Large and small businesses alike struggle with poor internal communication. In fact, as many as 86% of working professionals cite it as a primary cause of workplace failures.
Improving communication within your company can directly increase workflow efficiency as well as boost retention rates and revenue. Better internal communication, after all, facilitates better external communication. And yet 60% of businesses lack a long-term strategy to remedy internal communication issues.
Your company, however, doesn’t have to be one of them. By following the business communication best practices we outline below—and our tips for creating an improvement strategy—you’ll put your team on track for success. We also cover a few tools you can use that will make it as easy as possible for you and your team to incorporate these best practices into your workflow.
5 effective business communication best practices
So what are the internal business communication best practices you need to follow to promote collaboration and prevent misunderstandings among team members? In short:
1 Be open and honest.
2 Keep messaging clear and simple.
3 Don’t just inform; inspire and engage.
4 Prioritize punctuality.
5 Be consistent.
Let’s dive a little deeper into what these will look like in the context of your team’s workflow:
1 Be open and honest
People value transparency and integrity; it fosters a sense of trust. Being “in the know” about what’s going on within your company also invites active participation rather than passive observation, thereby boosting employee engagement. This is especially important in written communication, where it’s all too easy to lose that vital human touch.
While complete transparency may not always be possible, the more openly and honestly you communicate, the better the results will be. You can achieve this by:
• Sharing updates on company health and milestones.
• Communicating both bad and good news.
• Being willing to admit (and remedy) a lack of knowledge around a specific issue or topic, and encouraging team members to do the same.
2 Keep messaging clear and simple
Clarity and simplicity are key to managing expectations and generating desirable results. Internally, this means greater efficiency and minimizing chances of misunderstandings. Ways to improve in this area include:
• Breaking elaborate ideas and processes down into specific steps and manageable pieces.
• Including images, videos, and analogies to illustrate abstract or complicated concepts.
• Using a proofreading tool or a digital writing assistant that can instantaneously assess the clarity and conciseness of written communication and provide suggestions for improvement.
3 Don’t just inform; inspire and engage
Merely telling someone the facts educates them; showing them why your message matters is essential. Connecting the dots in this way is what will ultimately evoke the response you’re looking for and inspire them to take action. Perhaps, they’ll even be more proactive. Engagement is key to growth, and motivating employees to be more engaged requires connecting on an emotional, not just intellectual, level. Try:
• Offering opportunities to play an active role in company growth and direction, e.g. surveys, focus groups, Q&A panels, and one-on-one conversations.
• Humanizing your brand by identifying and adopting a unique, specific tone and brand personality to be used internally as well as externally.
• Using a virtual tone detector to ensure written communications are aligned with your company’s preferred voice and tone.
4 Prioritize punctuality
Responding quickly to a comment, question, or request is about more than efficiency. It shows how much you value and respect the other person’s time and patience. Even in cases where it may take time to find the necessary information to answer a question, being prompt in letting the other person know you will get back to them later is far better than leaving them waiting in the dark. Consider:
• Using a messaging platform that will allow you to set up autoresponders for frequently asked questions with simple, straightforward answers.
• Implementing a writing assistant tool that can integrate with communication platforms like Google Docs and Chrome to instantly analyze messages and suggest changes before sending.
5 Be consistent
Consistency of information, as well as presentation, is key to creating a unified brand identity and preventing unnecessary confusion and frustration. To achieve this, you can:
• Create and internally distribute a clear and concise brand style guide.
• Offer regular training opportunities for reviewing (and perhaps revising) guidelines and ensuring company-wide compliance.
• Use a writing assistant tool with a customizable style guide function that will allow team members to quickly and easily check drafts against your company’s internal guidelines.
In order to implement these best practices effectively, you’ll need a strategy that’s tailored to fit your business’ unique needs and goals.
Creating a strategy to improve internal business communication
To craft a successful strategy around improving internal business communication, you will need to:
1 Assess the current state of communication: Use the best practices above to create a checklist for evaluating performance.
2 Identify strengths as well as areas for improvement: It’s equally important to celebrate what’s going well as it is to pinpoint what improvements can be made.
3 Prioritize those areas that require the most improvement: Use these to inform what goals you set and what tools you implement or upgrade first.
Having the right tools on hand can make all the difference in how quickly and effectively your strategy can be implemented—and how soon you’ll start to see results.