Few things can stunt the growth of an organization more than a lack of healthy communication. This is especially true in IT departments, where open lines of communication and transparency are paramount to efficiency and output. With that being said, have you considered the topic of internal communications and how you can improve in this area this year?
Prioritizing better internal communications
I’ve worked for a number of different companies in my career and have been exposed to a variety of different workplace styles. I’ve been in large organizations where it’s not uncommon to walk into the cafeteria and hardly recognize any of the faces in the room. I’ve also been a part of small businesses where the team consists of just a handful of people who have been together for a number of years.
What I’ve learned is that internal communications doesn’t have anything to do with size. That’s a misconception that a lot of people have. From my experience, communication was much better in the larger organization I was at than it was in the smaller one, at least in my opinion.
So if the size of the company – or the IT department – doesn’t matter, what does? It all comes down to strategy. If your organization doesn’t make internal communications and open collaboration strategic priorities, then it will fail to reap the rewards associated with these healthy pursuits.
When communication is prioritized within the IT department, everything changes. With one company I worked for years ago, I noticed that the simple act of having a 10-minute morning “powwow” had the benefit of setting the tone for the day. Instead of spending the first couple of hours wandering around and trying to figure out what to do, everyone – myself included – had a clear picture of what we were supposed to be doing.
Another company I recently consulted with was having trouble with work orders. One of the IT guys would see a work order in the system, respond to it, and then find out that it had already been completed by someone else. This sort of inefficiency was killing the department’s productivity. I suggested that they utilize a a system that gives everyone real-time access to work order progress. As soon as they switched, they saw a huge boost in productivity. But on an even more practical level, there was less frustration in the department, and everyone was much happier. In the months since, this satisfaction has led to better overall performance.
Actionable ways to emphasize communication
When it comes to communication in the IT department, you need to approach this challenge from all angles. That means implementing techniques, testing them, and sticking with the ones that work. With that being said, here are a few ideas.
- Use the right tools and apps. In today’s business landscape, there’s no excuse for not using some of the numerous tools and resources you have at your disposal. From helpful tools like Slack and DialMyCalls to HipChat and Skype, there are many communication apps designed for the sole purpose of improving internal communications. Identify the ones that can positively impact your business, and proceed from there.
- Create an open-door policy. Anyone who’s in a position of leadership within your IT department should be encouraged to have an open-door policy. With an open-door policy, you’re able to show employees that their opinions matter and engage them in effective ways. Two-way feedback is always better than a one-way chain of command. Maintaining an open-door policy is just one way of proving this.
- Develop KPIs to evaluate results. How will you know if your efforts to improve internal communications are going well? While you can get some direct feedback from employees, this isn’t always the most quantifiable data. What you really need to do is establish some key performance indicators (KPIs) and track them. This gives you concrete numbers to rely on, and you can gauge long-term performance.
Never settle for average
You may assume that internal communications is all about talking, but this isn’t true. We did a lot of talking, storytelling, and joking in the small business I worked for. However, there simply wasn’t any healthy form of communication that allowed us to do our work better. The fact that we were comfortable being around each other masked this issue.
You may feel as if your IT department’s communication is fine, but fine doesn’t cut it. You must resolve to be better than average and recognize the supreme importance of seamless internal communications.
Anna Johannson, Writer
[ISACA Now Blog]