Five requirements for a powerful internal communication
Everything starts with Abraham Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs. He was the first scientist to clearly map out the hierarchy of man’s innate needs. It is important for companies to efficiently translate these needs into the company’s context.
Our biological needs are the basis of Maslow’s model. On the work floor: most of all, employees want to know if and how your company will continue to function in times of crisis and which impact the crisis will have on the practical interpretation of their work. You can’t be clear enough about that. But also being creative: an (animation) film on social media has a different tone of voice than a dry explanation by mail.
One step higher in the pyramid stands our urge for certainty. Nothing is as stressful as a boss who keeps you in the dark about business results and job security. Prevention (pro-active communication) is better than cure (only responding to questions from your staff). As a manager, start with the concerns of your employees. To find these out, there are a lot of possibilities: a work group, a staff survey, or a recurring question-and-answer moment.
Enter the middle manager
A third layer in the pyramid: we all want to be part of a larger whole. Specifically: how do you get the best out of your team and motivate each individual in the best possible way? The middle managers are crucial in this. They are closest to the people on the floor and are the appropriate intermediate level to easily convey transformations from the top to the employees.
Pat on the back
Appreciation is human need number four. How can you put your people’s work in the spotlight? Many companies did this during the lockdown through their own channels, as our own research revealed, or via a video message from the CEO.
Purpose, purpose, purpose
Finally, an important tip: communicate about the “why” of your company. People need a goal to fully develop themselves. Motivation guru Simon Sinek is very clear about it in a TED Talk: it’s not so much about what you make, or what services you provide, as it is about why you do it. What do you contribute to society and what role do you fulfill in that society? The buzzword ‘purpose’ is becoming a permanent fixture in our economy.
Only if you respond to the natural needs of your employees and convince them of your philosophy, will they all pull together. In good and – definitely! – in bad days.