When you get to a certain size of company, controlling communications can be tough. Even if you’ve got 20 people, they’re probably broken up in different departments and focusing on their own job at hand. But, they probably want to know what’s going on in the company and what other departments are doing. And you shouldn’t assume that everyone talks to each other. Keeping the message of what’s going on in the company should be under your control so you know exactly how it’s translated.
At my e-mail marketing company, VerticalResponse, we’ve gone through a growth spurt in the past few years and as a result we’ve experienced a number of communications roadblocks. Years ago, we had the issue where some managers communicated to their teams while others didn’t, so we had part of the company in the know and others who weren’t. This caused “water cooler” chat (which will happen in any case) that was, frankly, untrue.
So we started to think about all of the ways we could have a hand in what was being communicated and how often we should be doing it. It’s different for every company, but what we’ve found is that over communicating can be a good thing.
Here are some things we do:
All-hands meetings – All of the departments talk about what they’ve accomplished in the previous month/quarter and what they’re going to shoot for in the next. We shoot for all-hands meetings at least three times per year. We can’t always afford to get everyone together, so sometimes we have a webinar. What we’ve found is that people are more apt to ask questions when it’s a webinar versus an in-person discussion.
Company e-mail newsletter – Every month each department gives an update on the goals for the previous month and the accomplishments or non-accomplishments and why.
Quarterly happy hours/lunch gatherings – VerticalResponse gets together in a local restaurant and all departments get to know one another and chat, or gets together for a lunch.
Suggestion box – Our company has an online anonymous suggestion box as well as locked boxes in the common areas that foster communications from those who might be a bit shy to otherwise offer.