Internal Communications: When to throw the rule book out the window.

Over time, there have been no shortage of articles and posts written about improving internal communications within a business. After all, internal comms is often considered one of the biggest weaknesses in many modern-day businesses.

I’ve read some really good pieces that recommend implementing best practice systems and processes that ensure everything is communicated, regular meetings are held to make sure everybody is across everything, and even events are organised to keep everyone interested and motivated.

Sure… in a regular 9 to 5, fully connected white collar workplace, this sort of thing can work well.

But… what about those workplaces where employees work remotely, are somewhat disconnected from technology, they’re shift workers, they work a whole variety of different jobs, and they don’t work from a desk.

What about businesses that operate in an industry where security concerns can hinder open and free flowing communication?

Well, as you get the idea, in many non-traditional workplaces the normal rules of internal communication just don’t apply.

Here in my first article on what will be a series of improving internal communication within non-traditional businesses, I’m going to start with the most important thing.


Step 1: Do your groundwork. Do your groundwork. Do your groundwork.

Yes, it’s worth saying three times because it is that important.

This is where you really learn the business, and more importantly understand how the different employees within the business work on a day to day basis.

  • When do they work?
  • Where do they work?
  • How do they work?
  • When are their busiest times?
  • What does their physical environment look like?
  • What are their biggest challenges?
  • What tools do they have available to them?
  • What technology do they have available to them?
  • What motivates them in their job?
  • What de-motivates them in their job?
  • What inspires them?
  • What frustrates them?
  • What are their thoughts on current internal communications?
  • What ideas do they have for improvement?

This is what I refer to as the who, what, where, when and how.

By going through this process, you will discover so much valuable information to feed into developing your strategy.

But remember, this cannot be done from sitting at your desk. You need to physically get out there amongst it.

Start your basic groundwork by spending time with these employees. Jump into their shoes, work alongside them, become one of them. Transform into chef, or a delivery person or a security guard for a couple of days. Observe their periods of high and low productivity, pay attention to their lingo, investigate what makes them happy and what it is that they really want from the company.

Don’t take this part of the process lightly, and don’t rush it. Make sure you are spending time with people from a cross section of different employee groups to get a better idea of the bigger picture and ensure that your observations are grounded in reality.

Stay tuned for my next post when I look into some of the most common mistakes made when it comes to effective internal communications in a non-traditional workplace, and how to avoid them.


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