internal communications

How to Develop an Internal Communications Plan to Avoid Pitfalls

Internal communication is one of the biggest challenges facing startups today. Between department silos, lack of accountability, data dumps and channel overload, it’s not surprising that communication gaps arise within departments. Fortunately, a strategic internal communications plan can help you avoid some of the common pitfalls.

Why you need to create an internal communications plan

Every entrepreneur understands the value of effective communication. However, internal communication is not emphasized nearly as much as external, even though it also affects your company’s bottom line. Small business owners would be wise to develop an internal communications plan that optimizes resources and improves the flow of information within the company.

“Having an internal communication plan helps departments communicate important information seamlessly and holds all relevant team members accountable,” Karl Swan, a Tampa tax accountant, said.

Related: Tips for Successfully Leading Your Team Through Change

Common internal communications pitfalls

Before you develop an internal communications plan, it’s important to understand some of the common issues that cause communication gaps.

The modern workplace has a seemingly endless number of channels for employees to communicate through. From digital environments like Slack and Workplace by Facebook, it can be overwhelming to know where to share what information. When there are too many communication channels, it’s easy for important information to get lost or devalued.

Another common issue with internal communication is the lack of shared information between departments. For instance, just within a marketing team, you can have several individual departments, like SEO, content, social, email, events, communications, market research, sales and more. The more departments you have, the harder it can be to maintain control and streamline communications.

Accountability is another hurdle with internal communication. When miscommunication, errors or omissions happen in communication, someone must take ownership. Unless expectations and responsibilities are clearly outlined to employees, it can be difficult for management to hold them accountable.

Developing a communications strategy that emphasizes accountability, consolidates channels and encourages shared information across departments can improve employee satisfaction and production while eliminating inefficiencies.

How to develop a communications plan

As a business owner, it’s important to provide employees with an unambiguous blueprint for communicating vertically and horizontally. When an employee needs to deliver project updates or analytic reports, there should be no confusion as to who they report to, the format within which it needs to be shared, and the channel that is designated for that information.

When developing an internal communications plan for your company, try to think about the following questions:

  • What is the most important information collected and shared by this department?
  • What is the fastest path to move information to the final decision maker?
  • Can we consolidate channels or optimize resources?
  • How can you best share information across departments?

It’s important to recognize that all companies are different, so there is no boilerplate plan that will work for every department. However, with these answers in mind and after critically thinking about what your team needs, you can start developing your customized internal communications plan.

As you develop your strategy and subsequent plan, make sure you clearly define responsibilities and expectations for employees and communication channels. Other elements you may want to consider in your internal communications plan include:

  • A process to collect, track and measure individual and team goals and KPIs
  • A designated schedule for meetings within and across departments
  • An anonymous feedback channel for constructive notes
  • Training and process documents for best practices
  • A strategy for ongoing iteration

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The goal of your internal communications plan should be to develop an environment that challenges your employees and pushes for innovation and creative problem solving, while also holding every member of the team accountable.

Great entrepreneurs understand the value of effective communication. It’s the basis for successful client growth. It’s also the foundation for improved productivity within an organization. By developing an internal communications plan for your business, you can avoid errors, improve employee satisfaction, and increase your company’s bottom line.

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