Communication is an essential aspect of any successful workplace. But communication is not just about exchanging information; effective communication enhances teamwork, fosters innovation, and boosts productivity.
However, despite knowing these things, many organizations struggle to communicate effectively internally and externally. But first, let’s drill down on internal and external communications.
Internal communication can be defined as any peer-to-peer discussions between people in the company. It could be exchanging information about a customer, collaborative talks among teams about ongoing projects, meeting requests, or company-wide information such as a newsletter, announcement, or bulletin.
External communication would be discussions with people outside the organization, such as client emails or phone calls, customer service, investor relations, or talks with vendors, contractors, etc.
Both types of communication are two-way discussions, with one party relaying information to the other. The parties involved determine whether those comms are internal or external.
In today’s blog post, we will dive deeper into internal and external communication, outline their purpose and benefits, and offer strategies to improve and enable them. We will also discuss common challenges to effective communication and offer best practices that managers and HR leaders can use to encourage better communication practices internally and externally.
The importance of effective communication in organizations
Clear, effective communication is essential to efficient business operations. Parties must be able to communicate effectively and clearly to be understood; without that benefit, little will be accomplished.
Companies prioritizing best communication practices are more productive and innovative and tend to have a higher satisfaction rating among staff and customers. Happy employees feel valued and tend to stay in their jobs, work harder, and enhance the organization’s value. Satisfied customers are a gift that keeps on giving, as their loyalty builds bottom-line value over time.
So, how can your organization enhance and encourage better communication practices? Let’s find out!
Purpose, channels, and strategies for internal communication
There are many benefits to improving internal communication: enhanced teamwork and cooperation, increased creativity and innovation, improved problem-solving and decision-making, boosted employee engagement and satisfaction, and a more cohesive and productive organization are just a few.
Organizations should promote openness and transparency within teams and throughout the leadership hierarchy to improve internal communication. This can be done by establishing clear goals and roles, fostering cross-departmental interactions, using collaboration tools, celebrating successes, and leading by example.
Additionally, organizations should always encourage feedback and active listening. Doing so makes employees feel valued, and ideas are more likely to be exchanged.
Bring your people together
Channels of internal communication
Here are a few internal communication channels typical to most companies:
In-person communication between two or more individuals.
Intranet and internal portals to connect on company issues and topics and to access relevant content.
Team meetings and town halls to discuss matters pertinent to several individuals or the whole company.
Strategies for improving internal communication
As you can imagine, all of the above communication methods fall short of their purpose if a two-way approach is not prioritized. However, which methods are to be used for what purposes should also be understood. Employees need to know what’s expected of them before they can respond, which also means they need access to the technology and training required to use each method effectively.
Transparency: clarity in why communications are initiated and what purpose they serve.
Regular updates and feedback to let employees know their communications are valued.
Employee engagement initiatives to encourage communication and collaboration.
Let’s now move on to external comms.
Purpose, channels, and strategies for external communication
External communication refers to how an organization communicates with its outside stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, and investors.
Effective external communication is essential to building trust and credibility with these stakeholders and will mitigate misunderstandings.
Prioritizing excellence in external communications helps attract and retain customers, enhance the organization’s reputation, increase brand awareness, and gain a competitive edge in the market. If your company is a pleasure to do business with, you won’t have to work hard to gain new customers—or employees.
Organizations should define clear messaging that aligns with their branding to improve external communication. Using various communication channels, such as social media, blogs, and other platforms, to engage with stakeholders helps to build trust and authority.
Additionally, organizations should actively listen to feedback and provide timely and relevant information to enhance their external communications. Doing so shows that you pay attention and genuinely care what the public thinks.
External communication channels
Here are a few examples of external communication channels:
Website. A company’s website is often the first customer interaction with a company. Your web copy, branding, and the information you share are critical to making that connection meaningful.
Social media. Social channels are a way to show your brand’s personality as you connect and engage with a broader audience. Staying current and active on your social pages encourages people to join the discussion and may improve conversions.
Press releases and media relations are outgoing strategies to announce events, product launches, or other newsworthy items. It’s a way to get your brand in front of a mainstream audience and could lead to significant gains in reputation.
Advertising and marketing campaigns are paid, branded initiatives that require close alignment with all other communication channels, including your website and all internal departments.
Customer support and relations ensure your customers and outside stakeholders feel valued. Whether they need information or support, your customer service directly reflects brand values.
Strategies for effective external communication
Here are three best practices to ensure an effective external communication strategy:
Use Clear and Consistent Messaging. Consistency is critical when communicating with outside stakeholders and customers. Communication policies, methods, and messaging must align with brand values regardless of who responds.
Understanding Your Audience. Most companies have several audiences they cater to for various reasons. Your messaging should be relevant, appropriate, and understandable for each group. Making an effort in this area ensures you never alienate anybody.
Building Relationships with Stakeholders. Communicating with consistency and empathy helps you build strong relationships built on trust. Responsiveness and the capacity to listen and understand are always appreciated.
Challenges in communication
Although communication is critical to the success of any organization, numerous challenges must be addressed. These challenges include information overload, misinterpretation of messages, lack of clarity and consistency, language and cultural barriers, and ineffective listening skills.
Communication barriers due to cultural and language differences can be mitigated by improving diversity in the workplace. Everyone should know they have support should they feel disconnected or unable to understand their team members. In these circumstances, provide reasonable accommodations for employees, or when challenged by cultural differences in external communication, attempt to resolve the issue by assigning someone with those language skills.
Remote teams are often challenged to communicate effectively unless adequate tools and support are provided. Employee success platforms like Jostle offer a simple, user-friendly interface from which employees can connect to the people and information they need to communicate freely and clearly.
Practice Active Listening to ensure people feel heard and valued.
Clarity and Conciseness are essential to promote connection and understanding.
Feedback and Two-way Communication should be ongoing to affect continuous improvement and collaboration.
Measure Constantly to gauge the success of your communication initiatives and make adjustments when needed.
Final thoughts about internal and external communication
Effective communication is essential to the success of any organization. By defining internal and external communication, outlining their benefits and strategies to improve and enable them, understanding the barriers to effective communication, and providing best practices that managers and HR leaders can use to enhance communication in the workplace, companies can improve their communication strategies from the inside out.
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