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Does a successful internal communication system result in a motivated Workforce?
1.1 Internal communications:
- It is a generic expression for all communication (formal and informal) that an organization undertakes with its close stockholders — i.e. those people with whom it has a relationship that requires support, principally direct/indirect employees and members. The main purpose of formal internal communications is to inform employees or members of the direction and performance of the organization (and team) to which they belong.
The profession of internal communications builds on fundamental principles of other disciplines like human resources (HR), marketing, project management and media planning. As a result it often gets adopted in organizations under different labels: employee communications, employee engagement, internal marketing, company communications, staff communication, etc. Responsibility can also reside within different functions: marketing, corporate communications, transformation, HR, CEO office, etc.
In common with other communication professions, there are different areas of specialism within internal communications: channel management, speech-writing, change communications, HR communications, project communications, event management, social media, intranets, etc
1.2 Motivation work force:
- A motivated workforce is one which individuals and teams generally strive hard and successfully to achieve the goals set t them. They perform at a high level and make significant effort to help you to achieve your business strategy. A committed work force is one in which individuals identify with the purpose, goals and values of the organization, wish to remain with it and are prepared to put themselves out on its behalf. Motivation is about staff focusing their effort on achieving specific targets. That is, what staffs do? It also is about getting your staff to behave in the right way. That is, how they do things.
Key indicators include:
• Management leadership
• Performance Management and Recognition
• Work Management
You can motivate people with:
• varied and interesting work - perhaps giving the opportunity to travel
• high-quality training and development - e.g. encouragement to study for professional qualifications
• an 'open door' culture in which managers are approachable
• respect for a good work-life balance - e.g. offering the opportunity for flexible working
• fairness at work, including promoting equality and diversity
• proactive and regular communication
• regular appraisal and positive feedback - restating business objectives and recognizing your staff's contribution
• requests for feedback, either in person or via staff surveys, on how employees feel about their roles, the support they get, and improvements to the business
• the chance to socialize with colleagues at organized events
• recognition and reward for ideas or competitive intelligence
Commitment is concerned with the loyalty of staff t to the organization and feeling good about it can be increased through creating and maintaining a positive working experience.
Key indicators include:
• Job Satisfaction
• Employee involvement
• Training and development
• Working environment
• Working relationship
To be effective employee opinion surveys should be conducted on a regular basis. This could be six-monthly or annually. They do involve extra effort on behalf of the staff in term of taking time to complete the survey.
As little as a few decades ago, managers believed that the behind the scenes dealings of their companies were of no concern to employees. Thus, information that may have motivated employees or inspired their job interest was not available to them as they were merely considered another cog in the organizational wheel'. Since that time, management science has formed a basis for analyzing management style and its influence on communication and motivation.
Most organizations, be they public or private understand the importance of strategic communication with customers and stakeholders. Hence we have marketing and communication specialists to produce communication plans for external use. In the private sector that means more income; in the public sector it means better public relations, and better use of government services through client information.
Many organizations also understand the importance of developing strategic plans to guide longer term decision-making. The thinking is that without knowing where we want to be (and how we are going to get there), we can't coordinate organizational resources so that we get to where we want to go. Frequently, communication methodologies for communicating with customers and the public are included in strategic planning.
However, few organizations address internal communication in the same way. Determining what should be communicated to staff, when it should be communicated, and how it should be communicated is often left up to the decisions of individuals made when there seems to be a need. In other words internal communication strategies are developed, reactively, when there is a crisis or major event that clearly requires addressing communication issues. Where communication is planned out, it is often around upheavals like major corporate or organization change, layoffs and downsizing, and technological change. However, once the initiating focus has been eliminated communication tends to go back to an unorganized incoherent process.
