Let’s Say Your Company Is A Car

Jamie-OKeefe-smallBy Jamie O’Keeffe, PR Intern

A car is made up of countless varying parts. In order for the car to run, all of the parts must work together. Every part is important because each is vital to the overall appearance and functionality of the vehicle. You need a frame to support the body. You need a seat to hold the driver. You need an engine to accelerate, and so on. Every part in the car must work with the others to perform what they have been designed to do. RUN.

But, in order for this car to function efficiently, it also needs to be well maintained. It needs routine maintenance; and when something is broken, it needs to be fixed. Even if it is not required to be fixed, it still takes away from the overall driving experience. What’s the point in having a car if you don’t plan on taking care of it?

A company is no different. It also is created from many moving and functioning parts that make it whole. It too needs to be maintained and taken care of in order to run efficiently. If you put the time and effort into taking care of your vehicle, shouldn’t a company be putting the same time and effort into maintaining itself?

The major difference between taking care of your car and your company is how it is maintained and fixed. A car goes to a garage; a company uses internal communication.

Why is internal communication important?

It’s what can make or break any company or business. If part of a company is not running on the same page as the others, it simply won’t work. The pieces rely on each other, as with a vehicle.

In recent studies, 71% of employees feel as though business leaders don’t spend enough time explaining plans and goals. The same 71% say they have a difficult time communicating with their management team and business leaders. This common dilemma creates a block in the flow of vital information that both sides need to know and understand. Internal communication must be strong in both directions. Management needs employee input, effort and dedication, while employees need their business leaders to explain goals and changes in order to understand why certain decisions are being made.

Internal communication can cover a variety of topics, with information sharing being essential no matter the level of importance. If something is being shared, employees and management should pay attention to it. By having a strong internal communication practice, a company can reflect as a unit and create a two-way dialogue. This communication can motivate and inspire a workforce, but if practiced incorrectly (or not at all), it can damage the relationships in a workforce and create uneasiness and tension.                                                                                                                 

So, what is good internal communication?

Cookies and QuestionsSydney J. Harris, an American journalist, said, “Information is giving out. Communication is getting through.” Good internal communication makes sure everyone is not only receiving the information, but understanding it. After speaking with Jackson’s CMO, David Jones, a few major points stood out.

A company has to brand from the inside out, according to Jones. There is no way a company can communicate its brand and image to the outside world if the employees are unclear about the message. Every touchpoint is important. A brand is a sum of all the touchpoints, such as customer service, emails, brand look and feel, social media and so forth. Employees are critical to these touchpoints and must be trained and kept up-to-date on the company’s plans, goals and ideas in order to maintain consistency.

A company must also communicate through multiple channels, Jones says. People consume media and information differently. Some people check their email hourly, some daily and some twice a week. Others may only check their office mailbox once a month, but they could see the company social media every day. In order to disseminate information efficiently, it should be delivered in as many ways as possible and repeated as many times as possible. The more important something is, the more it needs to be brought up. These updates should also be consistent and regular so employees know when or where to check for them. The more communication there is with employees, the more it will foster upward communication. The constant communication will create a culture of trust and transparency in a company. A company needs its employees to not be afraid of asking why.

CMO-CFOA good internal communication team includes management, public and media relations, marketing, human resources and social psychology. It’s a huge undertaking that involves many aspects, but it is imperative to use these skills in order to create the best plan for your company.

At Jackson, finding the best strategy for internal communication came from internal communication. Every month, Jackson held a large staff meeting that followed a similar pattern each time. People began to grow tired of these meetings because they were long and not relevant to everyone. People felt compelled to go, but were losing valuable work time. Also, many already knew the information being shared and it became repetitive. So, the leadership team created a new plan.

They decided to have more frequent and less formal meetings that were shorter. Town hall meetings are held to share company updates. And other meetings are held on specific topics such as new business efforts or survey results. At these quick meetings, what needs to be discussed is done efficiently, with associates losing less work time.

Jackson also wanted its employees to be able to ask the leadership team questions in order to create a culture of trust and to cultivate upward communication. They put together a meeting called “Questions and Cookies” where associates were allowed to either submit questions via email before hand or ask the questions during the meeting. Upper management then answers questions to help employees gain a better understanding of what has been going on, all while everyone eats cookies. This fosters a casual and comfortable environment for employees to ask questions or voice concerns in an agreeable space.

Internal communication is everyone’s job.

Internal communication is something every company needs to practice. It is imperative for company growth and development as a whole. An engaged and informed workforce will feel more valued than a workforce that is not. A successful communication strategy will reinforce key company goals and values in order to help employees realize their professional aspirations, which benefits the entire team. Just as you keep your car well oiled and running, you need to keep your employees motivated and in-sync.