One of the key things in any business, no matter how large or how small, is communication. It’s easy to remember to communicate with your suppliers and customers, but what about the people who work for you?
Your staff are one of the most important assets you have, so make sure they feel respected and part of a team.
Your staff don’t need to know everything about your company, but you do need to tell them about plans to expand, any new contracts you may have been given, and even if you plan to have a promotion. You must remember that when a potential or existing customer calls your business, they will often speak to members of your staff. If they don’t appear to know what’s going on with the business, it doesn’t create a very professional appearance.
Then there are your field team, if you have one, and you may use contractors or virtual staff – they all need to feel part of the team if you want them to do their best for you. Contractors may not be employed by you, but they do represent your company, so they must know as much as everyone else about your business.
Creating a good inter-company communication system is not as hard as it sounds. You don’t need to find the time to sit down and write up a newsletter to be posted out to anyone – unless, of course, you want to. This doesn’t give your staff the opportunity to communicate with you anyway, so you need to find a reliable method which allows 2-way communication.
Why do you need to communicate?
When it comes to communication, there are many reasons you need to keep everyone who works for you informed.
- You need to keep your staff informed, particularly if they are in touch with your customers or suppliers. If they do not appear to know about the business or have to find out about promotions which are currently running, then this won’t instill much confidence in anyone else.
- If your staff members know what is going on, they will feel like they are valued and respected members of the company. This in turn rewards you with more loyalty and they will offer better service too.
- If you have a field team, then it’s very important to be able to communicate quickly and efficiently in case of emergency, or if a problem arises and they need to know about it.
- There are occasions, such as a big marketing campaign, where your staff may be expected to work over time. It’s nice to give them advanced warning of this so that they can plan ahead.
- If you allow your staff to communicate back to you, you also get the benefit of their knowledge and experience. Instead of just doing what you think is right, they can give you ideas and suggestions of what has and hasn’t worked in the past, and can give you a valuable insight in to areas of your business which may not be running quite as smoothly as you’d like.
How can you communicate?
Modern technology makes it much easier to set up an effective communication channel. Field workers can be given a company phone, and you can get in touch easily. If you think that’s all they need, then you’re wrong.
Similarly it’s not enough to send in-house emails to advise people of your plans. Most people tend to ignore anything which is not important so that they can look at it later – and that often means your emails will be overlooked.
So what can you do?
Whichever method of communication you choose, always encourage your staff members to provide you with feedback about working practices, concerns they may have and ideas they have to help you promote the business.
- Many companies feel the benefit of having a chat channel open during working hours, so that everyone can post if they have a problem they need help to resolve. There are many chat clients you can use for this. Skype, Slack and Facebook Workplace are just three with work well.
- Some companies prefer to use an intranet, and this often has more than just a chat option. Intranets are used only by members of the company, and allow you to share company news, staff news and provide a work based chat room too.
- Social media is another popular means of communication. Private groups can be set up so that everyone can chat about problems they are experiencing, and you can let them know of any plans you have with your business.
If you communicate with everyone in your business, you will find they can do their jobs more efficiently and you will get the benefit or better productivity and customer retention.