It is well established that internal communication is critical for organizational success. Top performing organizations invest in effective employee communications – directly improving financial performance. While most top leaders believe in the value of communication for corporate success and driving value for the business, there are gaps that exist in how communicators and stakeholders view the function. In this post I share a few myths that surround internal communications and take this opportunity to dispel them to the best of my abilities.
Myth: Directing communication at managers to engage staff pays off
Employee today expect greater flexibility at work and have a direct relationship with the organization. Managers are no longer the universe for employees. Managers are not their only or preferred source of information or inspiration for employees. Nor are they trusted by employees. Also, managers aren’t very comfortable communicating with staff. Therefore, what needs to be strengthened are peer-to-peer relationships. When employees connect with each other, they gain a lot more. Employees feel empowered it improves job satisfaction and their interest to offer discretionary effort.
Myth: Leaders have a lot of influence on employee engagement
In reality, leaders have a long way to go before they can possibly drive connection. Research indicates that ‘leadership actions can affect performance, but only if the leader is seen as responsible and inspirational’. Authentic behaviors are expected from leaders and while a majority feel they are presenting their best selves, they often struggle with balancing their corporate ‘images’ with who they are. Also, a staggering 70% of leaders feel they are not ready to lead their organizations into the future. Leaders are not as credible – the focus has now shifted to ‘people like us’.
Myth: Internal communication can make employees loyal to the organization
As organizations become social enterprises and the gig economy grows in strength, firms that understand the needs of the diverse workforce and communicate accordingly will win in the long-term. With personalization the need of the hour and employees looking at their careers as experiences. With just 13% of employees truly engaged at the workplace worldwide, organizations can forget about loyalty and instead invest in strengthening the employee-employer relationship. Also, when employees have positive personal experiences, do they perceive the organization as fair and therefore become more loyal. Occupational commitment – employees’ alignment with their immediate teams, is much stronger than organizational commitment.
Myth: Face-to-face will trump other modes of communication
While face-to-face is the richest form of communication, there is evidence that online collaboration and work-based social media tools will reign supreme. Internal social media allows for faster problem solving, knowledge sharing and transparency. When organizations installed social media tools internally they found a median 20% increase in employee satisfaction and a 7% increase in productivity.
Myth: Communicating more and often will help drive understanding and engagement
Regular and consistent communication, not more communication can influence how employees feel about their workplace and initiatives organizations lead. With information overload and dwindling attention spans, employees have very little mind space to assimilate messages. It isn’t about sending more messages but focusing on the quality of content and developing them in partnership with audiences so that it is accepted better.
Do you have other internal communication myths to demystify? If yes, do share them here.