Why big companies should communicate like a small business!
Date posted: 18 May 2016 | Posted in: Communication
Big businesses can learn a lot from small businesses when it comes to communication.
Communicating in a small business is easy of course. Small teams, often all based at the same place. The bigger you are, the harder it gets – more complexity, more locations, more people.
That’s why most big businesses have internal communications teams of course -to cut through the complexity, connect the front line to management, and ensure that everyone is involved and engaged on the key issues.
So here are 5 small business communication principles that big businesses could learn from:
Do it face to face
When the MD of a small business wants to communicate something important he or she will gather everyone together and talk it through with them. Big businesses sometimes forget the basic adage that if you want people to really engage you need to talk to them. ‘It’s not practical’, ‘we haven’t got time’ are the excuses. In all our internal communications reviews we almost always find a strong desire for more face to face communication – particularly when it comes to change.
In a small business the MD (because small business leaders are not grand enough to be a CEO!) can easily connect with their team because they are often working closely with them. The bigger your organisation the easier it is for the CEO and senior management team to grow disconnected from their front-line. But employees are always telling us that they want a regular, informal dialogue with their leaders. Not royal visits but meaningful interaction where leaders do as much listening as telling and employees can ask them challenging questions on issues important to them.
A clear story
The bigger and more complex the organisation, the harder it gets to have a clear story on the business – what are we about? This is why a raft of agencies have sprung up specialising in helping big corporates turn their complex strategy into an easy to understand story that every employee can understand. But you don’t need to spend a fortune – internal comms pros should have the capability to ‘translate’ the business strategy into a compelling story and bring it to life through the organisation’s channels.
No corporate speak!
As we all know big corporates seem to have developed a language all of their own – we’ve all smiled at the ‘low hanging fruit’, ‘deep dives’, ‘scope creep’ and ‘boiling the ocean’ (what’s your personal favourite?!) but you won’t hear any of these sayings in a small business. When I launched The Internal Comms Team 12 years ago this was one of the things I wanted to do – help big companies talk to their people adult to adult in the right language, avoiding corporate speak. Twelve years on we are still helping clients with this issue.
Employees having a voice
In a small business everyone’s voice is heard. In a big business, it’s much easier not to be heard and in our internal comms reviews its one of the most common complaints from employees. “We want more opportunities to give feedback, give our views and share our ideas” they say to us. So creating those opportunities is a key challenge for big businesses. Enterprise social media e.g. Yammer is playing a big part in helping to meet this challenge but there are lots of tried and trusted ways to make this happen –not least through face to face.