What is an internal communication plan

For companies, internal communication is an important component of the open and value-oriented corporate culture and at the same time a success factor in employee motivation. The targeted and transparent communication with your employees allows you not only the fundamentally important transfer of information and knowledge, but also the continuous dialogue with your employees and with one another.

According to Gabler's economic encyclopedia, internal communication means:

“On the one hand, there is a management function that supports your organization with the help of communication and behavior management. On the other hand, internal communication at the operational level means the planned communication instruments (media and personal communication). "

Internal communication therefore relates to verbal and non-verbal communication in the company. On the one hand through the management team with the employees and the communication between the employees, on the other hand through the successful use of communication tools. At the same time, a distinction is made between formal and informal communication. Formal internal communication is maintained using specific communication tools and channels. Informal communication, on the other hand, covers all the information that is passed on, for example, via radio and rumors.

Internal communication concept

In terms of content, there are four pillars in internal employee communication:

1. Information

First and foremost, communication in the company should pass on information that is relevant for all or some of the employees. This pillar is of central importance, because the following three pillars cannot exist without the successful transfer of information.

2. Dialogue

In addition to information aimed at one direction, dialogue also finds its place in internal communication. In the context of this, the employees not only receive passive information, but also react to the conveyed content and enter into contact and dialogue with the management team and other colleagues about the communicated content.

3. Motivation

Employee motivation is an important goal and result of successful employee communication. Through transparent and efficient communication with employees, managers succeed in motivating their employees and encouraging them to perform better. This also reduces employee fluctuation and thus the loss of knowledge from the company.

4. Knowledge transfer

Last but not least, knowledge transfer in corporate communication must not be neglected. Due to employee fluctuation, there is always the risk that employees leaving the company take important information and knowledge with them without having shared it with their colleagues and managers beforehand. Employees can also gain recognition by publishing and sharing their knowledge with their managers and other colleagues. This in turn promotes employee motivation and, as already mentioned, ideally leads to lower employee turnover.

Internal communication tools

Until about fifteen years ago, circulars and information letters, employee magazines, the bulletin board and, of course, employee meetings were popular instruments for internal communication. The rapid digitization of the past decade has also changed a lot in company employee communication.

The following instruments are now used most frequently for communication in companies:

Intranet

An intranet is a self-contained computer network that is not accessible to the public, but only to people in a specific organization or company. In contrast to the freely accessible Internet, the intranet can only be used to a limited extent.

Internal newsletter

Like the intranet, an internal newsletter can only be viewed by people from a specific organization and is only sent to them as an internal information circular.

Wiki

A wiki is a website whose content can be read by certain people and at the same time changed and supplemented. As part of internal communication, the wiki is only available to employees of a specific company. They can use it as a source of information and enrich it with their knowledge so that it is stored sustainably in the company and for other employees. The best known, publicly accessible wiki is of course Wikipedia.

Internal blog

A blog is a normally publicly accessible diary that is integrated on a website. In terms of internal communication, the internal blog can be part of the intranet, for example. Employees of a company can present their thoughts on current events as well as information and knowledge in a compact way. Ideally, this is done by vividly adding photos and videos.

Chat and instant messaging tools

The tools for chats or instant messaging enable participants to chat with one another via text messages and to receive and read short messages immediately. This shortens the communication channels and reduces the volume of e-mails, especially when members of a team are on the move or want to clarify something quickly during a meeting. By the way, one of the most frequently used instant messaging tools, especially in smaller companies, is Slack. Skype has also established itself as an in-house messaging tool.

Social media

Social media channels can also be used, at least in part, for internal communication. For example, a company can create closed Facebook or LinkedIn groups and make them available to its employees for communication. It should be noted, however, that employees are tempted to spend more time on social media channels, which are actually more used for private communication.

Employee feedback tools

In addition to all of these platforms and tools, the use of specific tools for collecting employee feedback gives you the opportunity to let your employees have their say anonymously. On the one hand, you can quickly identify possible sources of dissatisfaction and take appropriate countermeasures. On the other hand, you will recognize which things are already going well in the company and should be pushed further in order to satisfy and retain your employees in the long term.

In addition to the digital instruments of internal communication, employee and feedback discussions play a central role in management work. Studies have shown that employees want more feedback and recognition from their managers in order to do better work on the job. Transparent feedback and openly expressed recognition contribute significantly to employee satisfaction and thus also to increased performance in the workplace.

Choosing the right instruments

In order not to overload your own employees with too many communication instruments, you should limit yourself to two or three central instruments in the company. It should also be clear which information is communicated via which instruments or channels. This makes it easier for employees to search for relevant information.

When introducing new instruments, it is essential that the management level and superiors exemplify the active use of the channels and thus motivate all employees to use them. In addition, it is important that all employees are given a brief introduction to the use of the tools for employee communication at the beginning. This also avoids fear of contact and promotes active use of the channels by all employees.

