What is organizational communication?
Organizational communication describes all of the ways your company communicates, both internally and externally, with employees and customers. It involves internal communication, such as manager communication to employees, and external communication, like messages from the marketing team to consumers.
Importance of organizational communication
Organizational communication is important because it impacts areas such as employee engagement, customer satisfaction and public perception. Engaged employees are more productive and have increased morale. Additionally, satisfied customers and a positive public perception increase sales and garner more attention for your business. Consistent, professional, effective communication in all directions helps to improve your company’s operations.
Why you need an organizational communication strategy
Effective organizational communication doesn’t just happen. You need a plan and established procedures for different communication situations to make it work. Establishing acceptable communication strategies gives your employees the tools they need to express their opinions, share knowledge and interact professionally with customers.
Creating an organizational communication plan
Establish policies and a written plan to guide your company-wide communications. Use these tips to help create your plan:
1. Determine goals
Define the purpose of your communication plan. This might include things such as creating a consistent brand image, increasing employee engagement or improving productivity.
2. Evaluate current communications
Identify current strengths and weaknesses in your internal and external communications. You can use a combination of analytics and feedback to gather relevant information. For example, you might look at the analytics on open rates for both internal and external emails, or you might create focus groups and feedback surveys.
3. Identify communication channels
You have lots of methods to communicate with employees and customers. Deciding which ones to use helps simplify your communications. You might set guidelines for when to use different channels. For example, you might use email for general workplace announcements, but you may require face-to-face communication for sensitive matters. Some communication channels include:
- Social media: Social media platforms let you reach a wide audience quickly and engage in two-way conversations. You can also create private social media groups for your employees as a communication channel. Creating a detailed social media policy establishes expectations for appropriate conduct.
- Internal messaging apps: Many collaboration and communication tools make it easy to direct information to individuals or teams within the office. Slack and Jabber are two examples.
- Video conferencing: Whether you have remote workers or let employees work from home on occasion, visual communication allows them to thrive. Accommodate their communicative and collaborative needs by communicating through video rather than email or messaging.
- Phone: Calling someone is a traditional communication method, but it still has a place in many business settings. It can speed up communication by eliminating waits for return emails or texts, and it lets you complete a back-and-forth conversation in a short time frame.
- Email: Emailing is also a fast communication tool, and it works well to disperse information to a large number of people at once. Establish what can and can’t be put in email messages. For example, confidential information shouldn’t be sent via email because of the risk of hacking.
4. Establish messaging guidelines
One benefit of having written communication strategies is that it allows for consistent messaging. Internally, this helps employees know what to expect. Externally, it helps build your brand image. Examples of messaging guidelines include:
- Set expectations for tone and professionalism in communications.
- Establish layout guidelines when applicable.
- Address timing, including how frequently certain types of communication should happen.
- Identify what types of communication are helpful and which types should be avoided.
- Detail other restrictions or best practices for communications.
How to improve organizational communication
Improving communication for managers and employees benefits your company overall. The following steps outline how to improve organizational communication within your business:
Create a communication policy
Establish all guidelines and expectations in a company policy on communication. Adjust the policy as needed to address new communication roadblocks or methods as they arise.
Lead by example
Practicing effective communication as a leader helps set the tone in your company. Your employees are likely to match your communication style in their interactions. Ensure your managers are also sticking to your standards to create additional real-world examples of how to communicate well.
Implementing communication tools makes it easier to communicate internally. Intranet software lets you create a central location to disperse information to employees. Collaborative digital workspaces allow you to instantly share documents and information among team members. Technology can also help with external communication, such as chat functions on your website that let customers contact you quickly.
Provide safe and private spaces
Within the office, open spaces are great for fostering teamwork, but they’re not viable for every circumstance. Consider private spaces for holding meetings or separate work areas. These types of spaces encourage creativity and provide fewer distractions compared to the main work area.
Prioritize two-way communication
Provide a two-way communication opportunity in every channel throughout your organization. Communicating to employees without providing an opportunity to respond creates an ineffective, one-sided conversation. Instead of making major announcements through email, try explaining new ideas through organizational chat applications or social media pages, for example. They provide open forums that allow employees to offer feedback in real-time. Your message becomes more of an open discussion than an announcement, allowing the voices of all employees to be heard.
Focus on your company culture
Your organizational communications should relate to your company culture and overall goals. For example, if you want a company culture that reflects honesty and collaboration, establishing transparent communication among staff helps support that. If you’re working on improving your brand recognition, you might emphasize consistency in messaging and honing in on what makes your organization unique.
FAQs about organizational communication
Listed below are answers to some of the most common questions about organizational communication:
Is training necessary for implementing organizational communication strategies?
Some companies need formal communication training for better performance in the use of intranet services, safe spaces and video conferencing. Create training programs for your employees that cover some of the basics of organizational communication. If you already have certain communication applications in mind, consider including their use in your training as well.
What is the meaning-centered approach to organizational communication?
The meaning-centered approach is a way of understanding organizational communication by realizing how company culture and its overall reality are built on interactions. It’s more focused on what communication is and its effects on people rather than how it works.
What are some of the job titles associated with organizational communication roles?
Those with educational backgrounds in organizational communication find roles in both the public and private sectors. They focus on improving the channels of communication between employees and managers as well as the company and the public. They often specialize in a single area of organizational communication and oversee communication across multiple departments. Some of the job titles within this area include:
- Marketing director
- Public relations director
- Corporate communication consultant
- Project manager
- Human resources manager
- Public affairs specialist
What is the most critical aspects of organizational communication?
One of the most important aspects of this type of communication is the ability to respond to employee issues. The main reason to institute better organizational communication is to open channels with your employees so they can be heard. If you open a two-way communication channel, listen to what your employees have to say and address their questions, comments and concerns. Accepting and implementing honest and constructive feedback from employees builds trust and creates an improved corporate culture.