How to improve your internal communication

Without knowing anything about your business, I can almost guarantee that your staff’s biggest bugbear centres around poor internal communication. I know this because I’ve honestly only worked with one or two that are genuinely good at it. Oddly enough, it’s really not that difficult to get right, it just requires a bit of effort. And fundamentally it’s vital for business growth and success. So what are the essentials here and why do so many SME leaders drop the ball and let it slide?

Share the plan

You’ve spent a long time working on the business strategy and deciding on your goals and objectives, but how long have you spent communicating them to the rest of the business?

You can’t expect everyone to come on the journey with you if you don’t tell them where you’re going. Too often teams only hear about the plan at a granular level – the bit that management have decided affects them. Everyone works better when they know what the bigger plan is and when they understand how their contribution affects it.

Communication should be a key part of every manager’s role, and providing you have the right people in your management layer, they should be able to cascade information down to their teams. And, just as importantly, they’ll provide feedback up the chain too.

Listen as well as talk

Communication should be a two-way process. As well as ensuring you are disseminating information effectively, you need to provide the opportunity for your people to feed back into the business. It’s important that people feel that they are being listened to by management. Often some of the best ideas for improvements come from those who are closer to the day-to-day realities of the business – production, sales, customer service.

Match the message to the medium

One of the challenges facing businesses is how best to present information to employees so that it is consumed, understood and valued. There are a variety of channels that can be used from more traditional media such as employee newsletters and emails, to company chat software, and social intranets. Consider live online events to communicate to all employees simultaneously regardless of location and mobile intranets help to manage communication with remote workers. Video, surveys, interviews, live chat can all help to get your message over more effectively. Don’t rely on one channel, mix it up and include some face-to-face communication whenever practical.

Don’t be frightened to be honest

Often businesses decide not to tell their employees what’s happening, particularly when times are tough. But not communicating is far worse than being honest. Staff will fill the silence, create their own scenarios and, before you know it, rumours are flying around the industry and half the company is looking for another job.

I know you know this, but regular open and honest communication builds trust, loyalty, productivity and morale. If that’s not worth the effort, what is?

Follow through

Communication with staff doesn’t end with talking to them. Ensuring that your actions and behaviours are consistent with your words shows that you mean what you say. This should be true of your whole management team. Words are just that – it’s the action that matters.

And don’t forget to make communicating well with everyone in the business part of how you do business. It will be stronger for it.

So remember…

  • Communication is part of effective leadership
  • Schedule and commit to communication fora
  • Create an annual communication plan and stick to it
  • Don’t be frightened to be honest
  • Listen and act on staff feedback
  • Don’t just say it, do it.

Is the cost of living affecting your learning & development spend?

The cost of living is on everyone’s mind. Perhaps even more so for business leaders as employees look to them for support. As a business, you might be looking for ways to offset cost of living initiatives you’ve introduced to support your people and aid retention. One of those considerations might be reducing or cutting your learning & development spend. 

Is cutting your learning & development spend short sighted?

Cost of living initiatives may meet immediate needs, but it’s highly unlikely these things alone will keep people happy and engaged for long. Salary is a big pull factor, but the reality is, your star performers and top talent won’t just be leaving just for the money and though salary may sometimes be a contributing factor, it is often not the main or sole reason employees leave a job. To add the icing on the cake in the case for sustaining investment in learning & development, according to a Forbes survey ‘76% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training’.

It’s no coincidence that many of the companies that stand out in the ‘Best Companies’ survey (celebrating the very best in workplace engagement, Best Companies | For a better workplace)  invest continually in their people development. This didn’t stop during the pandemic, so why would it be of benefit to stop it now? Companies that have won the special award for learning & development (to reflect their outstanding commitment to the personal goals and ambitions of their people), have, despite challenging circumstances, maintained a focus on personal and professional development as core to their people proposition and business success. For example, Energize Group (digital and IT recruitment specialists) are fiercely committed to personal and professional development, the company marries ambitions with a tailored bespoke internal development programme and regular input from industry experts. The group predicts business growth, forecasts revenues of £16m this year with continued expansion across its brands (SAP, Digital, Tech and Data) and locations (Best Companies | Energize Group Company Profile).

How can Stratton HR help?

We’re experts in working with growing SMEs to support the learning & development of their team. Our most popular offering is our management and leadership development programmes.

We work with our clients to make sure that the programmes we deliver are contextually relevant, practical, and focus on building capability and confidence, delivering behavioural change as a result.  

We work closely with the relevant leaders and stakeholders at the scoping stage to understand what you want to achieve through a development programme, for the individuals involved personally, but also for your business and what challenges you’re trying to overcome. This is translated into our delivery of modules, where we’re able to translate theoretical models into real life practical scenarios in your business – hence enabling the individual to feel like they can apply their learning outside of the training room.

‘It was the first training session I’ve had where I was able to stay locked in and interested as the subject matter was relevant to me and I had the opportunity to start debate and conversation about it’

Our work doesn’t just begin and end there though, we can help you right across your learning & development needs. Whether you are looking to change mindset, develop new skills or equip people with flexible learning and tools, our range of solutions can support across all levels of your workforce – think graduate programmes, apprenticeship schemes, upskilling your star performers, coaching your future leaders or widening your wellbeing offering. We can meet all those needs.

If you’re need help working out how to continue a commitment to your people and their development through a recession, or you’re interested in hearing more about the programmes we’ve delivered and the impact they’ve had then get in touch!