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The Pros and Cons of Internal Communications Systems

Two friends shaking hands, by thetaxhaven

Life would be simpler if people communicated better. Miscommunication is one of the biggest causes of stress and tension in the workplace. If managers would just communicate tasks clearly, staff would be more confident about their responsibilities. If staff would just communicate their needs clearly, managers could delegate tasks more. Open lines of communication enable effective problem solving, from interpersonal office relationships to business administration problems.

Effective internal communication ensures that all staff members work together as a unit. It fosters morale and leaves no room for misunderstandings that have the potential to cost companies a small fortune in profits, and that have the potential to cost workers their jobs.

Pros and Cons of Internal Communications Systems

  • Meetings: a firm favorite among most companies no matter what their size. Meetings are very effective for communicating things like weekly or monthly progress, announcing changes, announcing awards and events and touching base on various projects that are underway.

    But, meetings should be as short and succinct as possible. Long, drawn out meetings will leave employees bored out of their wits, especially if they have very little bearing on their jobs. So, only invite people who are essential.
     

  • One-on-one meetings: sometimes called performance reviews. These are great for discussing personal goals and objectives, challenges and other issues that employees would rather not bring up in front of the entire office.

    However, they can also be associated with disciplinary actions, warnings and slaps on the wrist. It’s a good idea to regularly call in employees to congratulate them on the good work that they are doing and to express your gratitude for their dedication. That way a visit to the managers often won’t be anticipated with dread.
     

  • Emails: which have largely replaced written or printed memos. Email is handy because with one click you can communicate with one person or a department of 20 people. It’s relatively safe and secure – provided emails aren’t printed, they can’t be left lying around for anyone to read and because there is record of sent and received emails, no one can claim that they were left outside of the loop. Conversely, no one can claim that they kept everyone informed when records show that they didn’t.

    However, emails can be misinterpreted. Some people read tone where there is none and some people unintentionally add tone through their phrasing. There is also the chance that emails can be sent to the wrong people – it happens, a lot. And, emails can be forwarded to external sources, no matter what employment contracts say about confidentiality and non-disclosure.
     

  • Instant messages: great for immediate communication. Platforms like Skype are brilliant for immediately conveying information within businesses. The advantages for companies with branches dotted around the country or even around the world are numerous. They also facilitate communication within large office blocks where departments are on different floors. The feedback is instant, as the name suggests and the convenience is untold.

    But, systems can be exploited. Staff can spend all day engaging in idle chit-chat, exchanging office gossip, and rumor mongering. They can also communicate with people outside of the business, and so can spend the day chatting to girlfriends who work on the other side of town. Either way, the time and productivity lost can be enormous.

    There is also the chance that messages can be sent to the wrong person, which is not only mortifying but which can also have horrendous consequences.
     

  • Print: the good old written word. Print goes beyond memos and meeting minutes. It includes office notice boards, communication packs, brochures and the like. Some people still like to receive pieces of paper that they can use as points of reference or reminders. They work better with paper than emails and instant messages, which can be forgotten or buried in overflowing inboxes.

    But, paper can also be lost underneath piles of other discarded paper. They can be ignored because it doesn’t count unless it comes electronically. They can also be lost or taken home and otherwise distributed to people who shouldn’t see them.

The importance of effective internal communication can’t be under-estimated. But companies need to realisz that it’s a two-way street and they need to match the medium to the message. Don’t fire anyone via Skype, for example.

It’s a good idea to devise a strategy for internal communications, especially for the most common processes, like announcing change and conducting performance reviews. It’s also a good idea to have a dedicated department to manage internal communications; it can usually be handled by your HR people.

 

This guest post was written by Sandy Cosser on behalf of Dynamics Careers, which advertises jobs for MS Dynamics NAV developers, whose work is invaluable in help HR and service management professionals do their jobs.

 

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