Shawnee Love • January 23, 2020
In the theme of trying new things to grow and solidify your business, this week I want to encourage use of an internal communication tool.
Slack or MS Teams are the ones I hear about most often, but I have also heard of clients building their own internal forums or creating wikis or Q&A areas using google docs and drop box.
To be honest, I think the specific technology selected is less important than having a way to communicate amongst colleagues when face to face isn’t always possible. Group texts and group emails can work too, but I find them more invasive because the messages get pushed to you whether you like it or not. Having a wiki or the ability to jump in and out of an app like Teams or Slack allow you and your employees to engage on your own terms.
Why I encourage an internal communication tool is because they:
- Create opportunities to collaborate (even for people working remotely),
- Allow knowledge and experience sharing between people,
- Are an informal and efficient way to get information to colleagues,
- Become centralized repositories of organizational intelligence, and
- They are searchable, so the information can be found in the future.
For leaders, seeing the kinds of questions and dialogue on an internal communication tool gives insight into obstacles, knowledge gaps, and opportunities to improve as well as how people are feeling about the organization from the tone and language used.
Even with all these benefits, there are a few things to watch out for. In the case of internal communication tools, the two biggest issues I come across are:
- They become a time suck because people jump in and out all day (and don’t realize how much time they use overall) or people are deliberately avoiding work and know it is difficult for the manager to monitor or determine what is work and what is social as its all online.
- They get used for inappropriate communication because again it is less obvious what people are doing online than face to face. In this vein, I have heard of internal communication apps being used for bullying, harassment, dating app, and fomenting dissent, resistance and conflict.
Frankly, the way to avoid both issues is to be clear up front about what appropriate use is and to monitor the “chatter”.
Is 2020 the year to try an internal communication tool in your company?