2.1 Principle of Internal Communication
Some basic principles to keep in mind when creating your strategic internal communication plan are:
Develop a long-term focus
Identify clear values for your organization
Define the specific goals for your internal communication strategy
Use comprehensive, pervasive methods
Be consistent in your messages
- All information should be communicated in an open and honest fashion. While the positive aspects of any news or decision should always be clearly communicated. Message senders should not be afraid to admit that they have changed their mind or have been mistaken. As a result, senders should be prepared to receive contradictory or critical views and should be ready to engage in debate with staff. In the light of freedom of information Act, all information should be open to access by any members of staff.
- Information should be clearly relevant to the audience they are delivered to. Each message should answer the question that many staff has - what in it for me? The needs of the audience should be put in all communications activity and information should be tailored to ensure that it is relevant to different audiences. If the recipient is expected to act on the information they have received this should be made clear to them.
- Simple, Straightforward language should be used in all written and verbal communication. The use of jargon and management speak should be avoid. Messages should be carefully thought out and constructed so that the point of clear. Any actions you expect staff to take as a result should be clear. Messages should not be overly long or complicated and all communication should be consistently of a high quality.
- All communication should be clear in its aims. Message senders need to tell their audience in direct terms the status of the information they are communicating. Here just four examples.
188.8.131.52 A policy decision:
- A decision taken by one of the university's three committees which applied to the whole university and must be considered by all staff.
184.108.40.206 A Mandatory Decision:
- either taken by the university, or imposed by an outside authority.
- Information which is in the discussion stage and is open to consultation by staff. If this is the case, the message sender needs to be clear as to where feedback can be sent.
220.127.116.11 Work in progress:
- Where is it necessary to keep staff updated about a major projector policy which is still in development.
2.1.5 Planned and timely:
- Information should be prioritized and planned so as to avoid information overload, duplication of messages or long periods of non-communication. Communication with staff should not be an afterthought or an add-on but should be at the heart of all planning within university. This will ensure that information is given to staff when they need it- not when decision makers happen to think about it, or in the worst case scenario, when staff learns of major decision via the regional or national media. To this end, all major committees or decision making groups should develop an explicit communications strategy which outlines how information will be fed to staff via existing channels of communication.
2.1.6 Two- way communication:
- A one way conversation is very boring wherever possible, communication should be two way. All communication should be ensure that there are as many opportunities for listening and asking questions as there are sending messages out. These opportunities should be opened for all staff. Where these opportunities are offered the message owner should ensure that good quality and rapid answers can be given to the questions and issued rose. In this way communication will be positively encouraged and staff will feel that they can influence the development of relevant strategies, policies and procedures at a university and local level.
3.0 The advantages of Internal Communication
We know that some of the most successful companies and corporations create a workforce that understands the mission, goals, values and procedures of the organization. The intent of creating such cultures is not to dominate or control employees, but to aim them at a set of common goals on which they can act every day. This brings coherence to the workplace, and allows better coordinated action. By clearing up ambiguity in what's, how's, and why's, the common culture permits employees to act with empowerment. When we have staff that understands the basic values and purposes of an organization, we give them the opportunity to make decisions that fall within those parameters. That means, for example, that more decisions can be made at the line level, reducing micro-managing. When your organization is communicating effectively with its internal stakeholders, whether they are employees, management or volunteers, it develops a cohesive culture where everyone is focused on the same goals and has the same objectives. By working within a cohesive culture, your stakeholders can work more efficiently together and collaborate more effective.
Clearly, if we are to create such a common culture, we need to harness all of our organization's communication resources to achieve the purpose. Before we talk about that, let's look at some other advantages to having a coherent, shared organizational culture.
• Permits employees to make more decisions online since they have the tools and knowledge needed to make the right decisions.
• Encourages a sense of identification, on the part of staff, with the goals, mission and procedures of the organization, which can result in a sense of "making a difference".
This can have direct impact on effort and efficiency.
• Has the potential for reducing day-to-day conflict. Much conflict is generated by conflicting ideas on what is important to the organization often an indicator that the people involved do not share a common vision or understanding.
• Helps staff feel a part of the organization.
