The importance of internal communication
Internal communication is essential for every organisation,
but very few are able to manage it efficiently, writes Sudipta Dev
is considered a vital tool for binding an organisation, enhancing employee morale,
promoting transparency and reducing attrition. Ironically, while everybody understands
and talks about the significance of internal communication, very few are able
to manage it efficiently. Both the long-term and short-term fallout of ineffective
internal communication can be damaging for an organisation. It can start from
the spread of rumours to disillusionment among employees to a gradual destruction
of the companys brand image. Worse, it may also lead to the slow death
of the organisation.
When Deloitte and Touche Human Capital conducted a survey among American CEOs
who were asked which HR issues are very important to the success of the organisation,
95 percent of them said effective internal communication. Simultaneously,
only 22 percent agreed that they thought it was being delivered effectively.
I agree with the conclusions. In most organisations the quality of communication
is either not effective or is absent. In the IT industry, human issues are even
more important because people are an asset to the organisation; their skill-sets
are the capital, their mindset is the driver, says Sanjay Mandlik, corporate
champion-HR & TQM, Emerson Network Power (India). He strongly believes that
the HR person should be highly qualified in understanding the communication
process, and should champion it with full ownership.
P K Sridharan, president, India operations, Hexaware Technologies, concedes
that there is a gap between desire and action. However in recent times
companies have begun to realise the significance of their internal customers.
But I believe that besides having effective internal communication, it is critical
to have an efficient delivery mechanism. He points out that there have
been several instances in the past where internal communication failed as the
delivery mechanism for it wasnt perfectly oiled.
It is well-known that the root cause of most internal problems being faced by
a company often stems from ineffective communication. Industry standards
like P-CMM in Level 2 include communication as one of the key process areas.
In high-context cultures like India, the delivery of the message is as important
as the message itself. It is therefore necessary to identify the best possible
methods to reach your message to the target audiencein this case, your
employees, explains Sunder Rajan, general manager-HR, Infinite Computer
According to Rajan, the IT sector faces unique issues peculiar
to the nature of the industry. With employees of most IT services companies
spread across geographies onsite, offshore and onshore, internal communication
is a challenge. However, because most IT employees are technology-savvy,
the use of technology can largely address this issue. Intranets, e-mail, e-newsletters
and video conferencing are some tools that can be used effectively to drive
an internal communication programme, he states.
In recent times, companies have begun to realise the significance of
their internal customers
P K Sridharan
President, India Operations
To get the desired result, the credibility of the information source
must be strong
General Manager, HR Icici Infotech
Internal communication ensures that initiatives are implemented and followed
at a local level
Several organisations fail due to ineffective communication even though
they have competent people
Sanjay Mandlik Corporate Champion, HR & TQM Emerson Network Power
Effective internal communication helps the organisation to meet its objectives.
It is the vital link that enjoins everyone to deliver his best. Communication
is not a language, but it involves trust, relationships, control and delegation.
It also creates transparency within the organisation. Many corporates create
their value statements by giving the right space for the communication to convey
the right message to the people, states Mandlik. He says that several
organisations fail due to ineffective communication even though they have some
very competent people.
Notes Sridharan, In recent surveys conducted across
industries, and especially the IT industry, money is a distant second reason
why employees opt to be part of an organisation. The primary reason by far is
a sense of direction clearly communicated by the top management to employees
so that they feel a sense of belonging to and responsibility for the growth
of the company. Successful organisations build this loyalty through effective
internal communication. He affirms that it is also desirable that employees
get to know of company developments before they become public. This helps in
raising the morale and motivation of employees, and thus increases productivity.
Internal communication also helps stimulate much-needed feedback from employees
to top management.
Gauri Deshmukh, head of HR at SAS India, lists the following reasons why internal
communication is so important for an organisation:
- It provides information and encourages sharing by driving
and supporting the organisations short-term and long-term goals and
- It ensures that these initiatives are implemented and
followed at a local level.
- It ensures that knowledge-sharing and communication processes
are part of the daily workflow across all functions of the business.
- It helps drive ownership and shared engagement.
While the ultimate onus of internal communication rests with the HR, it is a
shared responsibility since marketing, public relations, corporate affairs and
others are all involved in the process.
Internal communication should take place as a series of steps
and not as an isolated event. Well-planned and delivered internal communication
can drive the culture in an organisation. The most important thing is the credibility
of an information source. To get the desired result from the audience, the trust
factor must be strong, states Manoj Mandavgane, general manager, HR, ICICI
Infotech. He opines that while formulating internal communication strategy,
the following factors should be taken care of:
- The purpose should be clear.
- The timing and medium are important.
- Language must be used carefully.
- The tools of communication should be effective.
- When people are vulnerable, their tolerance for ambiguity
decreases, so they need to be told clearly to feel secure.
- Communication has to be supported by action.
Ways and means
The channels of communication are intranets, e-mail, newsletters, periodic speeches
by the CEO / managing director, open house sessions, etc. Sridharan asserts
that while formal channels are important, it is imperative to make informal
communication a continuous effort. Many a time our COO will discuss
the latest achievements in Hexaware during lunch in our common canteen. Our
chairman sometimes discusses the path of the organisation while travelling in
the bus with employees for a picnic, he recounts, adding that most of
these informal forums also enable two-way communication, which gives the top
management a fair idea about how the company is perceived among employees.
Apart from the regular initiatives, ICICI Infotech has made its knowledge management
(KM) portal a single window for communication; it includes presentations, information
about new clients, and other company details. There is also an active discussion
board. Anybody who logs into the computer comes to the KM site to mark
his attendance; this might be anywhere in the globe, including the client site,
Those organisations which have understood the significance of internal communication
encourage employee feedback to continuously improve the process. Curbing the
grapevine of misinformation is not easy; it needs constant vigil and continuous
effort to enable best practices in internal communicationsomething that
very few companies are able to do efficiently.
- Spread of misinformation.
- Erosion of employee trust and confidence.
- Conflicts between employees and management.
- Misinformed employees can make wrong decisions.
- Internal brand image suffers.
- Dissatisfaction among employees leads to higher
- Lack of coherent and shared vision.
- Low employee morale results in lower productivity.
- Impact on company's stocks.
- Organisation's external brand value suffers.