Streamline Internal Communication to Drive Employee Engagement

Streamline Internal Communication to Drive Employee Engagement

Nicole Malachowski |

Reliable internal team communication is vital to mission success. It can streamline workflow, drive colleague engagement, and build deeper levels of trust. During my time as the commander of the 333rd Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB, NC, I learned a thing or two about effective (and sometimes ineffective) internal communication. I believe some of the basic principles I learned can be applied across professions. Here are five ways you can foster more effective internal communication:  

  1. Establish the Chain of Communication
    In the military, we have a set chain of command. While this type of formal hierarchy doesn't work in every organization, the idea of establishing levels of communication accountability and responsibility remains. Employees need to know who to contact if they need assistance, to share information, or to elevate concerns. For example, can an employee reach out to the manager of another department directly to ask a question, or do you prefer it filter through their supervisor first? Ensuring your employees know how communication is expected to flow facilitates more efficient and straightforward engagement. It also helps reduce miscommunication.
  1. Create Clear Process and Procedure
    Teammates should have a clear understanding of the process and procedures that guide their specific function and contribution. This helps ensure there are no unnecessary overlaps, or gaps, between roles and responsibilities. There will always be one-off situations where the regular workflow doesn’t accommodate the need of a certain project, but in general clear responsibilities should grant a solid base for clearer communication.
  1. Communicate Regularly
    Scheduled, reliable, and consistent communication is vital. It’s important to provide known times and venues for team engagement and communication to happen. It needs to be part of the daily battle rhythm and operational tempo of your team. Make time to discuss intermittent steps, milestone achievement, and the small wins along the way. Consistent communication inspires and catalyzes continued engagement. Do you want to have a daily meeting or weekly lunch? Maybe a Newsletter or monthly wrap-up?   
  1. Consistently Refer Back to Mission Success
    Communication should be focused on the mission at hand and reduce extraneous topics or discussions.

Let people know how milestones or activities are moving you closer, or further from, your team’s goal. We’re all busy, stay on target with your communication.  

  1. 5. Evaluate the Impact of Your Communication
    How do you know if your team’s internal communication is effective? Take stock of your measures of performance and any trends, positive or negative. Get out onto the frontlines and have conversations and ask questions. It becomes pretty clear rather quickly what communication has filtered down and if it was received accurately. Cut to the chase: directly ask your frontline teammates how the communication process feels to them. Is it clear and concise, or is it muddled and confusing? Authentic conversations can be quite illuminating as to what is, and is not, hitting the mark. Are you missing the target? Regroup and reassess communication needs across the team, make any necessary tweaks (try something new!), and try again.

How do you drive effective internal communication across your team?  

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