Culture

Building a Strong Company Through Effective Internal Communications

May 11, 2017

I am a big believer that a key to growing a large organization is providing effective communications and as much transparency as possible. For more than eight years, I have hosted a weekly podcast, called “Burton’s Headliner,” that I use to communicate directly to my entire company of more than 2,500 colleagues in 40 + offices.

"Whether you are a startup with a small staff or an established company with thousands of employees across multiple cities, regular internal communication is critical to building a great company."

Every issue of the Headliner is three to five minutes in length and features an informal conversation between one of our colleagues and me discussing the important work they’re doing. Every Headliner also includes a section where I read submissions from our employees about what they think is “hot or not.” The Headliner is most definitely a pillar of our internal communications program but, in reality, it’s only one of the many forms of internal communications we use at TriNet.   

Whether you are a startup with a small staff or an established company with thousands of employees across multiple cities, regular internal communication is critical to building a great company (tweet this). Sharing updates with your staff motivates employees by keeping them aligned with your organization’s mission and vision. It helps everyone understand their role in achieving your company goals.

When planning your internal communications program, keep in mind that not everyone absorbs messages in the same way. So what works for sharing information with your technology team in Portland may not be the best idea for communicating to your customer service center in Poughkeepsie. For this reason, your internal communications program should encompass a variety of platforms and methods.

For instance, at TriNet we use various types of communication in addition to the Headliner. These include such tactics as face-to-face meetings, emails, newsletters and company-wide conference calls with the executive team. Additional tools such as our intranet, online meeting programs and social networking sites also play an important role.

In assessing our robust internal communications system at TriNet, I have pinpointed three specific ways internal communications can build a stronger company.

1) Greater Transparency
To be effective, internal communications methods must be based on transparency. If employees hear nothing from you but sound bites and lip service, you are going to struggle with getting their buy-in and support. If they think you are just telling them what they want to hear or are going through the motions of communication, they will lose faith in what you say. In this case, your communications efforts can do more harm than good. However, if you are honest and forthright in giving your employees as much information as you can, you are going to gain their trust and secure a lot of goodwill.   

2) Enhanced Two-Way Communication
The best way to build transparency is always through two-way communication. When employees are allowed to spontaneously ask questions of the executive team and we are forced to answer these questions in a live forum, employees know they can talk to us about anything. In my experience, this type of open relationship between staff and management is essential to building an enduring company.

During my quarterly all-hands meetings and our bi-weekly “CEO Open-Line Forum,” employees are invited to call in and ask questions of our executive staff. This forum is not scripted and when questions come in, I answer them as honestly and thoroughly as possible because I believe that my employees have a right to know what they are working so hard for. Employees feel empowered when they have access to company executives and can talk to them directly about the issues that impact them.

3) Improved Alignment
Product launches, achieving or missing financial goals, corporate strategy and any other significant company change or success should be shared across your internal communications channels.

When employees are involved in goal-setting and achievement, they realize the importance of their contributions to the success of the company. This lets your team better understand how their individual goals align with the overall corporate goals. This type of open communication ensures that the objectives of various departments are also aligned and nobody is working in a vacuum.

Additionally, while the free flow of information from management to employees is vital, alignment also depends on communication among employees. At TriNet, we have online networks and platforms where colleagues can ask questions of each other, offer resources, share what they’re working on and exchange ideas. Another invaluable resource is our weekly internal newsletter, where we deliver key business updates and celebrate achievements happening across all departments.

In conclusion, remember that effective internal communication is not about projecting the company or management in the best light. The focus should be on sharing accurate information to keep all employees working toward company goals. In the absence of communication, you run the risk of rumors taking hold. So take charge of your message, drive it effectively and you will eventually see the results in a happy and motivated workforce.     

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

By Burton M. Goldfield

Burton M. Goldfield is President and CEO of TriNet

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