Communicating to the Workplace

6 min. read

Internal communication is how leadership speaks to the workplace, and it deserves a thoughtful approach

"Internal communication" is simply defined as exchanging information between different parts of an organization. It can be done through emails, internal blog posts, or live meetings. Like all communication, it's important to ensure messages are understood as intended. When leadership and administrative staff communicate with members of the workplace, it becomes even more important. Each recipient understanding the message can have a big impact on the business and on the employees.

Organize by Importance

Say the most important things first. For example, when announcing a change to a policy or process, make sure that the effective date appears at the beginning. Do not leave audiences hunting through messages for the key facts. Before making a communication, consider what typical employees will need to know for their own purposes. That is the critical information. Consolidate the critical information so that all of it appears within the first 300 words of the communication.

Resist the temptation to spend more than a sentence or two at the beginning for background or reasoning.

Example of Disorganized Communication: Teams, devs, leaders and all. We have been considering a change in time off policy. After much deliberation the leadership team has decided to roll out to an unlimited PTO policy. I know you have some questions since this is new for us. We are very proud to be able to offer this....

Example of Organized Communication: Good morning. It is important to our workplace that everyone have time off to enjoy life. Starting April 1, 2024 we are changing our policies to give all salaried employees unlimited paid time off. Here is how we will now request and track time off....

Be Clear and Understandable

Communicate using words that are familiar and easy to understand. Make sentences simple—saying one thing at a time. Doing these things will make your message easy to understand and to remember. In general, use words that any ninth-grader would know. Do not use acronyms or technical terms unless you have to, and when you do then give a simple definition. Sometimes it takes a few more words to be clear.

Example of Unclear Communication: At the beginning of each calendar quarter estimate your PTO days. Send your estimate to your DS with breakout of coverage options within a week of quarter start.

Example of Clear Communication: At the beginning of each calendar quarter estimate the number of days you will take time off. A "calendar quarter" is a part of the year. There are four quarters in the year, beginning on January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1. Send your estimated number of days to your direct supervisor in an email. Tell your supervisor who on the team is able to do your duties for you while you are gone. Do this no later than five workdays after the start of the quarter.

Focus the Message

Each communication (post, email, meeting, or other format) should cover only the topics that the workplace needs to know. Make a list of the things you absolutely want readers to know. Include those in the message. Prepare your message and review it. If you find any additional topics after review, consider removing them. The shorter the message is, the more likely that recipients will understand all of it.

Example of Unfocused Communication: We're considering how to address unspent time off. Currently we pay out unspent days except in cases of involuntary termination. Since you are used to that we decided to replace that with 30 days for everyone except in cases of involuntary termination. But this is subject to change. We are looking to possibly phase this to a tiered benefit system and will let you know when the new policy is adopted.

Example of Focused Communication: The previous time off system system paid departing employees money equal to their usual wages for unspent days. The new system will give all departing employees money equal to their usual wages for 30 days.

Repeat Things as Often as Necessary

The great thing about communication is that you can repeat as needed. It only costs a little time. Most leaders are familiar with the frustrating thought, "How many times do I have to say this?!" The most helpful and true answer is, "At least once more." It is a welcome relief to realize that it is okay to repeat things. Repeating things is (basically) free. Repeating means that you are helping people get, remember, and understand important information. Don't put artificial limits on communication—if it's important, keep repeating it!

Example of Limited Communication: This is the last time I'm going to say it: we have to close all support tickets within 48 hours. I'm tired of repeating myself.

Example of Repeated Communication: You've probably heard me say that we have to close all support tickets within 48 hours. I'll say it again and I want it to be something we set our sights on every day. We have to close all support tickets within 48 hours.

Make Every Message Purpose-driven

Every company, every organization, and every workplace has a purpose. The purpose is the reason why we provide our products and services. Purpose is powerful: when employees know and admire the purpose they are more productive, more dedicated, and feel happier. When delivering a message, tie in the workplace's purpose in a meaningful way. Explain that what the message says is aimed at advancing the purpose.

Example of a Purposeless Communication: Enjoy your time off. It's very exciting to be able to make your lives better and help you lose some stress.

Example of Purposeful Communication: Our workplace's purpose is to "Empower customers by creating simple, effective, and elegant tools." We want you to pursue that purpose without worrying how your life could interfere. We know that you will be more creative, thoughtful, and excited to be empowering customers when you are celebrating and living to the fullest with this new time off policy.

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