If you want your new business to be efficient and productive, you need a strong foundation of internal communication. Unfortunately, communication systems often take a backseat to higher priorities in the initial stages of business planning and development.
To maximize your chances of business success, you’ll need to resist this temptation and make communication one of your highest priorities when launching your business. Listed below are some practical tips on how you can get there.
Evaluate your business communication environment.
Internal communication is going to mean different things for different types of businesses. Before you can develop a strategy that’s a good fit for you, you need to evaluate your business communication environment. Typically, that boils down to three things:
1. Office, remote, or hybrid?
How is your business going to operate? Are you going to have a conventional office, are you operating fully remotely, or are you trying to adopt a hybrid model? In an office setting, communication is easier and a bit more straightforward. In a remote environment, digital communication platforms are paramount to your success. In a hybrid model, you have the potential to get the best of both worlds. However, you’ll also have to deal with the challenges of navigating both in-person and digital communication in a streamlined way without overlap.
2. Organizational culture.
Next, you’ll need to think about your organizational culture in the values that you want to be present in your workplace environment. How do you want people to communicate with each other? What is the “vibe” of the office? Do you lean toward formality or informality? How does the context of the interaction change this dynamic?
3. Plans for the future.
Finally, you’ll need to think about your plans for the future. Managing internal communication when your team only has three people is trivially easy. But what happens when you have 100 employees at the end of the year? Or 1,000 employees at the end of next year? The communication strategies that led you to success with three people are going to need to change. You’re going to need a plan for how to change them.
Choose and integrate a range of communication tools.
One of your best strategies is going to be choosing and integrating a wide range of different communication tools.
In today’s digitally dominant business environment, there is no single communication channel that works equally well for all applications. To be successful, you’ll need a combination of traditional phone calls, emails, instant messages, project management platform interactions, and more.
Part of your responsibility will be choosing the right platforms for your needs, optimizing for intuitiveness, efficiency, and cost. You’ll also need to make sure your employees will be able to use these tools quickly and easily.
But an equal responsibility will be making sure that these communication tools are integrated properly. In other words, do people know when to use each tool appropriately?
You should set standards in place to officially document the appropriate use of each channel, such as when it’s appropriate to use a project management system versus when it’s appropriate to reach out via email.
Document communication flow and best practices.
In line with this, you’ll want to document the ideal communication flow and some best practices for internally communicating.
Depending on your organizational culture and the number of employees you have, this could be minimalistic or robust. At a minimum, you should explain your communication philosophy and list your core values of internal communication. This could include things such as conciseness, directness, mutual respect, and effective organization.
Set an example.
The best way to encourage better communication habits within your team is to set an example.
Whether you realize it or not, people are going to be looking at you as a leader when formulating their own communication approaches. If you’re conscientious about which communication channels you use and when you use them, and your messages are always polished and precise, your employees are going to be incentivized to follow in your footsteps.
The same is true of other leaders in your organization, so make sure you train them adequately.
Collect and distribute feedback.
Finally, don’t neglect the power of feedback. Feedback may be your most indispensable tool in the pursuit of improving internal communication.
Collecting employee feedback will help you understand what the team’s biggest concerns and communication hurdles are. As a result, you can make positive changes that mitigate them. Giving employees feedback will help you coach individual team members to become better communicators.
Better communication doesn’t happen overnight. Try not to get discouraged if your initial internal communication strategy doesn’t work out the way you hoped. Instead, try to figure out where your points of failure are and come up with new strategies for overcoming them.