How Internal Communication Helps Start-ups Grow
Let’s start with the story of a foosball table.
Lets-be-cool Company leased some swanky office space, bought a foosball table and some bean bag chairs, then patted themselves on the back for building a great corporate culture that would attract and retain the best talent.
But there was trouble brewing because Lets-be-cool Company didn’t communicate well internally. Poor internal communication wasn’t a problem when the company consisted of just the founders and a handful of people; but as the company grew, so did employee engagement problems. Productivity waned, innovation was lacking, growth slowed, chaos reigned, and the foosball table sat in the corner unused.
Great internal communications programs help inspire, involve and inform employees – essential ingredients for accelerating growth. Great employee communications can increase the efficiency of your organization, boost productivity, drive performance, and increase employee engagement. It can enable quick decisions, help react to a rapidly changing marketplace, and contribute to a dynamic corporate culture with true personality. Internal communications can do a lot more than a foosball table!!!!
Here are three ways employee communication helps start-up companies grow:
Provide inspiration, motivation, and direction
Start-ups begin with ideas and dreams. A great internal communications strategy will help everyone understand what you are trying to achieve by articulating a clear vision. Four Seasons Hotels grew from a small hotel in Toronto to an international conglomerate by coming up with a simple message that fuelled a service culture and helped everyone understand the company’s strategy.
In addition to motivating employees, a clear vision can also help guide employees. In an autonomous world, giving people clear direction and purpose helps to ensure their efforts are focused on results.
Involve employees and help them be heard
Employee communication can help harness ideas and feedback, fuelling innovation. Millennials in particular want to be heard, but all employees regardless of age or role can be encouraged to feed the idea pipeline. In the early days of a start-up, new ideas can easily be shared but as a company grows it can be harder to harness ideas because the natural flow of communication ceases. Being able to involve people from all levels and functions taps into the diverse perspectives in an organization.
Getting people involved in company activities and programs is also important. As start-ups grow, they may implement a rewards and recognition program, or need to promote a mental health program for example. A sound communications strategy and program can make it easier to get employee buy-in and participation.
Give employees the information and tools to get the job done
As companies grow, processes and procedures need to be documented in order to prevent chaos and to make it easier for people to do their jobs. Instead of thinking of documentation as unnecessary and bureaucratic, think of it as promoting efficiency and best practices (so your employees have time to dream up the next big thing, meet a deadline, or play foosball).
According to a recent study, a business with 100 employees spends an average of 17 hours a week clarifying communications at a cost of about half a million dollars a year. How frustrating is it for your new employees to figure out how to get reimbursed for business travel or understand what the sales department knows about customer preferences? Providing good documentation and the tools to help people easily find this information will save time, prevent headaches, and build value in your business.
Never too early to start
Start-ups would be smart to think about internal communications early. Begin by developing an internal communication strategy that ensures employees are inspired, involved and informed. It doesn’t need to be complicated but it should establish goals, identify useful communication tools and channels, while providing the ability to measure, adjust and improve along the way.