Transparency is a big deal. I remember my first relationship in high school ended because my boyfriend at the time failed to tell me that he attended a party with his ex one weekend. Just like holding information back from a significant other can be detrimental, not being open and honest with employees has the same effect. There’s a fancy term for keeping employees in the loop. We MarCom folks call it internal communications.
When the uppers (executives) make decisions, it’s up to the communications team to disseminate that information in a carefully worded way to the internal audience. If this goes sour or doesn’t happen at all, companies can face serious consequences. Take Wells Fargo for example, employees felt so much pressure to perform well that they performed unethically! As the general public we watched in surprise and disgust at the lengths a once beloved company chose to take. Internally, we can only imagine how horrible things were going.
When your internal audience is fed up with decision makers and morale is low among your team as a whole, effective internal communications can keep a small fire from destroying an entire forest. Here’s how:
- Start the conversation early. Before a crisis strikes in your organization (and it will) open the line of communication with the internal audience. Keep them abreast of what’s going on in your organization both positive and negative. Give them opportunities to ask questions and provide suggestions.
- Create internal communications plans. Before critical decisions are made, create a communication plan that will ensure that the internal audience is aware of what is about to happen. Last minute releases are never a good idea internally. You want to be ahead of the story ALWAYS. Internal communication is no different.
- Be transparent. I said it in the opening of this post and I’ll restate this once more. Transparency is a big deal. Your internal audience won’t trust decision makers if they sense dishonesty or hesitation to tell the whole truth. Transparency is the key to preventing leaks to the media. Transparency is the key to keeping the internal audience loyal to the organization. Transparency is the key to making your internal audience feel like they matter. Organizations cannot afford to not be transparent.
You need trust between the uppers and the rest of the internal audience. Build trust and healthy relationships now so that when a crisis comes, your organization is prepared to combat the negative press without internal folks throwing logs in the fire against you. There is nothing worse in the communications world than allowing someone else to control the narrative of your organization. Get ahead and stay ahead of the story by building trust with employees now!