Communication always takes place, whether we want it to or not. You've probably heard the famous phrase "You can't not communicate" by Paul Watzlawick, right? What may sound nonsensical at first, is not. Watzlawick means that we communicate with everything we say or don't say, what we do or don't do or how we look or don't look. So we reveal certain information. Even putting on a jacket is communication, because with it we communicate that we are cold right now. But of course, that alone is not enough to pass on sound information about certain processes in the company. This is where sophisticated internal communication is needed. What's that again, you ask? Don't worry, we'll enlighten you!
What is internal communication?
Internal communication describes the verbal and non-verbal transfer of information within a specific group, for example among the employees of a company. The term "employee communication" is therefore often used.
A distinction is made here between formal and informal internal communication.
The formal communication is managed by the company. It takes place with the help of various communication instruments, which we will present to you in more detail below. The informal communication on the other hand, describes exchanges that take place independently of the company's influence. The best example of this is gossip from the break room.
Both formal and informal communication pursue different goals. At the top of the list, of course, is the sharing of information. But direct communication between all those involved is also promoted. A better feedback culture is created and conflicts can also be reduced.
If there is particularly intensive communication within the company, employees feel that they are an important part of the company and develop a more intensive bond. It is easier for them to identify with and support the company. Satisfaction increases. As a result, the general working atmosphere improves and work becomes much easier.
The 4 pillars of internal communication
Internal communication is based on four pillars: Information, dialog, Motivation and knowledge transfer. Probably the most important is the information pillar. As long as it is not in place, the other three pillars cannot be built up either. If the transfer of information to the right people functions smoothly, the second pillar can continue: dialog.
Communication is not a one-way affair. It is only successful if the recipient actually receives the information and understands it correctly. Only then can the recipient respond accordingly and a goal-oriented dialog develop. If this takes place completely transparently and also efficient takes place, it involves all employees. This is because there is no hidden content that can only be understood by people who have certain prior knowledge that was not part of this transparent communication. Everyone feels taken seriously and valued as an integral part of the company - this promotes motivation.
This in turn encourages employees to share their expertise, which brings us to the fourth pillar of knowledge transfer. It not only ensures that everyone has the same level of knowledge, but also strengthens cohesion at the same time.
A real example of internal communication
At this point, we would like to make the topic of internal communication a little more tangible for you. That's why we're now introducing you to a company that has successfully gone through this process: the Otto Group. The company's goal was to introduce new ways of working and thinking. In doing so, it launched Culture Change 4.0.
The core of this change was to prepare all 52,000 employees for an open-ended and participatory change process. After all, numerous new challenges were just around the corner. The digital transformation The development of the company continued to progress, the tasks became more complex and the customers' wishes more specific. All these points now had to be met.
The Otto Group decided to stimulate the necessary rethinking with the help of an internal, decentralized communications strategy. This enabled the company to focus on the issues that were really relevant to the workforce.
With the help of local communicators, the Otto Group created an important infrastructure, thanks to which the team was able to realize the new work culture. It received helpful content, which it could prepare in a target group-oriented manner within the framework of internal communication. This showed them the way to a successful integration of the new ways of working and thinking in the company.
Instruments of internal communication
When it comes to internal communication, companies have been focusing primarily on digital channels for several years now. We'll now introduce you to a few of them:
Emails: Informing specific employees in a targeted manner, forwarding important attachments, obtaining feedback
Team Messenger: Chats for fast communication within a department or team in real time
Intranet: a closed communication system in which the complete exchange of information is bundled, for example in the form of chats, internal knowledge databases and more
Internal Newsletter: Collective briefing of all employees on selected topics at regular intervals
Video conferencing: digital meeting of all involved, no matter where they are, including the possibility of split screens to show certain processes visually.
How internal communication can be improved with these 5 tips
Internal communication will not be perfect from one day to the next. It will improve step by step, provided that your company and you work on it. With a few adjustments, you can take your internal communication processes to the next level!
1. analyze the current state
If you want to change something, you first have to analyze where you are right now. This applies to everything in life, not just to internal communication. What is already working well and what urgently needs to be improved?
Involve your employees in this analysis as well. They see things from a completely different perspective than you do and can give you valuable tips on where your internal communication still needs to be improved.
2. use the right communication tools
As you have already read, there are numerous Communication modelsthat are available to you. So you have a great choice! If you want to improve internal communication in your company, focus on a few models that you and your team can implement particularly well.
Don't overwhelm your employees with too much of a mix of tools. Rather, select the strategies that really Potential have to take your internal communication to the next level. In the same breath, say goodbye to all the tools that have not yet proven effective.
3. lead by example
Change is not easy for everyone. If you change your internal communications, your employees need a role model to guide them. And that's exactly the role model you should be. Show them how they can use the chosen communication models and motivate them to move forward together.
4. put internal before external communication
Internal communication is the only way to ensure that all employees are always aware of everything that is happening and know about all new developments. They are the first people you inform about what's going on in the company. Then it's the turn of business partners, customers and other external parties. In this way, you show your employees that they come first for you. This creates trust and at the same time strengthens the feeling of belonging.
5. give your employees a voice
For internal communications to run smoothly, direct conversations must be able to take place between you and your employees. Give them a chance to share and give you feedback regarding internal processes that you may be missing. You should also take advantage of this opportunity yourself, for full transparency. Communicate clearly what you expect from your employees and play your cards close to your chest.
The most common mistakes in internal communication
Wherever people communicate with each other, errors can also occur. The results are Dissatisfaction among employees and inefficiency. We'll show you which mistakes are most common in internal communications so you can do better!
You do not communicate transparently enough
Only if all employees are aware of all new developments can they implement them. However, if you only update some of them at a time, you run the risk that the others will not receive all the information or that important facts may even be passed on incorrectly. In addition, the part of the employees that you do not personally receive will quickly feel excluded. This is anything but conducive to cohesion and a sense of belonging.
Your employees do not use the communication channels
Just because you see certain communication channels as effective doesn't mean your employees share your opinion. If they don't understand their purpose or simply don't know how to use them, the communication channels are not effective.
Internal communication is disorganized
If you go about your work in a completely disorganized manner, you will unnecessarily prolong the journey to your goal. In the worst case, it will turn into an odyssey and you will never succeed in improving internal communication in your company. You need a carefully developed concept that leaves no questions unanswered. Your employees need to know which information they can transmit or receive via which channel.
The difference between internal and external communication
"Internal" means nothing other than "inside". "External", on the other hand, means "outside". Internal communication therefore takes place within a certain framework - in this case, within your company, i.e. among your employees.
External communication, on the other hand, takes place outside this framework and therefore involves business partners, customers, the press and more.
Get your internal communication in shape!
Internal communication is crucial for the transfer of information within your company, the sense of belonging of your employees and their motivation, just to name a few points. Want to learn how to improve it and move your company forward? Then take a look at our business coaching tools!
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