Internal communication refers to the ways you and your colleagues share information with one another, whether in person or remotely, verbally, or in writing. While external communication with customers, clients, and the general public is critical, internal communication is the backbone of a successful business.
According to Gartner, effective internal communication improves productivity by as much as 10% and can increase profits by up to 29%. Avoiding misunderstandings and contradictory messaging also is key to boosting employee morale and satisfaction. Here’s a closer look at the role of internal communication in your organization—and how you can improve it.
Challenges of internal communication across different channels
Today’s workforce uses a variety of communication channels to stay in touch. In addition to traditional face-to-face conversations and phone calls, your team now likely uses several digital channels to communicate, including email, instant messaging, video conferences, texting, and interactive work platforms like Google Docs and Google Sheets.
All of these communication channels allow teams to collaborate closely, even in a remote environment. But they also present unique challenges. For example, important details can be left out of a rushed instant message on Slack; comments to an author in a Google Doc can be taken the wrong way if they’re not explicit; and emails may not be read in full by recipients if they aren’t concise.
To overcome these challenges, it’s important to choose the right channel for your communication. To do this, consider the following:
- The type of communication you’re engaging in—whether upward, downward, or lateral. This is often worth considering when choosing which channel to use. For example, it might be fine to send a quick, casual text to a fellow manager or a direct report when you have a question that needs answering. But when asking a CEO for advice, it may be preferable to send a more formal email or even meet face to face.
- Your communication style—and that of your audience. Individuals with personal or intuitive styles, for instance, tend to prefer connecting in person, whereas analytical and functional communicators often respond well to written communications.
Choosing the best channel for a particular task and audience helps maximize the potential efficacy of your message. It means faster responses, fewer misunderstandings, greater levels of engagement, and better relationships between individuals and teams.
Aiding internal communication among team members and departments
The idea that internal communication has an impact on internal processes and relationships seems obvious. How it affects processes and relationships, however, may not be so apparent. Here’s what good internal communication facilitates:
- Promotes effective collaboration and project management by preventing information silos
- Improves employee morale by minimizing misunderstandings and empowering employees to ask for what they need to succeed
- Fosters innovation by providing employees with a safe environment in which to speak up and express novel ideas
- Encourages a culture of communication by promoting honesty and transparency
- Streamlines remote communications with guidelines to prevent unintentional overcommunication
Of course, the opposite is also true. Poor internal communication can have a significant detrimental effect on productivity as well as employees’ morale and mental health. This is why improving internal communication must be a top priority for your organization.
Good internal communication between teams is vital for overall company success. Here are a few ways to facilitate cross-departmental communication:
- Prevent communication silos proactively. Ensure everyone who will be involved in a project is included from the beginning, and encourage team members to attend cross-departmental meetings to promote solidarity and a free flow of information.
- Establish company-wide, high-level goals. This helps bring everyone together, regardless of department or title. Highlight how reaching these goals will benefit each and every team, and discuss how various collaborations between team members and departments will facilitate progress for all.
- Assemble a cross-functional team. Gathering individuals from disparate departments allows for a cross-pollination of ideas and methods that can make all teams stronger. Be sure to clarify each person’s role within the team and establish clear individual and team goals from the beginning.
- Encourage regular team meetings. Routine interactions between team members are critical to keeping lines of communication open and fostering a sense of unity, both within teams and on a company-wide scale.
The external impact of internal communication
Communications with individuals and groups outside of your organization can directly impact brand loyalty, visibility, reputation, and revenue. When internal communications are managed effectively, it creates a ripple effect that can positively influence external relationships with customers, third-party vendors, business partners, and even competitors.
Effective internal communication enhances customer relationships
While there is significant value in prioritizing employee satisfaction alone, it also tends to organically translate into more effective interactions with customers. It’s not hard to understand why: Happy people naturally exhibit more positive attitudes, and others are more likely to respond in kind.
Employees’ opinions about their company can also influence customer relationships. There is a growing public interest in how well companies treat their employees, and customers often look to employees’ opinions to inform their own buying decisions.
Consistent internal communication improves partner and vendor relationships
As effective communication practices become a regular part of your everyday internal operations, they will naturally begin to extend to external communications with groups such as third-party vendors.
Consistency, in particular, is key to nurturing these relationships. Consistent, on-brand communication naturally fosters a sense of leadership and authority that will encourage other companies and third-party vendors to trust in and collaborate with your organization.
Communication is a means of protecting your company’s voice. If you do so in a way that evokes respect and admiration, this will increase the perceived value of a partnership with your brand—which in turn will increase your brand reach.
Positive internal communication bolsters brand voice
The link between internal communication and marketing is profound, though it might not be an obvious one. When employees communicate internally with ease, that sense of satisfaction and high morale spills over into external communications with customers, partners, vendors, and even the general public.
After all, it is your employees who are ultimately the voice of your company. The more satisfaction and motivation your employees derive from their everyday internal tasks and communications, the more eager they will be to spread the good word to potential customers and future hires alike.
This positivity isn’t restricted to official marketing campaigns, either. Happy employees can make for powerful brand advocates, as they are more likely to recommend your products and services to others in their personal lives as well.
How to improve team communication
No matter the company, there is always room for improvement in internal communication. Here are a few steps you can take to start improving this for your team and company today:
- Define your expectations clearly regarding tone, language, and the use of various channels. A brand style guide can be especially helpful in sharing these expectations and maintaining consistency across all communications.
- Make it easy for team members to connect. Offer multiple channels and allow employees flexibility, whenever possible, to use the channels that best suit their communication style and preferences.
- Clarify each person’s role within the team. Teams work most efficiently and effectively when members know which individuals are best equipped to answer general questions or troubleshoot certain types of problems.
- Lead by example. Make sure management models good communication practices by being transparent, honest, direct, and respectful of others’ time. Avoid spamming workers with unnecessary messages and always include a call to action that clearly defines what response you expect to see.
- Have open discussions with your team about current communication practices, how they can be improved, and what benefits they can expect to see from doing so. Be willing to listen to feedback and ideas, and be ready to offer solutions to common or recurring challenges.
Grammarly Business can be a powerful tool for improvement in all internal communication. Grammarly’s built-in company style guides feature improves consistency across all channels by automatically checking messages against internal guidelines that you can customize to suit your business’ preferences and needs. Spelling and grammar checks minimize mistakes and the possibility of misinterpretation. And when you or your team need to ensure a pitch-perfect tone, the innovative tone detector instantly recognizes a wide range of tones and provides suggestions for improvement.
Improving team communication doesn’t only mean working better together; it also means maintaining more rewarding relationships, both internally and with external business partners, customers, and even competitors. These very relationships will enable your brand to build a stable foundation for sustainable success and growth for years to come.
A writing assistant like Grammarly Business makes it easy for you and your team to monitor, manage, and improve written internal communication across all channels. Contact us to learn more or get started with Grammarly Business today.