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Internal Communication in the Digital Age

Internal Communication in the Digital Age

In a digital reality as ours, the way people communicate with each other has undergone great changes. The way we process and disclose information is also different. Our time is valuable and everything runs faster.

Companies have changed and, with them, the professionals and their way of being in the organizations. The power paradigm has been transferred to customers and employees (internal customers), giving them a similar status and highlighting how companies are led, managed and operated.

Successful organizations understand that social media is the future to communicate with customers; on the other hand, more than ever, employees are the public face of their organizations and, through social networks, they are interacting with a large and influential public.

Managing how employees represent their organization while maintaining the responsiveness, authenticity and openness these channels require is the challenge management has to face.

Internal communication therefore takes on an even more critical role, becoming a reflection of the management model, the relevance of the business, and even the company’s strategy.

Internal communication for everyone

An internal communication strategy in our days has to accept the change in the behavior of the workforce, never forgetting that the power to communicate is now in the hands of everyone.

The internal communication process consists on the exchange of information between employees of a company in a dialogue that should include all team members.

The classic top-down organizational communication model no longer works because digital technology has created new networks and workflows that have changed the daily relationship between employees and between these employees and their leaders.

In addition, the content of communication is now less refined and planned and, in the end, everyone can create content.

Once employees have information about the business, they become more independent and are able to:

  • Participate in creating value;
  • Operate in a more strategic and faster way;
  • Start dialogue, discussion and debate with colleagues and leaders.

They shift from passive members of the organization to confident and dynamic partners.

In fact, transparency and knowledge sharing are fundamental when it comes to making people feel connected and giving voice to individuals in the workplace. Only by giving voice to employees is it possible to create a culture of internal content producers throughout the organization.

Internal communication in the digital age can, therefore, be a complement to major initiatives and to the growing commitment of the teams, especially with employee focused strategies. More motivated and happier professionals are, as a rule, more productive.

Walking on the clouds!

Whereas thirty years ago the main issues related to internal communication were distributed on paper, we nowadays walk virtually in the “cloud” when we receive internal communications.

Digital makes everyone more aware due to access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Therefore, the company’s communication must adapt itself to a mobile workforce that communicates mainly through mobile phones, which will increasingly require easily digestible content, and timely, personalized notifications that quickly reach the intended audience.

Companies have to understand that whatever platform is used (as better or more modern it may be), the usefulness of the platform will be proportional to the contents that are shared there.

In this sense, companies should allow their employees to communicate with each other through a variety of channels – preferably communication channels that are easily accessible to the teams and with interactivity, such as interactive blogs, emails and corporate social networks – eliminating any barriers that may prevent them from being in contact in an easy and instant way, but always with a view to stimulating discussion, increasing productivity and defending the company culture.

Digital isn’t everything…
The role of the Leader

Anyway, digital isn’t everything. Communicating is still about people as it relates to the way people connect and exchange information

Most companies today have digital ways to communicate with their employees, but in doing so they often eliminate the most credible channel: direct, face-to-face communication.

In companies that practice direct communication responsibility for its effectiveness is attributed to managers / leaders. On the other hand, in these companies, employees are more inclined to understand the organization’s objectives and demonstrate their commitment to these.

It is believed that successful companies:

  • Give great importance to internal communication;
  • Have an internal communication plan that works well;
  • Carry out evaluations frequently;
  • Use effective communication tools to share business objectives with employees;
  • Promote communication between leaders and employees.

The challenge is to get leaders to understand their responsibilities in the internal communication process. Effective communication needs to become a desired behavior for everyone in the organization, supported by management.

Although new technology and social networks are great for connecting people and stimulating them to share and thus learn and innovate, the question remains about their ability to, per si, motivate, encourage and create really ambassadors of the company.

In this way, although it can help organizational success through innovation, communication solely mediated by a computer is not a substitute for face-to-face communication.

In the workplace, direct communication is crucial. Communication between a leader, a manager or a supervisor, and the members of their teams is what constitutes the basis for other forms of communication.

How to lead and improve internal communication

Modernizing your internal communication processes can shape new habits or even employee behaviors, change routines, minimize misinterpretation, and improve the organizational climate.

Managers and leaders need to understand their audience, why they are communicating, without neglecting the context in which they communicate (organizational culture), and the appropriate channel / medium for communication.

Communication is essential for the commitment and motivation of employees. In this sense:

  • Encourage sharing of information. Disclose information that is of interest to the company, useful, correct and pertinent.
  • Communicate: don’t merely inform. It is necessary to promote dialogue, employee recognition, listen to suggestions and complaints
  • Invest in technology for effective communication. IOnline agenda systems, for example, offer specific resources to communicate in a shared way, involving all the team members of a project.
  • Conduct objective meetings.
  • Create a Newsletter where employees themselves produce informative content.
  • Create an integration package for new team members which, in addition to informing about the company's rules and policies, encourages communication by showing the right channels and making the new employee more confident.
  • Ask for and give feedback. A well-structured two-way communication avoids insecurity and dissatisfaction.
  • Encourage your team to ask questions. Promoting dialogue can avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
  • Encourage the exchange of ideas. From that may come great suggestions for the development of the company.

Organizational (internal) communications can either open up and nurture a discussion or debate with everyone within the company, as they may, in a worst-case scenario, become just a set of messages directed at people through multiple bureaucratic processes, producing an artificial feeling of connection and relationship.

It all depends on how the company wants to communicate and dialogue, and to do so, the internal environment of the organization has to be considered.

Effective internal communication and increased employee engagement will result in an organization that knows a lot more about its people – and people who know a lot more about their organization!

How can SWAT support you?

people and between these and your customer?

Contact us as we will be happy to show you how to involve your employees.

By developing strategies, guidelines, step-by-step implementation and training, we help everyone in the organization understand their own role in bringing the “message of the company” to the next level, far beyond internal communication.

Author: Paula Serra

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