Silence in the office is not always a sign of hard work taking place but could be simmering mistrust or anxiety. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can adversely affect the work environment and while employers/leaders may often take it lightly, the team will always think otherwise.

Recently, I was reading Michael Kanaabi’s article in one of the local dailies, ‘Boss- worker relations spur output, says experts’, and I realized that internal communication is of vital importance. This is something that should no longer just be left to Human Resource and top management. Companies need to take internal communication more seriously to help nip a crisis in the bud and limit office tension.

In his article, Michael suggests that employers/leaders should share the organization’s challenges as much as possible with the employees. He believes employees should, within basic guidelines, be given the leeway to come up with solutions to various company problems. This concept may seem hard to implement but the results are quite admirable especially for small team organisations. Many organisations are structured with boards of directors who are supposed to address all issues concerning the company. Nevertheless, this structure can also create a communication vacuum especially if the board is detached from the company and the team.

Employers/leaders need to appreciate that employees deserve to know and clearly understand the situation of the company so that they know where they stand in the scheme of things. As much as you, the employer/leader hold most of the strings, employees would also like to believe, they are secure and you have their best interests at heart. They need to understand that your decisions are purely objective and justifiable especially if these decisions concern them and their progress in the company.

With internal communication, one needs to be up-to-date. Workforce demographics are always changing and each generation comes with different ways of communicating. Avoid office politics as much as possible, people are more interested in collaboration, transparency and candid feedback. Common goals are often forgotten or not taken seriously in an atmosphere of little communication. As long as employees feel they are not trusted or valued enough with pertinent information, they will begin to care less about company goals and will only function to get their pay at the end of the month.

Employers/leaders should always be conscious of employees’ quest for a sense of reason and purpose. It is no longer a ‘do it’, ‘I want’ and ‘follow’ work system. People nowadays would like to understand why you set particular goals, what plans you have of getting there and how they can position themselves to achieve these targets and beyond. They would like to feel appreciated and part of the team and not mere followers. If it’s about command and demand then know that internal communication is a challenge for the company and will soon result in a toxic office environment.

Humans are naturally curious. Where there is no well-functioning internal communication system, staff will rely on usually unreliable, if not malicious sources, for the desired information pertaining to their company. Fast, reliable and interactive channels of internal communication help keep teams together, moving forward and motivated. Most companies implement the top-to-bottom system which could have downsides. It could lead to delays, limited feedback and complete dependence on individuals. Information could be going out, but the snag is; it could be reaching people who actually don’t perform the actual ‘heavy lifting’.

Empowering middle management at all times with the required resources and information available will allow them to be the best possible leaders and communicators for the team. A well structured internal communication strategy could allow company leaders to understand their workforce better and defuse perceptions of prejudice. The company benefits more if it has a communication flow that is interactive and open as it creates a better work environment, enhances transparency, limits rumours and that sense of exclusion. There are plenty of benefits for well-aligned internal communications but this depends on whether you’re a foresighted employer/leader and want your company to thrive or not.

About the Author: Immaculate Namanda

Immaculate has a solid grounding in account management. She knows the market, with skills in strategic positioning, media and client relations together with project coordination and management. Prior to joining WMC Africa, she headed media relations, brand positioning, strategic writing, CSI initiatives and events management at the Alam Group.

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