High-performance teams need exemplary communication to be successful. Good communication is critical for any relationship to flourish, overcome adversity, and survive long-term. When going through Navy SEAL training, students are taught to move, shoot, and communicate in stressful environments. Good communication builds trust and drives the team forward with a shared sense of purpose.
When I became an entrepreneur I quickly realized that communication is equally as important for business partnerships and companies as a whole to thrive. This is true for small businesses all the way to global corporations. In fact, the size of the business is typically directly proportional to the communication challenges it will face.
My digital marketing agency has 100 employees across two offices and we still face issues with communication. What about a global organization? Then you are weaving in obstacles faced by companies spread across multiple geographical locations, cultures, and languages. Effective practices for internal communications must be tuned to the cultural profiles of employees in their own countries.
When a company's internal communications are poor, it erodes trust. Studies show that when trust is low, it has a direct negative impact on efficiency, speed, and profitability. When communication is effective, trust is higher and therefore speed, efficiency and profitability increase.
One of our sayings in the SEAL teams is "pass the word." This simply means, tell us what's going on. Trust and communication are imperative for the rapid deployment of decision making and execution in combat. In a corporate environment, the general function of internal communications strategies are pretty similar across the board: to help the employees understand the vision, mission, values, and culture; to open the lines of communication between management and employees; and to forge a sense of community.
SEALs use various methods of verbal and nonverbal communication, which starts with training and preparation and includes meetings, briefings, after-action reviews, and technology. Corporations large and small can deploy similar tactics designed to best fit their size and culture.
Several ways to improve internal communication include:
Regular Meetings. Nobody wants to be in a situation of "death by meetings." But not having a rhythm of meetings will ensure poor communication. Meetings simply have to be well-structured, include only the necessary people, have a specific agenda, takeaways, and be time-bound.
Newsletters. One thing we have started doing at my company is an internal monthly newsletter. It's easy to do, but one person has to own this responsibility. Information in the newsletter can include but is not limited to employee accolades, upcoming events, notable wins, updates on various programs or software, new clients, and pictures from previous events. Pretty much anything that is worthwhile for employees to be kept apprised of.
An intranet. This is a great one-stop resource for employees to find information, content, documents, employee directories, FAQs, and much more. There are many open-source and out-of-the-box solutions that are easy to set up and require minimal maintenance. The key is in proper planning of the technical specifications and requirements so that you roll out a quality product to the company.
Surveys. Employee feedback is critical, and surveys offers an easy and anonymous method for collecting information. But remember to take them seriously. Let the team know what you hear them saying and how you are going to address their feedback, then follow through.
Face time. Never underestimate the power of in-person communication. Far too often people hide behind email. Employees need to pick up the phone or get out of their chairs and go talk to each other. Yes, even if they are all the way down the hall!
Culture. Make effective communication part of the culture. Lead by example.
The good news is that improving communication isn't that hard. But it takes commitment, consistency, and follow through from leadership, . Doing so will ensure an increase in trust, teamwork, efficiency, and profitability.