5 most common mistakes in internal communications

You know it's time to implement a cohesive internal communications strategy, but what should be a relatively simple process can cause as many problems as it solves. Here's our round up of the top 5 internal communications mistakes, and how to avoid them.

The smallest businesses can share information organically and very easily but larger enterprises with disparate teams who are aren't in the same office, or even in the same country can run in to trouble when it comes to communication. Messages get lost and no one knows what anyone else is doing. The result is duplication of effort, and unnecessary man hours spent trying to find information that should be freely available. You know it's time to implement a cohesive internal communications strategy, but what should be a relatively simple process can cause as many problems as it solves. Here's our round up of the top five internal comms mistakes, and how to avoid them.

#1. Don't be old fashioned

Ideas like 'cascading' (informing top management, who brief the next level down, etc.) and desk drops have no place in the modern office. Dripped down briefings get diluted resulting in the essence of the message getting lost and who needs another piece of paper that will end up in the recycling 0.5 seconds after receiving it? Instead the center piece to a well thought out internal communications strategy should be an intranet which allows all employees to view it from everywhere, on any device. Make it cloud based and all those satellite staff working from home, on site or with customers can see exactly the same page as their office based colleagues.

#2. Not having a plan

Failing to plan is, well, planning to fail. Deciding to make a conscious effort to communicate more is always a good idea, but what you say and how that communication happens is just as important. Make a list of the channels at your disposal - this might include the intranet, email, notes in payslips, internal messaging systems, face to face briefings, newsletters and the old classics, like the back of restroom doors. Understand which groups each method reaches. Then start with the business plan for the year. What do employees need to know and when? Drop in regular events like quarterly results and fit less time sensitive information around it.

#3. Too much information

By planning carefully, it's possible to avoid inundating staff with constant messages. Select channels wisely and send out only what people need to see. Better still, segment the audience appropriately so only the accounts team get the finance messages specific to them or only those attending the Christmas party get the note about dress code. Best practice internal communications should tell each employee what they need to know, not kill an hour of their day as they wade through a daily tranche of information.

#4. Failing to repeat, repeat, repeat

Remember that presentation skills workshop where they told you: "Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em, tell 'em, and tell 'em again"? The same mantra works in internal comms. Reinforcement is key to retaining information. So tease the message, tell the story and follow it up. For variety, use more than one channel so repeated information doesn't get boring.

#5. Not measuring results

As part of the planning process, work in metrics so you can effectively see how well campaigns are going. Track how many clicks articles on the intranet gets and whether that changes when you tease the story on another channel. Work an A/B split with a different headline served up to one half to see what wording resonates the most and survey staff for spontaneous recall of that day's intranet news stories.

Done right, good internal communications can increase productivity, save time and make employees feel better connected to their colleagues and the business. Forbes reports that "companies with highly effective communication practices enjoy 47% higher total returns to shareholders compared with the firms that are least effective at communicating".

So it's time to ask yourself – "Does my intranet do enough to facilitate the businesses' communication leads?" Then imagine an out of the box solution that can do it all and be up and running in six weeks – doesn't that sound good? And that's not all; Unily incorporates all the features that 80% of business users say they need in an intranet so the chances are it has what you need.

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