before any external communications. There are a couple of good reasons why. Firstly, if your workforce sees messages in the media or on social channels before they have been informed then they could lose trust in the business and any future announcements. Secondly, it’s your employees who’ll you’ll have to turn to help fix the challenges and prepare the business for a brighter, stronger future.
- Leadership for reinforcement. In times of crisis having a recognisable face can help provide reassurance, whilst showing that ‘we’re all in this together’. It also provides continuity of message. As part of developing an internal communications strategy, decide who are the senior faces and what their roles will be in advance. Leaders also have an important duty to keep staff motivated, so a kind word now and again would always be welcomed.
- Stay one step ahead. Don’t wait for your employees to come to you for guidance, you must reach them first. A void in communication or information can be a breeding ground for speculation and confusion.
- After the event. While pre-planning is important, so is evaluation once the crisis has passed. What worked well? What didn’t? Was it executed as expected? What would you change if it happens again? Lessons learnt can be invaluable.
Internal communications have a variety of elements to them and these are just a few guidelines. Overall, treat your employees as you would expect to be treated yourself, especially when there are so many unknowns.