Improving internal communication within your organization can drive a variety of benefits, both for your team and your company as a whole, including increased productivity, clarity, and engagement. (For example, according to data from McKinsey, implementing social technologies for internal communication can increase employee productivity by between 20 and 25 percent.)
But for many organizations, the path to improved internal communication is a challenging one. So what, exactly, are the major challenges of internal communication?And, more importantly, how can your business overcome those challenges and foster more effective internal communication across your organization?
No clear internal communication strategy
Arguably one of the biggest challenges of internal communication (if not the biggest challenge)? The fact that the majority of companies have no clear plan around how to do it.
According to a study from Arthur J. Gallagher & Co, 60 percent of companies lack an internal communication strategy. That means that nearly two-thirds of all companies have no game plan for empowering the most effective communication across their organizations—including internal communication goals, processes, systems, best practices, or frameworks.
And that lack of a strategy can have major consequences for an organization. Not only will internal communication be less effective overall, but those internal communication challenges can lead to a significant drop in both employee productivity (it can be harder for employees to get things done in the face of communication challenges or breakdowns) and employee engagement (communication challenges can lead to employees feeling frustrated—and, ultimately, less engaged with their work).
Luckily, there’s an easy solution to this problem—and that’s investing the time, energy, and resources necessary into crafting an internal communication strategy. Not only will a clearly defined strategy help to empower your team’s best work, but because so few companies have an internal communication strategy, it can also give you a leg up on your competition. It’s a win-win!
Not having the right tools in place
Having an internal communication strategy is a must. But in order for that strategy to be successful, you need the right tools to implement that strategy. But unfortunately, many companies don’t know what the right tools are or haven’t invested in rolling those tools out to their organization—which leads us to another major challenge of internal communications: not having the right tools in place.
Why it happens
There are a number of reasons why companies may not have the right internal communication tools in place, including:
- Not knowing what they need. Many companies don’t have the right tools in place because they don’t know what, exactly, they need from an internal communication tool. This lack of clarity can make it hard to evaluate tools and choose the right tech stack to support their internal communication strategy.
- Not willing to invest in implementing a new tool. Anytime you implement a new tool across your organization, it’s an investment—an investment of time, energy, and financial resources. Some companies simply aren’t willing to make one or all of those investments—which generally leads to them putting off implementing internal communication tools altogether.
- Choosing the wrong tools. Sometimes, an organization may try to put the right internal communication tools in place—but they end up choosing a tool that’s not adapted to their needs. For example, let’s say a company’s main internal communication goal is to make it easier for leadership to share important information across the organization. If that’s their goal, they need to find a tool that offers that functionality (like Talkspirit’s news feed and homepage features). Implementing a tool that makes it easier for groups to communicate and collaborate on a project or empowers easier scheduling may improve their internal communication overall, but it won’t help them more effectively disseminate information across the organization. And it’s not going to help them hit their internal communication goals, which means it’s the wrong tool for their needs.
How to find the right tools
If you want to ensure you have the right internal communication tools in place, there are a few key questions you should ask yourself, including:
- What are our internal communication goals?
- What functionality do we need from an internal communication tool?
- How much time/energy/money are we willing to invest in implementing this tool—and training our team on how to use it?
Answering these questions will give you insights into what kind of internal communication tools would be the best fit for your organization—which will arm you with the knowledge you need to better evaluate options on the market and choose the best tools for your team.
Lack of training
It doesn’t matter if you have a solid internal communication strategy and the right tools in place. If your team isn’t aware of those strategies and tools—and how they impact their day-to-day experience at work—both are going to fall flat.
Which brings us to another of the biggest challenges of internal communication—lack of training.
For example, let’s say you’ve realized that your team wastes a lot of time trying to coordinate cross-departmental meetings—and you’re rolling out a new internal communication tool to make it easier for employees to schedule meetings without constant back-and-forth emails (like Talkspirit, which integrates a shared agenda feature that allows employees to easily view their colleagues’ calendars and schedule meetings and events based on availability). If you don’t train your team on the new process (and on how to use the new tool), many of them will default to sending emails when it’s time to schedule a meeting—and you’ll fall short of hitting your internal communication goals.
That’s why, if you want your internal communication strategy to succeed, you need to train your team. Schedule an all-hands meeting to walk your team through your internal communication strategy, the goals you’re working towards, and how internal communication will be changing in your organization. Have managers meet with their teams to speak more in-depth about how the new strategy will impact each individual employee’s workflow. If you’re implementing a new software, host training sessions to ensure everyone understands the functionality and how to use the tool in their work.
The better you train your team, the more successful your internal communication strategy will be—so make sure to make training a priority.
An unwillingness to adapt
Internal communication is like anything else; what works today may not work tomorrow—and if you want to continue to foster effective internal communication across your organization, you need to be willing to adapt and change your strategy as necessary.
But, the last major challenge of internal communication? Many companies just aren’t willing to do that. Instead, they stick with an outdated internal communication strategy far longer than they should—and their team (and business) suffers as a result.
For example, the internal communication strategy that works for a team of 20 that share office space may not be as effective when that team scales to 200 people spread across multiple locations. Or maybe the internal communication tool that’s most effective when your main internal communication goal is to foster stronger relationships between your employees isn’t going to be the best choice when that goal changes to include hosting more inclusive all-hands meetings with your remote organization.
The point is, as your team and organization changes, chances are, your internal communication needs will change as well—and if you want to continue to succeed, you have to be willing to adapt and evolve your internal communication strategy as needed. Send regular surveys to your team to ask if there are any internal communications elements they’d like to see changed or improved. Regularly audit your internal communications processes and see if they need to be changed or updated. Stay on top of how internal communication is evolving within your organization—and update, change, and evolve your strategy as necessary.
Now that you understand the main challenges of internal communication, you have everything you need to address them, and improve your organization’s tools and practices in the process. And if you’re looking for a new tool, we have you covered! Check out our list of the best internal communication tools to find the one adapted to your needs:
Author: Deanna deBara