One of the many challenges businesses face today more than ever is connecting with their audiences, whether it's their customers or employees.
What may be a significant policy update that can lead to positive change, if delivered in the wrong tone or framed in the wrong way, could end up being received poorly by the team.
When team members fail to understand and see the value behind the company’s message, this can lead to disengagement which can wreak havoc on team dynamics.
In a report by IBM, eight out of ten employees felt more engaged when their work was consistent with their core organisational values and message.
A report by GloboForce also reveals that 36% of businesses see engagement as their number one challenge.
The need to establish an engaging workplace through better internal communications is crucial to organisational success.
It’s All About Telling the Right Story
So what does it take to get your employees to understand your message? How do you get your team to be as passionate and excited when internal communications are announced throughout the organisation?
Sometimes, no matter how well-crafted the message is, not everyone will react the same way or fully grasp the why behind your message.
Part of the problem is the manner in which messages are conveyed in business. It is often fairly common for business leaders to lose the human touch in how they communicate.
Oftentimes, it is exactly their many years in business that desensitises how they communicate to their teams — citing only numbers, figures, and statistics.
And although using data is essential to validate the information you’re presenting, people cannot fully relate to it as much as real stories do.
When we turn to corporate jargon, we lose that connection; we subconsciously disengage from our team and make them feel more isolated.
What Internal Comms Strategy Works Best?
An effective internal comms strategy not only ensures you get the right message across, it can help nurture relationships and develop a community built on trust within the organisation.
Here’s how you can use storytelling in your internal communications strategy:
1. Understand the purpose behind the message. To communicate your message effectively, you need to have a clear understanding of what the message is about and how this impacts your organisational goals. What is the purpose, and how does this bring value to your organisation?
2. Be relatable. Avoid using jargon. Speak in a language that your employees will understand. Rather than saying, “We need to optimise the use of our resources for maximum environmental efficiency”, why not simply say, “We need to save on costs while at the same time be more environment friendly, so let’s try to go paperless as much as possible!”
3. Personalise your message through stories. Recognise that people relate and respond best to stories. The best way to ensure effective communication is engaging your audience.
People are more likely to remember and learn when an activity is done in an engaging way — and the same goes for how you communicate. Rather than just consuming information, using storytelling to deliver your message helps your audience experience the information themselves.
In telling the story, it is important to
- State the problem — What issues have you identified?
- Elaborate on your journey — How did you come to find the right solution?
- What is the solution, and how will this solve the problem?
4. Get real and authentic. The key to establishing trust is being real and authentic. You are speaking to smart and intelligent people who are no strangers to the state of your company affairs and are often privy to the latest news and updates.
By keeping it real and honest, you promote transparency in your organisation, which goes a long way towards building trust.
5. Make the content short and engaging. Keep your messages short and interesting. For maximum impact, make sure you have one key takeaway in all your internal comms to increase the effectiveness of uptaking.
Businesses need to have more fun with how content is presented and find more creative ways to engage with employees and customers.
Some brands sound way too serious and bland in how they communicate, trying to be politically correct, and end up losing both attention and engagement with people.
In order for communications to cut through the noise, note that you need to make the viewer feel something.
Case Study: AGL Energy
A great example of all these points at work was AGL Energy’s communications strategy to build Information Security awareness.
The company needed to introduce a new Information Security protocol to staff members, but since information security was somewhat of a dry topic among staff, they decided to introduce these changes through a series of engaging animated videos depicting the IT security key messages as relatable folk tales.
Each one of these were showcased in easy-to-understand and memorable video stories that highlighted the company’s information security points in great detail, getting their message across seamlessly.
Many organisations are all about celebrating their successes and sharing their wins. But in today’s VUCA environment, keeping your team members in the loop with your challenges and failures helps you reiterate on the same goals and even promotes feedback and collaboration.
Doing this also helps build an emotional connection with your team, promotes the group spirit, and gives you the opportunity to make them feel as if they belong to an organisation that is resilient enough to overcome whatever setbacks may come your way.
A successful internal communications strategy not only leads to better employee engagement, it promotes a better understanding of your company’s goals and values and helps guide everyone in your team towards the same direction.
Editor's note: This blog post was republished with new data.