As a parent, I remember saying this to my kids when they shouted in the house. After all, there’s an appropriate tone for outside, where they could yell their little heads off, and one for inside, where I expected them to be quieter (though didn't always succeed). Organizations tend to put the majority of their focus on their outside voices – communicating to their customers and the public. After all, this is key to their success; sales, donations, positive public recognition, customer retention and customer service all require high-quality outbound communications.
But what about a company’s inside voice? While most leaders agree that it’s important to communicate with staff, smaller companies and non-profits often don’t have the resources to do so. Instead, information is disseminated sporadically by different authors who haven't coordinated their messaging and who possess a range of communications skills. Typical communicators include the Leadership team, Human Resources and the Marketing & Communications team, but they can also be anyone in the company who has access to the (very dangerous) “all staff” email address.
When infrequent, disjointed messages reach employees, it can cause organizational confusion (“Why are we being told to change this process two different ways?”), resentment (“Why hasn’t my team been part of the decision-making process?”), and finally, to job dissatisfaction (“I’m tired of working for a leadership team that keeps everything a secret!”).
What I’m finding now is that organizations without the ongoing funding required for dedicated internal communications are beginning to invest not in outsourcing the communications, but outsourcing the planning of them. I believe the best inside voice continues to come from within the company, but leadership is now looking outside for temporary help in structuring how and when to communicate – particularly because her staff simply doesn’t have the time to do so. This may involve a consultant analyzing and streamlining current communications efforts, creating an internal content calendar, and setting up templates and processes for key authors within the following communications vehicles:
With standardization and planning in place, it’s easier to spread out assigned responsibilities while maintaining a consistent voice. Employees benefit from being able to anticipate an open communications path – from understanding the brand – to knowing when employees enter and exit the organization – to what to expect at quarterly company meetings – to where to locate documents – to how to find the latest company news. A clear inside voice garners transparency and understanding, and ultimately, makes for engaged employees who want to stick around.
Need help planning for a better inside voice? We can work your with Leadership, Human Resources and Marketing & Communications teams to get you there (no yelling involved).