Are You Talking Enough?
No matter how much time you put into your business, you’re not always going to be able to know what’s going on in every single part of the company at any given time. It’s far easier to miss important events than we want to admit to ourselves, especially when companies start to scale.
In other words, if you want to be truly aware of the important things happening throughout your business, you can’t just be looking down: you need a fully thought-out way to communicate internally.
This blog is all about internal communication – why it’s more important than you might think, how to get started, and where most entrepreneurs go wrong.
What You Need to Talk About
While the importance of internal communication may be straightforward, the best way to keep things on track isn’t as clear. Given the difficulties of coordinating large-scale meetings, it’s often tempting to handle meetings on a department-by-department basis.
Talking to key employees separately may help you understand more about what’s going on across your business, but it’s going to leave everyone else in the dark. Instead of handling things on a one-to-one basis, it’s virtually always worth taking the time to organize cross-company same-page meetings.
By talking through issues, developments and overall company progress with everyone at the same time, you’re ensuring that everyone has a solid understanding of what’s taking place – and their role in it.
However, that’s not to say that same-page meetings are always as simple as they sound.
Running Useful Meetings
For many, the idea of a compulsory, full-company meeting is something to run from. Many workers have gotten so used to badly-run, time-wasting meetings that they automatically disregard any kind of company-wide coordination.
You need to break this pattern. When properly organized, meetings should be some of the most productive hours for you and your employees. It’s all about the approach you take. No one wants to attend a meeting where their manager just talks down to them the entire time – that’s a lecture, not a productive discussion.
Every employee you invite to a key meeting should have some important information to discuss, and should be able to contribute to the meeting in some way. If not, then there’s no reason for them to be on the call – it’s not a good use of their time, and it’s going to frustrate them instead of benefiting your business. Give them a summary, rather than having them sit through the whole meeting.
The meetings should be flexibly structured, having a clearly-structured agenda while still offering room for digression and expansion on key topics. Start with a progress update on individual metrics and rocks, noting any points requiring further discussion.
From there, discuss key headlines for major projects – what has happened in the last week that everyone should be aware of? Your staff should be contributing here – what have they been working on, what milestones have been hit, and what are they waiting on from other team members?
Once everyone’s up to speed with business-wide achievements and progress, return to your notes – what points still need to be discussed in the meeting? Does a project issue require attention from several team members? Do you need to make your team aware of a large-scale plan you’re working on? Having a set, mandatory company meeting timeslot booked often makes overcoming these issues far simpler than requiring everyone to individually connect.
Most importantly – set a strict time limit. Sprawling, unplanned meetings don’t benefit anyone. There’s a reason why Harvard Business Review found that 71% of senior managers considered meetings ‘unproductive and inefficient‘. By setting a time limit, keeping to an agenda, and committing to providing a space for genuinely useful discussion, company-wide meetings can become one of the most productive parts of everyone’s work week.
Time for an outside perspective on your communication? Get in touch with the Shockwave team today to book your free consultation!