Internal communication is incredibly underrated. Done consistently and effectively, it helps to empower your team and ensure that everyone is working collaboratively towards a common goal. To take some inspiration, check out these seven companies with great internal communications which contributes to their massive success.
To read more about each internal communication story, click on one of the headings below.
- TED - Short Durations
- 3M - Free Time
- Virgin - Innovative Spaces
- Microsoft - Ralph the Chicken
- Experian - TED Approach
- Thomson Reuters - #dare2disrupt
- Netflix - Internal Memos
Long meetings aren’t always the most productive when it comes to communicating internally. Your team could be watching the clock tick by, not contributing or even not wanting to communicate with each other because they feel being stuck in a room for hours every single day is long-winded and counterproductive.
That’s something TED have implemented. Research has shown that our attention span is between 10-18 minutes, so innovative organisations like TED have decided that the most effective duration to communicate in meetings is 18 minutes - maximum.
The point of internal communications is that your team can come together and create some innovative ideas. Although having a purpose and agendas in meetings are important, it’s not always possible without a little bit of wiggle room and that’s where 3M’s 15 percent programme comes into play.
3M created this initiative to allow its employees paid time out of their working day to communicate and generate ideas while pursuing creative endeavours. Google actually took a leaf out of their book, too. They switched it to 20 percent free time and that famously led to popular creations like Google Earth and Gmail, so a lot can happen when given the time.
Not every meeting is going to be an exciting one, so switching up means of communication is vital and that’s something Sir Richard Branson emphasises. He suggests that innovative ideas can only come when you’re in innovative spaces - so you won’t see Virgin having all meetings inside their offices.
Image Credit: Virgin
Instead, he prefers to have meetings in a park or a cafe that will inject a breath of fresh air. This can help to produce new ideas and ways of thinking and while not everyone can jump on a superyacht to host meetings, simply heading outside or using a different space isn’t a terrible alternative.
Communication in meetings shouldn’t be like lectures. While it’s important to hear from everyone there, they can take a while but a team at Microsoft has come up with a method to ensure that each person is afforded airtime.
To ensure effective communication, a team at Microsoft uses Ralph, a rubber chicken, to throw around the group to the speaker of the moment. While it sounds quite simple for a groundbreaking company, it does help to keep the balance of speaking and listening when communicating within teams and not battling to be heard over everyone else.
Experian’s internal communications team never really came together to understand the goals they wanted to achieve - nobody really communicated that. To inspire the workforce and emphasise internal communication, Experian unified people from their different markets to communicate their values and culture to their workforce of over 17,000.
Image Credit: Glassdoor
This resulted in the emergence of Experian LIVE - a TED-style event which created connections between leaders and everyone else in the company. This was followed by the launch of Experian TV.
Thomson Reuters found themselves in a bit of a rut when there wasn’t enough importance on innovation and the challenge they faced was getting their employees to fall in love with innovation. That’s where they formed the #dare2disrupt campaign which was aimed to get the business comfortable with innovation.
They tried a handful of internal communication tactics - regular team lunches, inspiration sessions, startup bootcamps, innovation challenges and more. By implementing this campaign, they’ve already seen an upturn in the number of requested innovation projects which suggests their internal communication methods helped to get their 50,000-plus workforce to buy-in.
In some organisations, having top-level management involved can make internal communication in much larger businesses quite difficult. Although Netflix are famous for their out-of-the-box thinking, they’ve kept it quite simple when it comes to communicating with management internally.
Firstly, board members periodically attend monthly and quarterly meetings, but they only observe. Along with this, communication with management only comes in the form of short, online memos where questions are answered, essentially making it a living document. Netflix have also credited this as a meaningful contribution towards their performances in recent years.
How to Put it Into Action at Your Own Agency
These global enterprises have managed to craft some cutting-edge and innovative ways to improve internal communication. Just because they’re more well known, however, it doesn’t mean you can’t take inspiration yourself to improve your own communication.
Check in With Your Team Regularly
Meet with your team in person regularly in person to get their thoughts on tasks, workload, your company as a whole and anything. It’s a chance for them to voice their opinion and it can go a long way to improve internal communication as well as empowering them in their roles.
Have an Open Door Policy
While your employees might be comfortable communicating with the wider team, communicating with management can be daunting. Make them feel comfortable with an open door policy where employees feel comfortable bringing anything to your attention at any time. It improves internal communication and makes you more approachable.
Plan External Events
Nothing hinders communication more than employees in the company that haven’t truly met each other. So, give employees an opportunity to meet outside of work hours by planning non-work social events. and Whether it’s drinks after work or a themed party night, it can go a long way to strengthen relationships.
Invest in Internal Communication Tools
Nothing can beat face-to-face communication, but that’s not always possible with internal or even external teams. That’s why you should also consider investing in the right software, such as Slack, or another type of work chat app. It’s not the only platform out there, but it’s commonly used by businesses worldwide as it has plenty of tools built-in that make for easy and effective communication.
If you want a bigger list of internal communication tools you should consider investing in, check out this blog.
Get Outside The Office
Just like Branson doesn’t like staying indoors, come up with ways in which you and your team can head out of the office when possible. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of scenery to boost morale and perk everyone back up - even if it’s to relocate your team outside to collaborate on a project for a little while.
Celebrate Your Achievements
It’s important you unwind a little and celebrate your achievements after all of the hard work you and your team put in. It’s a great way to show everyone how much impact they’ve had, how much you value them and exactly what communication and collaboration can achieve. Plus, the odd celebration here and there would be great for morale.
Get Ideas From Everyone
Don’t just single out the same people to get ideas because they’ve given brilliant suggestions before. Give everyone a fair chance regularly to show that you value their input - and you might actually get some fantastic ideas by doing it rather than making a group feel excluded.
To put it into perspective as to how ideas can work, Starbucks discovered new menu items after they noticed some of their employees talking about them. After some research, they put the items into regular rotation on their menus within 24 hours. So, communication and collaboration can work by listening to everyone.
Avoid Communication Overload
As important as communication is for your internal team, overloading information can have the complete opposite effect. Less can be more when it comes to internal communication so keeping things short, simple and to the point can have a better and lasting impact.
That might mean sending fewer internal newsletters or memos, showing metrics less frequently and getting rid of those hourly meetings every single day.
Encourage Cross-Departmental Communication
If your internal team is split into smaller teams, then encourage each team to communicate with each other. It’s a chance to get teams to learn from each other to find out more about what they do, hold Q&A or training sessions and more, all with the bigger plan of having them all communicate.
At the end of the day, it’ll help to stop teams from feeling isolated from one another.
Get Expert Help
If you need a good place to get started with implementing tactics to improve internal communication, then getting in touch with experts that specialise in this area is beneficial. For example, HubSpot has consultants that specifically work with their partner agencies in several ways. Partners are allocated a dedicated contact for operation and for sales, respectively.
This helps improve your online presence, providing value in general as well as helping to improve internal communication through the right means of training. It’s important that the right type of culture is brought in, so you can continue implementing it over time.
Improved Communication Leads to a More Efficient Business
Improving your internal communication is critical when it comes to running an effective business. You need to take meetings into consideration, phone calls, applications, emails and so much more - as well as how to utilise them properly.
If you want to know more about the importance of communication and how you can become an expert in it, download our free comprehensive eBook by clicking on the link below.