Thursday, June 25, 2009

Internal Communication

Internal communication means the communications within the organization. It can also be called as an employee communication. This communication may be oral or written, face to face or virtual, one-on-one or in groups.

Today organizations have realized that employees have to do more with the success than any other constituency. So, along with customer care, employee care is more necessary. Today employees also demand to participate in any decision making discussions, this shows they are also supportive towards internal communication. Management must recognize this and provide information to employees and listen to their opinion. This act of better communication will make employees welcome the change rather than not accepting it.

So, the question is: How to create an effective communication in a company?

First thing necessary in creating good internal communication is to know the attitude of employees towards their company. This can be done by arranging a “communication audit”. Depending on the response from the employees the right kind of program can be implemented by communication professionals.

A good manager has to take more than one action in order to maintain an effective internal communication.

Communicating up & down – This is consider the best approach by giving employees an informal, fearless environment with supervisor to share information and ideas.

Face to Face – As we all read in the webct articles, there is no substitute for this type and employees can have the direct touch with the senior managers. Senior management must spare some time for arranging face to face meetings.

Online communication – This is the best and fastest way in today’s time for management to reach its employees for communicating and sharing information. Just like we do online chat in our groups, the companies also have their intranet on which employees can share their views.

Publication for employees – If the top level management will take interest in this, this could be a good medium in large organizations to give real story behind what is happening to the employees to keep them aware.

Visual communication – Everyone feels that visual communication is better than reading memos and information broachers. Large organizations are always equipped with television sets in their departments or if not they always have intranet to telecast their video film rolled up with information for its employees.

Internal Branding – This is also referred as internal marketing to keep employees engaged with their job. With this approach the company must recognize the need to sell the idea to employees along with the customers, this will make employees more focus in what they are doing.

Here are some links giving information related to the chapter:

Creating effective internal communication:

http://www.bdc.ca/en/my_project/Projects/articles/hr_internal_communications.htm?cookie_test=1

Seven Cs of internal communication:

http://intraskope.wordpress.com/2008/08/03/the-7-cs-of-internal-communication/



















If Face-To-Face communication not possible then HERE IS THE FUTURE:


video


MY EXPERIENCE:

As I said in my all experiences, I got good exposure to business culture by working with Cipla pharmaceuticals in India as a medical representative.

During those days, the flow of information from my senior executives was always there. I, at an entry level position, was always getting supervised and was also given a company cell phone with required company people’s contact list, in case if I need to ask anything at any time. We all medical representatives were involved in the meetings to share the objectives, give us new targets and to know from us about the any new and necessary information. So, there was always a nice two-way communication.

Here is a link having additional information about keeping employees informed:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1365/is_2_34/ai_107277794/

10 comments:

  1. This is a very interesting article from you Bhishma and I love the different ways of technical communication. So I’m open for all opportunities of communication, especially in a company. Now, it’s very curious how the communication ways have changed in the last few years. I remember about my first education in the 1980s. There was only telephone and a small way about partition communication via our internal computer network. But this communication way was not used very often and respectively many employees didn’t know about. I think the future will give us many possibilities for face-to-face communication and the technical makes it possible.

    Nowadays there are many kinds of communication in a company. The main distinction is the verbal or the written communication. At present, at the written communication is distinguished between the paper-bound and the electronic one form. Companies practice different ways of electronic forms. In my financial institution we use very intensive the intranet as a communication platform. The massage does not go about the World Wide Web but is conducted directly in the internal processing way to the respective colleague. This is a very comfortable opportunity to care for one or several colleagues simultaneously with information.

    A relative new form of communication is Twitter. It’s a kind of micro-blog where you can send and receive short messages. This manner of the communication is used for some large companies currently. Some stock corporations use this communication way to distribute news and massages to their employees and owners. Therefore, the SEC (Security Exchange Commission) are very interested about the distribution channel and the news which ones are sent about Twitter. The single news only has 140 signs, however, can be very nutritious.

    Even the exchange of news between departments of an enterprise can be finished off very fast and uncomplicatedly with Twitter. Twitter has the advantage that the short news can not be retrieved only over Internet but can be sent and retrieved also very uncomplicatedly over mobile telephone. The short Message also can be sent like in a blog to several receivers at the same time.

    Short explanation: Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read each others' updates, known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters, displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to other users - known as followers - who have subscribed to them. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications. The service is free over the Internet, but using SMS may incur phone service provider fees.
    http://twitter.com/

    My article based on a currently "real-world" example from my occupation. The topic from the chapter seven was pick up in an article from “The Wall Street Journal”, published April 27th 2009. Complete in electronic form – the link will give the whole article. In this article are some statements form big companies who use Twitter.

