Two Foundational Factors of Reliable Communications
November 3, 2023
Without reliable communication, common but crucial tasks can become monumental challenges for employees to conquer. Making informed decisions, collaborating efficiently, and contributing effectively to organizational goals all hinge on communication channels everyone can rely on.
Recent research from Gitnux Market Data shows that 97% of workers believe that communication affects how efficiently they handle their job tasks every day.
Accuracy and timeliness are two core components of reliable internal communication. In this post, we’ll explore strategies that internal communicators can use to enhance their own communication reliability, focusing on these foundational areas.
Accuracy in Internal Communication
Accurate communication relays specific, demonstrable, and concrete information, avoiding vague and generic statements. In doing so, it builds trust and credibility.
Inaccurate information can erode that trust, which can lead to misunderstandings between employees and management, decreased employee morale, and reduced employee engagement.
Accuracy enables employees to make informed decisions.
Whether it pertains to their daily tasks, company policies, or strategic initiatives, employees rely on accurate information to perform their job responsibilities effectively.
Improving Accuracy in Internal Communication
Because accuracy is paramount in providing reliable internal communications, here are some strategies that can help to improve your organization’s internal comm accuracy.
Internal communicators should rigorously verify information sources. This includes fact-checking data, cross-referencing information using multiple sources, and ensuring that the information you provide is current and relevant. This is especially true when furnishing facts and figures.
Craft clear, concise content
Over-complicated language can lead to inconsistency, inaccuracy, and misinterpretation. In communications directed at a large group, it’s best to avoid industry jargon, obscure acronyms, slang, and technical terms that might confuse employees. If you must communicate complex or technical information, provide explanations or definitions.
Establish feedback loops
Providing accurate information to employees is only the first step. It is equally important that organizations create mechanisms through which employees can provide feedback about the accuracy of the information they receive. Asking the right feedback questions can help identify and rectify any inaccuracies quickly.
Positive feedback loops allow employees to provide internal communicators and management with constructive criticism and complaints. Develop the feedback loop that works for your organization. Some ideas for implementing a positive feedback loop include:
- Conducting surveys
- Directly requesting feedback in response to email blasts
- Addressing internal communications during periodic staff meetings
Finally, act on the feedback you receive. Employees are sure to become demoralized and disengaged if they feel like they’re talking into the void.
Timeliness in Internal Communication
Timeliness refers to the speed at which information is delivered to employees, and the timing of those messages. While providing employees with accurate information is essential, sharing accurate information at the wrong time can deflate its value.
The importance of timeliness
PwC’s report, The Chemistry of Communication: Framing your communication to cut through the noise, mentions that a message’s efficacy depends not only on its content, but also its timing.
Timely updates on important matters — such as company performance or changes in policies — keep employees engaged and informed.
Timeliness enables operational efficiency
Timely information is necessary across many industries. It ensures that employees can perform their tasks efficiently. Without up-to-date data or knowledge, they will likely have to hunt down the pertinent information.
This inevitably leads to delays, information bottlenecks, and decreased productivity.
Timeliness is essential during crisis management
In times of crisis or change, timely communication is vital. Delayed or inadequate information during crises can lead to panic, confusion, and poor decision making.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) states that during a crisis, authentic internal communications require organizations to be ready to act quickly, decisively, and calmly when sharing information during a crisis.
How to deliver timely internal communications
There are a variety of ways to improve your organization’s communication timeliness. Below are several strategies to assist you with this endeavor.
One way to enable more timely internal communication is to use communication tools and platforms that facilitate real-time or near-real-time communication. Depending on your organization's needs, these tools can include tools like:
Modern intranets like Haystack can deliver communications across many of these channels simultaneously, saving time and resources when you need them most.
Prioritize critical information
Ensure that you disseminate the most critical information as quickly as possible to ensure the news is pertinent when employees receive it. Consider assigning an individual or group to release important updates to employees in real time.
Consider developing communication plans for specific scenarios, such as emergencies or major announcements. These plans should outline who is responsible for communication and the channels to use in each scenario.
Many organizations keep a crisis communication plan or disaster communication plan on hand for unexpected emergencies. Ensure your organization’s internal communicators and leaders receive ongoing training on following such plans and responding swiftly to emerging situations.
Preparedness can minimize delays in essential communication during crises.
Establish a routine for providing regular updates on important topics. Consider providing these updates via any number of methods, including:
- A weekly newsletter
- A monthly report
- A quarterly town hall meeting
Integration of Accuracy and Timeliness
While accuracy and timeliness are each their own distinct aspects of reliability in internal communication, they are actually interdependent, and much stronger together. Below are some ways to integrate timeliness and accuracy in an effective, efficient manner.
Establish clear communication goals
Establish clear, organization-wide communication objectives that include both accuracy and timeliness. The SMART goal framework can be helpful when setting internal communication goals. SMART goals are:
Conduct regular audits
Organizations should consider conducting periodic audits of internal communication practices and procedures. Such audits should seek to confirm that all involved are meeting the organization’s standards in terms of communication accuracy and timeliness.
These audits should also identify and recommend areas for improvement and guide organizational leadership to implement corrective measures.
Develop communication plans
Every organization should develop comprehensive written internal communication plans that address accuracy and timeliness for various scenarios. These plans should be flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances, especially during crises.
Foster cross-functional collaboration
Cross-functional collaboration between different departments helps ensure that both accuracy and timeliness are considered in all communication processes. Some of the departments to consider including might be:
- Internal communication
- Legal and compliance
- Senior leadership
The Crucial Interplay of Accuracy and Timeliness in Internal Communication
Accuracy forms the bedrock of trust and credibility within an organization. When information is accurate, employees feel more empowered to make informed decisions. To improve internal communication accuracy, organizations should prioritize:
- Source verification
- Use clear and concise language in communications
- Practice transparency
- Offer ongoing training
- Establish effective feedback loops
Equally vital is timeliness, which ensures that accurate information reaches employees when they need it most. Timely communication fosters engagement, enables operational efficiency, and is indispensable during crisis management.
Strategies that can help organizations to better their communication timeliness include:
- Leveraging technology
- Prioritizing critical information
- Developing and honing communication plans
- Providing regular updates
- Setting clear communication goals
- Auditing communication channels and strategies
- Fostering cross-functional collaboration
In modern organizations, where information flows incessantly, prioritizing these two essential elements of communication, organizations lays the foundation for not just effective internal communication.