Three things most employees want from their employers
Internal Communications can get left at the bottom of the pile, but just as a fish rots from the head down, real change happens from the inside out.
Plus it’s easier to inspire internal advocates to promote your business, than to warm cold leads through ‘first-touch point’ marketing. It’s a win-win for positive employee morale and business development, so why not give your team a culture and a vision they can invest in and shout about?
Internal Comms is crucial for a healthy operational ecosystem, therefore I often begin my strategic process with team and management interviews to extract a sense of what’s missing from an organisation, what’s great, and what could be better.
This is process is weighted more qualitatively (subjectively) than quantitatively (statistically), requiring an element of interpretation. However, the findings that have been surprisingly consistent across all independent interviews are that employees highly value these three things:
1. The ability to grow with a business
People want to feel like they are a part of something that is blossoming as a result of their collective hard work and management’s unfailing drive. If something isn’t growing, it’s stagnant, and that means people run into the ‘boredom wall’.
This doesn’t mean you need to grow in team numbers, or take on more work than you can cope with, it means to make sure there is some agility with the way systems improve, allowing employees to work better as a team.
2. The ability to impact a business positively
Everyone wants to feel like they are contributing, that their efforts mean something. This is where tangible impact comes in. Setting KPIs, having regular check ins, giving people responsibility and trusting them to do right by the organisation are all great ways to help personal impact to occur.
You could task someone with a small challenge, like helping the organisation minimise paper usage through appropriate procedures and communications. This is just one example in a giant ecosystem of internal operations – whatever you think might have them rise to the occasion, be sure to give them the opportunity. Give employees space and empowerment to research and develop their own solution.
Most importantly, to impact change you need to change manage. Ensure you are advocating for this person from the get-go and giving them the tools to communicate the value of improvement from all stakeholders’ perspectives.
3. The ability to mentor others
They say if you want to get better at something, you should teach it. Giving employees the opportunity to mentor others – as long as they’re not pushed for time or dealing with sheer incompetence or utter disengagement – will be very rewarding for both.
A good first step is to establish a buddy system. Pair people with others who have complementary skills, and give them the time to teach one another.
Another method is to create ‘experts’ amongst your staff for different skill sets. If someone is particularly good at something, publicly praise them for it and encourage people to go with questions to them for help. Make sure you clear this with the ‘expert’ first!
There are other ways you can also establish and foster positive internal communications:
Because your employees are on the front line experiencing process breakdowns, customer service concerns, and are caught-up in team dynamics, they are often the most appropriate representatives to extract insights from as a way to inform operational improvements.
Don’t fear too many cooks in the kitchen when asking for feedback or implementing change. Appoint a very small group (3-5) of key decisions makers who, with everyone’s best interests in mind, have the final say. This clearly defined group should only engage the broader team at calculated times so as to not confuse the process.
People will respect the opportunity to be involved, and most reasonable people will understand that not every item on the wish list is achievable.
Responsibility breeds responsibility, so giving company representatives clearly defined roles will allow them to rise to the occasion.
Mentor them and really listen on an ongoing basis – never underestimate how important it is to give them a respectful space to share their thoughts, feelings and opinions without judgement.
Get rid of your ego when you’re around your team (or all together if possible!). We’re all a little insecure about our personal and professional abilities at times, but it’s become common place amongst leaders to feel that they need to lead with their wins. This is appropriate in a new client meeting, but not in an employee review, mentoring session or team meeting. It’s not about you, it’s about them – carry the torch humbly.
Celebrate the team wins and ensure there are established and easy-to-use communications tools such as slack, google chat or a bespoke intranet to share the news promptly and broadly.
Give them a clear vision to get behind – it helps to have both aspirational goals to reach for, and achievable goals to measure successes and boost confidence.
Most importantly, plan a strategy for internal stakeholders the same way you would external stakeholders. They are crucial to the health and wellbeing of your business.
As the captain of the ship, you need to invest in your people – they are the ones repairing the holes in the hull and sailing you into new lands.