    “Corporate Blogs and 'Tweets' Must Keep SEC in Mind"

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124078135070257099.html

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  2. Bhishma gave a detailed description of Internal Communication. Some of the aspects which I liked the most was Internal Branding which can also be called as internal Marketing and I think is a very useful and effective technique.

    What it is and why is it important?

    From my engineering class I have learned that a true communication is a two-way process. The useful data which we also call “Information" can be presented orally, in writing, face-to-face, one-on-one, in small groups , or electronically using Video conferencing etc. Most of the organizations use newsletters to keep people informed, as well as to highlight successes and accomplishments. The company usually has different newsletters (be it electronically or printed) with different span of circulation to accommodate various departments and levels in the organization.

    Listening to employees is an integral part of two-way communication and enables management to identify strengths and weaknesses, which in turn helps in the process of decision making. Without an effective internal communication a company cannot prosper and often conflicts can occur. Besides I feel that by having an effective internal communication one can handle conflicts in a better way. According to our textbook, author Argenti states that “Internal communication may be a part of everyone’s job since the ideal method of communicating with employees is one-on-one or in meetings with small groups of employees.”

    Life Experience Example

    I have a sweet memory of my childhood days. My grandfather used to tell me his stories. He was the branch manager of Imperial Bank of India and used to spend quality time to discuss every single piece of information with his staff, which used to include mnemonics in his communication since he believed that it helps make people understand things in a better way. Besides using mnemonics, he used to have a feedback from his staff in order to grasp the concept whether they have understood what he was trying to communicate. Really today I can understand how important it was and the reason behind why he used to do it that way.

    contd..

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  3. Another Example

    I would like to cite another example from my Hardware business. The business has two office located in India and another in U.K. It is very important to have an internal communication in the company because without that there would not be a proper flow of information from company’s headquarters to the other departments. Besides having a proper channel gives employees a feeling of oneness and they enjoy working much more. Recently the company has started posting quizzes on its intranet which in turn is designed in such a way so that employees get to know about the company. Furthermore, it has some gifts such as iPod, cash prizes and is held quarterly. By this way the company managers have found workplace a more fun place and in turn improved productivity. In addition to these the intranet helps solving several important issues, just like blogs anyone can post an issue and every employee posts their views about it. By doing this way everyone comes to know about any major changes in the company policy and thus is a very effective tool for internal communication. Another major problem was the time difference of five and a half hours between U.K. and India which makes it difficult to communicate key issues between departments but by using Intranet this issue has been solved since every single piece of information is available on the company’s intranet.

    Yesterday I saw a movie “The Proposal” which is a very interesting movie. The employee’s uses companies own chat software for internal communication and whenever critical issues have to be communicated it was done through that.

    I would encourage other member of the blogs to go through the following video. This video describes how Microsoft is performing Internal Communications using a high tech technology:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jrFYpIn2uw

    http://www.bdc.ca/en/my_project/Projects/articles/hr_internal_communications.htm?cookie%5Ftest=1

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  4. I think that an effective internal communicatoin mechanism is essential for the daily operation of a company. It could prevent waste of time and resources in operations. Employees all over the organization through internal communication could work toward the same direction.

    Life Example

    One of my friends works in the IT support department of a large multinational corporation. He works in Shanghai, China. And large part of his job is to provide technical support to other departments in USA. Because of the time difference between the two countries, he is often required to work till 9 pm, starting from 9 am as a normal employee. He has to wait till night to communicate with his colleagues in USA. He is not satisfied with the heavy workload. Though he talked to his manager for several times, nothing has changed. Now he is very unhappy to work there and often complains about it in front of us. Moreover in the current recession, the company laid off many people in his department, which even increase his feeling of uncertainty. All these things, without an effective internal communication channel to deal with, would significantly decrease employees’ moral and the operation efficiency. Here in this example, the company fails to establish an internal communication model to communicate up and down and hence dissatisfied its employees to some extent.

    Here is an article about layoff internal communication:

    http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/sep2008/sb20080926_678878.htm

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  5. I found Bhishma's commentary on internal communications interesting, especially what he says about communicating up and down in the workplace. It is very important that employees and other subordinates feel comfortable and non-fearful about approaching a superior about a problem. My life experience for this topic revolves around this point.


