It was at the recently concluded Malaysia-Korea Business Forum, an event where I was the Master of Ceremonies that this topic popped up.
Just like that – despite it being a business centric event, people couldn’t tear themselves away from the subject of politics.
All it took was one smart alec to say, “If I were a minister, this is what I’ll do…”
He began from the very core of the problem in the government now which somehow got everyone nodding.
Simply put – Our ministers should be more inclusive. They need to stop operating in an exclusive state like they used to when they were in the opposition.
Even though it is expected of any new government, administration and management to bring in their “own people”, it is important for them to be inclusive with the existing team of civil servants – at all levels.
Be more inclusive
They should work together and not work in isolation.
Be good and clear communicators of their policies to every member of the government and Malaysians, overall.
Communications agency Citrine One recently conducted a survey independently and the results showed Malaysians felt that the ministers lacked a clear and consistent communication strategy despite also recognising that some ministers were good communicators.
Words that most come to mind about the Pakatan Harapan ministers’ communication strategy include “inconsistent”, “confusing” and “U-turns”.
If this isn’t a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.
Their intention may be great and so are their strategies but if they are not communicated well, it’s just as good as bad.
Higher standards please
Take for example the Ministry of Finance. Can you for a moment stop to imagine how big it is and if our ministers are not inclusive, they will be scrutinized for their lack of communication skills.
We are speaking of high standards which were demanded during the previous government hence, this is what we expect now.
Are our ministers really ready when they announce something?
First rule of the game: don’t announce something if you’re not ready! You are only asking for trouble!
Dos and don’ts to become an outstanding communicator
- Understand how the ministry actually operates: its protocols, process of documentation and standard operating procedures.
- Don’t change if the policies are working well and improvise those that are slacking.
- SPEAK to the heads of departments.
- Train spokespersons to represent you in the event you are unavailable.
- Set timelines for policy announcements: only when all facts and figures and mechanisms are good to go.
- Have a crisis management plan: the standard operating procedure for this includes appointing a spokesperson and the process for final approval.
- Effective internal communication: ensure ministry’s staff are well informed of all policies especially prior to announcing them to the public.
It doesn’t have to be a “lonely at the top” experience.
The minister’s right-hand people (personal assistants and press secretaries should be well trained to communicate well and adhere to protocol) as they represent the minister.
Internal communications in private companies
Want to drive sales? Enhance customer focus? Innovate? All of these strategic business imperatives depend on the way employees connect, communicate and collaborate.
Communication is a global obsession
Meantime, the rise of social media has made communication something of a global obsession.
According to HRZone, what’s perhaps not so apparent is the growth of internal communication – the discipline whereby employers, employees and colleagues share information and talk to each other.
Effective communication is vital to ensuring that there is mutual understanding between management and staff.
Company strategies and goals should be explained so that people can align their individual objectives accordingly.
Effective communication is when a clear message is delivered through the appropriate channels and tailored to the audience.
In a company, this should result in employees knowing how their own work contributes to achieving the company goals, which helps keep people motivated and engaged.
Internal communication has been growing steadily in importance and sophistication, embracing the latest technologies, publishing trends and thinking around face to face communication.
But it walks a fine line – unadulterated honesty in hard times can lead to lower morale, whereas company spin and top down communication – where employees are communicated at, not with – often leads to cynicism.
In short, poor internal communication can be extremely damaging, particularly when the main objective for the discipline is employee engagement.
Engaging employees through internal communication is about leaving the member of staff informed, educated and/or inspired.
Why is it so important to engage employees?
An engaged workforce feels valued involved and that they genuinely matter.
Higher levels of engagement improve morale, boost productivity and lead to a better working environment in general.
Effective communications ensure that employees fully understand the company, its values and purposes, what is expected of them to achieve the company goals and how to fully engage with their own roles.
In short, there are benefits for employees and employers.
But how do you deliver and sustain great internal communication? The key is to research the audience (the employees), listen to what they say, tailor the communication, tone of voice and medium to their needs.
Good internal communication includes:
- Open and objective communication
- Clear, jargon-free, succinct language
- Consistent and regular communication
- Two-way dialogue
- Understanding the audience and what appeals to them
- Using good verbal, non-verbal and written communicators
- A communication identity that people recognise and use
- An accessible medium.
Juniors/ front liners should be the most informed as they are your ambassadors
It is also important to define your key audience.
As a general rule of thumb, senior managers and directors have the greatest access to company information and the clearest understanding of the direction and strategy.
Middle managers tend to, but don’t always, have this information cascaded down to them by those senior people.
Whereas junior or frontline employees have the least access to information, despite the fact that they are often the most important audience to reach, as they are at the ‘coalface’, interacting with customers, delivering services and so on.
They should be the ambassadors for your business, but they will not attain this status unless they are communicated with in a regular, meaningful way that allows them to voice their views.
The issue that faces many internal communications professionals is getting senior management to buy in to communication that is relevant to our frontline audience.
There’s no point spending thousands on all singing, all dancing e-comms if the vast majority of your staff are out in the field, with little or no access to technology.
The power of communication lies in keeping your audience involved in its
For more on internal communication and other training modules, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile: 0193453213 and we will get right back to you.