When we look at organizations that use their common culture as a strategic advantage, what we find is that they create that culture through the use of very strategic, coordinated communication strategies. They use multiple methods, consistently. Their training supports their cultural goals, as does their written communication (e.g. newsletters, billboards, slogans, etc). Their management communicates consistently with common messages in a number of forums (e.g. performance management, department or sub-organization meetings, award and recognition programs, etc). And perhaps most importantly, management behavior is consistent with the messages echoed via other communication methodologies.
4.0 Internal communication strategy
There are two sides of strategy in internal communications. In the first instance there is organization's strategy — what it hopes to achieve and how it plans to go about achieving it. That strategy will be supported and, to some extent, delivered through effective internal communications.
In this context internal communication can help on several different levels:
• Tell: simply informing people of the direction, non-negotiable
• Sell: anticipating some form of backlash, requiring some persuasion
• Consult: seeking specific areas of input to the decision-making process
• Involve: seeking varying degrees of involvement and co-creation
Secondly, and more importantly, internal communications needs a strategy of its own. It should be positioned more than a simple plan of tactical interventions in support of business activities. The strategy should consider the following:
• Market: What does the organization know about its audiences' needs? How should its audiences be segmented?
• Message: What is it the organization's message is trying to achieve? In what tone should it be conveyed?
• Media: Which channels work best for the different audience segments? How will it maximize reach and cut-through? Are there clear editorial guidelines for each?
• Measurement: Are there clearly defined success criteria? What are the leading and lagging measures? As well as informing all of the other three M's, it should be used to demonstrate value and measures of performance (rate of return, message penetration, hit rates, quality of feedback, etc)
The strategy will inform the best way to organize effective communications
The development of a strategic internal communication strategy and its implementation can provide a number of benefits to organizations. To achieve those benefits we need a coordinated, comprehensive, long term communication approach. Effective communications require the active commitment and endorsement of senior managers. It is not enough simply to develop a 'vision statement' or formulate in general terms the values by which the company lives. Behavior is what counts. Managers must be seen to behave in a manner that is consistent with the ethos they are promoting. Communication applied to development initiatives is still too often limited to activities aimed at informing the stockholders or the general public following the typical and dated top-down approach. Government counterparts and project managers are often not used or ready to democratize the decision making process, but are more interested in accelerating it. However, the budget, time and effort devoted to communication will almost certainly be worthwhile. Tele business relying on a mix of adequate telecommunications infrastructure, a quality workforce with reasonable wage levels and corresponding linguistic skills, such requisites are today available in other countries, particularly in the developing world. The workforce skills have to be permanently upgraded so as to satisfy the requirements of new applications. The internal communication techniques can inform and encourage policymakers to base their decisions on a clear understanding of beneficiaries' perspectives from the beginning of a development initiative. Such communication not only needs to be carefully planned and implemented but must also be properly integrated with emergency management activities and operations therefore effective internal communication is therefore a key responsibility of public health professionals and information officers, especially during emergency.
Effective media communication during public health emergencies (Google book) By Randall N. Hyer, Vincent T. Covello pg 4 published 2007
Information and communication technologies and rural development (Google book) By Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development pg 76 published July 2001
The role of communication in large infrastructure: the Bumbuna Hydroelectric (Google book) By Leonardo Mazzei, Gianmarco Scuppa, World Bank pg 39 published June 2006
Strategic Communication for Privatization, Public-Private Partnerships and Private Participation in Infrastructure Projects (Google book) By Daniele Calabrese World Bank published March 2008 pg 39
http://www.uneed2.com/assets/Summary_Guide_to_Employee_Opinion_Surveys.pdf dtd. 7/10/09
http://www.campus.manchester.ac.uk/medialibrary/internal-comms/ic-principles.pdf dtd. 10/10/09.
http://performance-appraisals.org/Bacalsappraisalarticles/articles/comstrat.htm dtd 7/10/09
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_communications#Internal_communication_strategy dtd 7/10/09
http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Communication-Organisation/165925 dated 14/10/09.