    MY EXPERIENCE

    The importance of an approachable supervisor

    It is common knowledge that the first step in solving any problem is to identify it. Assuming that most major problems in a workplace will eventually be identified by some means, the next step in solving the problem is for the person or persons that have identified the problem to communicate it to a manager or supervisor if solving it is beyond their abilities. A great deal of people in today's work place, especially "blue collar" work places, have an innate fear of approaching superiors with problems. It is easy for individuals, especially in high stress work places, to automatically assume that they or their team may be blamed, yelled at, or even fired, even though they may not be at fault. Sometimes the problem itself isn't severe enough to cause irreparable damage, but it can draw attention or heighted supervision to the responsible party on future projects, which would add more stress in the future. All of this can be avoided if employees feel comfortable with approaching and reporting to the supervisor. If this is the case, many problems can be dealt with early and swiftly.

    A few years back, my firm was hired to design and build a high volume natural gas transmission line, along with three large compressor stations. This was a very large and time consuming project from start to finish. I had seven construction crews, including up to 50 men under my direct supervision and coordination during the construction phase of this project. During the early stages of project construction, one of our construction crew foremen identified a small and easily correctable procedural problem. It turned out that two of the three pipe fusion crews were not applying the industry standard fusion methods properly. He reported the problem to me and we were able to correct the problem quite quickly. However, I found out later that he tried to solve the problem on his own before he approached me and was unsuccessful. I was not disappointed in his lack of success of correcting the problem on his own, but was disappointed in his failure to report it to me. Therefore, I approached him about it. He explained to me that he was fearful that I would judge him incompetent, and also that he did not want to bring further scrutiny from me because of my lack of confidence in him. I assured him that I would have not made that kind of judgment about him, and that in fact, I commended him for his ability to communicate the problem to me. I knew at that time that I had a minor internal communication problem with my subordinates concerning up and down communications. I tackled this communication problem by calling two stages of meeting over the next couple of weeks and even consulted an outside firm that helped me design an improved up and down feedback reporting system that I still use today.

    Here is a great article about a managing director’s experience at Heathrow Airport in London. It is not directly related to my experience, but it I think it is a great example of ineffective internal communication.

    http://ezinearticles.com/?Managements-Role-in-Workplace-Communication&id=711178

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  6. Internal Communication and Business Culture

    I love Mayank’s story about his grandfather’s commitment to making sure his employees understood the concepts he was trying to convey. What a great role model for his employees as well as his grandson. Business culture is shaped by internal communication. When management takes a “do as we say” and “not as we do” posture, fails to share information, is inconsistent with and/or erratic in delivering feedback, employees find it difficult to “connect” with or trust the company’s vision or embrace their mission. Morale plummets and production falters, creating a dysfunctional business environment. As parents and educators, we’re often reminded that children crave discipline and order, they become insecure when discipline is inconsistent and they are not informed of events that significantly impact their lives. This has a negative effect on the entire system, whether it is a family or an educational environment. It is in our nature, as human beings, to thrive where there is order, consistency, and the opportunity to give and receive information. How, then, would we expect it to be any different in the business environment? Yet, there are managers who make decisions from the “ivory tower” without regard to how employees’ lives are affected, and subsequently, how business is affected.

    My Experience

    Having worked for a few different companies during my business career, I’ve had the opportunity to experience a variety of management styles. In terms of internal communications, I’ve been most productive and secure in those positions where I was made to feel I was part of the team, my contributions were valued, and management had an open door policy. I was most dissatisfied when information came through the grapevine, there was little or no face-to-face communication with management, and the lines of communication were unclear. The quality of the internal communications had little to do with the size of the company, but with how well management articulated the value they placed on their employees’ contributions to their success.

    The following link contains an article entitled, “The End of Internal Communications.” The author has an interesting take on the current state of internal communications.

    http://www.simply-communicate.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=835&d=136&h=60&f=75&dateformat=%25e-%25h-%25y

    This link is a paper by Trevor Cook. It’s long, but reinforces everything we’ve learned about internal communications.

    http://trevorcook.typepad.com/weblog/files/EmCom.pdf

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  7. Bhishma did a good job of expressing the importance of internal communication. Companies are focusing their attention on satisfying their employees because they directly affect the product or service a company provides. Keeping employees happy will ensure that they enjoy their job, thus they work harder to provide good products and services. These internal communications now have numerous conduits of communication. In times past, most companies just sent out emails and memos. However, with the evolution of social media, blogs and other internet based communication there are plenty of ways to keep in touch.

