An increasing number of companies are taking steps to improve their internal communication. However, most companies are not very clear about one thing: Who is responsible for internal communication?
The top leadership at many companies believes that human resources should be responsible for internal communication. After all, HR is the custodian of culture, right?
However, this is not entirely true. Leaving internal communication entirely in the hands of HR will give your company extremely limited results. HR might take the lead, but for internal communication to truly flourish, it has to be a company-wide effort.
The following groups of people are responsible for the success of internal communication:
1. Top Management
Absence of the top leadership's support is a key reason why internal communication fails to take off.
Internal communication is essentially about fostering conversations. The simplest way in which the top leaders can help is by initiating those conversations. They should make more frequent announcements and updates about the status of the company and the industry and invite people to share their thoughts on those updates.
For example, the company's CEO can make a weekly video address about the key updates across divisions. This video can be hosted on the company's internal communication platform like Smarp, where people can leave their comments and ask questions, and the CEO can respond directly to those questions.
Employees will only speak up freely if they are invited to do so. The top bosses have to take the lead and extend those invitations.
2. Human Resources
As internal communication grows in importance, it now plays a central role in the employee retention strategies of many the world's best places to work. HR teams know that employee engagement, retention and internal communication go hand in hand and therefore they are taking the lead in playing far more than just a transactional role in internal communication.
Traditionally, HR has been responsible for communicating messages related to performance management, administrative announcements, etc. but now they are doing so much more.
HR now facilitates internal communication in the following ways:
- HR is now taking the lead in deploying the shared technology and processes to facilitate internal communication. This includes deploying a shared internal communication platform, such as Smarp which makes it super-easy for people to communicate.
- HR is responsible for creating an internal communication strategy and plan - which includes periodic activities, milestones and measurement metrics.
- In more mature organizations, HR is helping top management with their periodic communication. HR teams help formulate messages as well as coach top leaders on the best way to deliver their messages.
- HR is responsible for recruiting and it's using internal communication and Employee Advocacy to support the recruiting function. It's helping define the right messages that are sent out as part of the company's employer value proposition. It also makes sure that the right criteria for recruitment are met, so that newer employees are a fit with the company's internal communication culture. After all, culture plays a vital role in internal communication.
3. Team Managers
For any initiative to succeed it must be addressed at a macro as well as at a micro level. The top management and HR can help establish the framework and take the lead, but the managers have to take it to the next step.
Here are two ways in which managers can contribute:
#1 Encourage internal communication within teams
Two of the key principles of internal communication are transparency and freedom of expression. Employees should feel that their opinions matter. Before they have the confidence to express their thoughts and ideas to the top management, they should feel confident enough to talk openly with their immediate bosses. Managers should encourage their team members to speak up and share their ideas.
For instance, if a manager has an unrealistic expectation about a sales plan for the coming quarter, employees should be able to point out the flaws in that plan, and suggest better ideas.
#2 Create micro communication channels
Managers also need to encourage communication between departments, so that people do not work in silos. If the marketing team needs information from the product team for creating a campaign, they should be able to access that information quickly, without having to go through a convoluted process. This can be easily facilitated if a product manager and a marketing manager come to an understanding and agree to work together.
Different groups within a company are responsible for different aspects of internal communication. The people who are shaping a company’s communication strategy have to actively involve all these groups. Companies who win at internal communication have realized a simple fact – that it’s a team sport!