-- By Janine Popick
No matter what size company you own – from one to hundreds or even thousands of employees – your people need to know what’s going on so they can stay up-to-date and feel that they're part of your company growth.
After being in business for 12 years, I’ve seen my company grow from a handful of employees wearing lots of hats, to more than a hundred people in many departments who are quite specialized in their day-to-day tasks. However, when folks become more specialized and focused, they often lose sight of the big picture. That’s when having effective internal communication becomes vital.
For instance, some of your managers may communicate to their teams while others don’t, leaving part of your company in the know and others in the dark. This can cause "water-cooler chat" (which can happen in any case, to be honest) that can be unproductive and untrue.
Here are four small business tips that can help you play an active part in providing all the information – and maybe a bit more – that your employees (and your business) need to succeed.
Communication Tips for Small Business
1. All-hands Meetings
Hold a forum and invite every employee to attend (in-person, by conference call or via Skype) a meeting that serves as a town hall. Give each department a chance to provide interesting updates about the work their team is doing and how it supports growth. Allow adequate time for live questions and participation from attendees.
The interaction that comes out of these sessions can be fantastic. Ensure you add entertaining and fun elements, because all work and no play makes for a boring meeting. Plus, when your teams add creativity to their presentations, you’ll be amazed at how the engagement increases.
2. Company Email Newsletter
Every month you can publish an internal company newsletter with high-level updates from each department or area. Remember to keep the updates brief, easy-to-read and of course, interesting.
Ask different members to contribute fresh content each month, and make sure to provide shout-outs to teams and individuals that exceed goals or have stellar accomplishments. You also can promote amazing customers -- the reason you’re in business. Reminding the team why you’re doing what you’re doing is always great.
3. Get Out (of the office)
Sometimes it’s great to bust out of the office for a company lunch or even shake it up and do something fun, like go bowling together. Once you remove the "barriers" that exist in the four walls of the office environment, you’ll be amazed at how differently people communicate and the questions they'll ask.
Consider making yourself available to your team via instant messenger. Even IM can remove a barrier because it’s quick, informal and short (like Twitter). Just be careful about tone, which can be hard to decipher via IM or email.
4. Open Your Door
Yes, you're the CEO, but if you're not in a meeting, keep your door open so that your teams knows if they need something, they simply need to walk through it. Having an open door, both physically and in your attitude about how you communicate and are available to your employees, sends an important signal.
Be approachable and transparent in what you communicate, and you will help your employees feel that they're valued and an important part of driving growth each and every day.
What do you do to foster internal communication at your company? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
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