    My Example

    While I was working for a non-profit organization we had a meeting every week. These weekly meetings were set up so that everyone within the organizations knew and understood what happened the previous week and what is happening next week. This ensured that everyone was on the right page and that everyone was prepared for the week to come. These meetings also served as an opportunity for all employees to voice their opinions. Employees were able to talk about which programs were going well and which ones weren’t. It also served as a chance to delegate responsibility. Depending what was going on next week employees could sometimes volunteer for particular activities that they felt most passionate about. Weekly meetings are not revolutionary but they are effective. Making sure that all employees have input in the company’s activities and that all employees are communicating with each other, ensures that the best possible services is provided to the customers. Another important fact is that the meetings involve two way communications both up and down the organizational hierarchy.

    Suggested Links

    http://www.melcrum.com/topics/internal_communication2.shtml

    http://www.rapidbi.com/created/howtowriteaninternalcommunicationsplanandstrategy.html

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWDnlY5MWkc

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  8. INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

    Really good break down, Bhishma. Internal communications can be recognized as the single most important activity to be conducted in a workplace. Without it, business operations can be negatively affected. With all the sophisticated technology available to communicate with employees today such as emails, intranets, blogs and blackberry, nothing beats the idea of “management walking around”. Sometimes it helps for managers to go out on the frontlines with their subordinates, and learn information first-hand. By doing this, a manager can eliminate miscommunication of e-mails and have genuine, old-fashioned face-to-face meetings.

    In my own experience, my supervisors often worked close-by. It was beneficial for the employees because we were able to have constant direct communication, and it also helped our supervisor learn more about each employee. It also helped my supervisor to conduct the quarterly performance evaluations and relay new rules and regulations that come from upper-level management. During management meetings, our supervisor would emphasize our concerns and some changes would be made. Below are a few links to more useful information about Internal Communications.

    http://performance-appraisals.org/Bacalsappraisalarticles/articles/comstrat.htm

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m4422/is_4_22/ai_n14730211/

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  9. I agree with Bhisma’s point of view that employee’s play a vital role in the success of organization. Therefore as Bhisma said employee care is equally important as customer care. Internal communication can build a positive corporate culture and can enhance employee morale and productivity. In today’s business environment workplace is changing rapidly and this transformation causes more employee anxiety, stress and lack of loyalty. Therefore an effective internal communication program is needed.

    My Experience:
    As I already told u that I was working in Nokia during my internship. I want to share my experience as an employee. Nokia always used open communication for their employee. They always appreciate employee participation and feedback. They always motivate us to give our opinion. Nokia is following certain internal communication practices. We have to participate in an annual employee survey called “Listening to you”. We are allowed to express our opinion that we think can benefit the organization. We also have a forum called “ask HR”. In this forum we have to answer general questions related to our work. All employees are encouraged to participate in a discussion forum called “Jazz Café”. This helped us to know other employee better and to discuss any matter which is important to organization with other employees. All employees are given mail and email address to reach the Board of Directors to express their concerns and give feedback. Company is using an open discussion with all the constituencies it is doing business with. Nokia also provide their employee with “Nokia people magazine”. The purpose of the magazine is to business coverage and company’s strength and achievements. Nokia also provide online news service for their employees on the intranet.

    Website links:
    http://www.bizjournals.com/albany/stories/2002/08/19/focus7.html

    http://nds2.ir.nokia.com/corporate-responsibility/employees/how-we-do-it/internal-communications

    http://www.bhagooa.com/cw/communication.html

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  10. I agree with Bhishma that there are several ways to communicate internally; and all of this means lead to effective internal communication. However, I have exposed to a unique internal communication means. When I was working as a senior chemist at one of the respectful environmental companies in Saudi Arabia called Environment Consulting Bureau (ECB), we were having an effective communication program within the employees called (LIMS) stand for Laboratory Information Management System. To elaborate a little bit, a typical laboratory work is receiving samples and sends the result to our client back. Our job was analyzing the samples that have been collected carefully from a selected site for Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH). So, there are four major sections in the lab. First is the storage section. They are responsible of receiving the samples as well as store them properly. Second is the purification section. They are responsible for cleaning and purifying the samples to be ready for the following section. Third is the extract section. They extract the necessary substances from the samples. Fourth is the analytical section where they provide the result after all. During the three years that I spent there, I had never talk to my colleagues regard the samples because we were communicating with each other using LIMS. What LIMS facilitate is that I know were the samples are, in which sections they are and when I’m going to receive and analyze them. LIMS was a great program to communicate internally with each other. Therefore, our jobs were really neat and organized. Also we were working together in timely manner.

    Here is the link that explains the LIMS

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laboratory_informatics

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