In large corporations in particular, the intranet is still an important part of internal communication. Employees can find the information relevant to them and the contacts they can contact if they have any questions right away. Without this central source of information, employees in large companies would be lost and would have to spend an unnecessarily large amount of time looking for information or relevant contacts. As an internal communication tool, the intranet also has a direct impact on employee productivity.

In internal communication, it is still important that employees not only get information leaked, but can also proactively pick it up. The intranet, wikis and internal blogs are also useful platforms for the latter function.

Influence of internal communication on corporate culture

Internal communication has a central influence on corporate culture. The corporate culture is the “universe of common values, norms and attitudes” that “shape the decisions, actions and behavior of the members of the organization”. There is no more important factor for successful and, above all, productive cooperation in the company. As a manager, you have the important task of helping to shape the corporate culture and setting an example for your employees. The management team must credibly live the values ​​and norms of the company so that they are also recognized, internalized and lived by the employees. The successful formation of a sustainable and value-oriented corporate culture, in turn, has a major influence on employee motivation.

Employee communication and motivation

Employees are not primarily motivated by their salary. Studies have already confirmed this several times. Rather, it is more important for them to be recognized with their performance and to occupy an important place in the team.

Successful internal communication and thus employee motivation begins with regular feedback discussions. As part of these discussions between employees and direct managers, which take place at least twice a year, the goals of the employee that can be measured on the basis of results, but also their personal development goals should be discussed. In addition to the feedback from the supervisor to the employee, it should also be possible for the employee to give feedback to the supervisor. In this way, both sides learn in cooperation and can respond to where there is still room for improvement and develop accordingly. Feedback discussions are therefore a central component in the successful management of employees.

Successful and open communication between employees can also be classified under the category of employee communication and motivation. This enables employees to support, develop and promote one another. At the same time, this strengthens team cohesion.

Avoidable errors in internal communication

Wherever people communicate with each other, mistakes are of course made. The following are the most obvious mistakes that you should definitely avoid in your internal communication:

1. Information is communicated too late, incompletely or in a non-transparent manner
There is nothing worse than when the entire workforce of a company is informed too late, incompletely or in a non-transparent manner about fundamental events and innovations in the company. As a result, employees lose confidence in their superiors and the organization. The passing on of information to only some of the employees also leads to the fact that the other part feels excluded and the basis of mutual trust is disturbed. Both scenarios can be avoided through regular, complete and transparent internal communication.

2. The employees are shown a lack of appreciation in communication
A lack of appreciation and respect in employee communication lead to a loss of motivation on the part of employees to perform at their best and, in turn, show their superiors trust and respect. Only through mutual appreciation and respect in internal communication do employees remain motivated and contribute to the company's long-term success.

3. Competitive thinking prevails between departments or teams
Competitive thinking between departments or teams may be caused by the first mentioned incomplete communication. A lack of unity throughout the company can also lead to departments or teams perceiving themselves as competitors, even though they should pull together for the company and its success. Competitive thinking among one another can be avoided through transparent internal communication at management level and the equally appreciative recognition of the performance of all departments and teams.

4. The opinion and feedback of employees is not recognized
A lack of recognition of work performance, as well as the opinions and feedback of employees, can lead to problems in internal communication and thus also in corporate culture. Employee feedback is an extremely important element for managers to recognize early on when problems arise in the team. This also allows these to be resolved quickly. The feedback from employees also enables the company to continuously improve its products and services for its customers.

5. The wrong channels or instruments are used for internal communication
The use of the wrong channels or instruments in employee communication can also lead to discrepancies in the corporate atmosphere and a loss of motivation among employees. As soon as employees have the feeling that not all information is being shared transparently and in one easily and centrally accessible place, misunderstandings arise in communication. It is therefore very important that the same type of information and knowledge is always communicated through the originally defined instruments and channels.

All of the above-mentioned errors in internal communication can be avoided through well thought-out and transparent internal communication. In addition, get regular feedback from your employees, for example with the help of employee surveys, in order to identify possible problems at an early stage.

Internal vs. external communication

The internal communication should ultimately also take place in harmony with the company's external communication, so that the two do not contradict each other. External communication includes all channels and information attempts that are aimed directly at customers, partners and possibly suppliers and are intended to bind them to the company and its offers.

At the same time, the content of internal communication is partly also conveyed to the outside via public relations and marketing. This in turn offers a company's customers, partners and suppliers transparent communication that further promotes the corporate culture and reflects it well to the outside world.

Conclusion

With transparent and targeted internal communication, a company can successfully develop an open and value-oriented corporate culture. Correctly deployed instruments and channels play a necessary and central role and should be actively used by managers in order to serve as role models. At the same time, the employees are motivated by transparent and appreciative internal communication, perform better in their job and are permanently bound to the company.

Internal communication thrives on an active exchange between employees and the management team, which is essential for the continued existence and success of a company. In this way, you build a strong bond with your employees and colleagues and, with a positive corporate culture, you gain a clear advantage over competitors by retaining your employees in your company over the long term.