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Are you preaching to the choir? Internal communications made easy

Most business leaders can see the benefits of clear internal communications, but we often get caught up on the "what" at the expense of the "why."

The truth is, if you limit your internal comms to just passing on information­, you're missing a huge opportunity to engage your team.

What's the real point of internal communications? As well as keeping staff informed, internal comms are an essential tool to give your employees a clear view of the big picture, to help them understand how their work—however junior—fits into the organisation's wider strategy and objectives.

An effective internal comms program should be driven by a clear strategy that outlines why, how and when you share news with your team.

Think about how you deliver your internal comms. Face-to-face meetings are a great way to build engagement, but they may not always be feasible in large companies. All-staff emails are quick and easy, but they can also seem cold and impersonal. And if they're too regular you risk staff tuning out and paying little attention. You may have more success aggregating news relevant to all staff into a regular bulletin or newsletter. Or you could try a scrolling newsfeed on your company intranet. Some companies also share videos of their executives delivering important briefings, to give staff a sense of connection to senior management.

Schedule your communications. How often is too often? Ask your staff what suits them. It's good to have a planned approach to your internal comms, but be open to unscheduled communications if the need arises. This is particularly important if something goes wrong—a quick response is an excellent way to short-circuit workplace gossip and speculation, which can have a negative effect on morale.

Integrate your internal comms with your external comms. Let staff know what you're doing outside the company. What's the current marketing pitch? What are you telling customers? What campaigns, promotions, initiatives, events and news may have an impact on their role? Keep the messages clear and consistent.

Be honest and transparent. Badly managed comms or too much spin can make internal comms feel more like propaganda—and that's a great way to build distrust and encourage disengagement. On the other hand, responsive, honest and consistent internal comms encourage employees to feel like part of a wider whole. Encourage staff to ask questions and offer feedback.

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