The Top 5 Internal Communication Tools We Couldn't Live Without

Matt Dressel
November 30, 2023

We're passionate about making internal communication effortless within our organization and yours too! In today's blog, we're going to show you the top five communication tools we use every single day and why we love them.

Introduction

Reading blogs and watching videos can give you ideas and perspective on how to communicate better, but every business is different. You simply aren't going to get an X step process. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, I'm going to share what we do at Bulb. We are experts at internal communication, but what we do isn't perfect and won't work for everyone. What is important is that it works for us and we are always looking for ways to improve.

1. SharePoint (The Wire)

SharePoint is the core of our communication tools. We have built our company intranet on this platform, which we have branded The Wire. This is where we expect every employee to look for information first if they need something. If you aren't sure what an intranet is check out our podcast on the topic.

Our Approach

Any communication that could be useful later is put on The Wire:

  • Pizza party happening September 15th
  • Summary of the Q1 update
  • Benefits will be changing next year

Individual news articles reference resources that live on The Wire:

  • Benefits
  • What we do
  • Playbooks
  • Resources

We have a team of two people who generally manage most posts and they spend less than an hour a week on posts and many weeks there isn't any time spent on it. We also meet once a month to talk about what is going on with The Wire and once a quarter we do an employee spotlight that provides information about a selected employee (it's written by them).

How We Feel About This

We love this. It takes time to set up initially and you need to be intentional with its use. The value you get for that effort is tremendous. When new employees start working for us, they comment just how easy it is to figure out who we are and where they fit. The point at The Wire and the access to that information as the key factor in making that easier.

For full transparency, there are things we still want to improve. One that we discussed in our last meeting is how to better communicate information about company outings. We do one a quarter and send out a notification months in advance with all of the details. It never fails that a few days before people are asking for the details in Slack and we have to point them back to the news post. To help with this, we will add another integration to automatically post reminders in Slack with the details 1 week in advance.

2. Slack

I am going to keep this brief as we have done a whole podcast on this subject πŸ™‚. We use Slack to augment the formal communication that happens in SharePoint. It's where less formal communications or clarification/discussions about what is going on happen.

Our Approach

  • All communication messages happen in a few public channels.
  • We use threads wherever possible instead of having a discussion in the main channel.
  • We provide training to every new employee on what the "standard" channels are and basic Slack etiquette.
  • Any formal announcement is written in SharePoint and Slack will just have a short "announcement" post that links back to the SharePoint site.
  • Informal announcements like "the power is out at the office so don't come in" happens in Slack only.

How We Feel About This

For communication Slack is more than adequate. If you have read my Internal Collaboration blog on this topic, you will know that I feel a bit differently about collaboration. Simply put, communication just doesn't have the same need for all of the integration and features for collaboration. At the same time, Teams is also more than capable of handling these as well.

3. Stand-Up Meetings

Three times a week we meet with everyone in a quick update format. These meetings started during COVID but they have sustained.

Our Approach

Monday's meeting has a pretty set agenda:

  • Individual updates (weekend then what you are doing this week)
  • Sales updates
  • Marketing updates
  • Office updates

Wednesday and Friday are just individual updates:

  • They are scheduled for 30 minutes but we aren't always good about time boxing that.

How We Feel About This

We like the community and connectedness this builds. We struggle with balancing the chit-chat vs time commitment. We are getting better at focus in this meeting. We also aren't sure what we are going to do if we double in size.

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4. Quarterly Updates and Retros

Once a quarter we have two company-wide meetings. The first is a meeting where the leadership recaps what has happened in the last quarter and provides direction for what we expect for the next quarter. The other is a form of SCRUM retrospective. We use a sailboat exercise to get everyone's perspective on how things are going.

Our Approach

  • Not everyone has to be in person. It is more fun when everyone is together but if someone can't make it we are fine.
  • We record the meeting so people can view it afterwards.
  • We post the information and results to The Wire so anyone can find them in the future.
  • Everyone has an opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions. Our goal is to make sure everyone is on the same page not just talk at people.
  • The outcome from these meetings become goals that everyone in our company is working toward for the next quarter.

How We Feel About This

These meetings are critical to our business and the unity we built in the organization. With that said, it isn't perfect and they have changed a number of times since we started. We're going to make more changes in the future. Probably the biggest one I can think of is the challenges with doing a retrospective after the leadership team has provided direction. Sometimes the retrospective needs to feed into this which is a bit of a chicken/egg situation. We have made some changes to help with this and I am sure we will make more.

5. Bulletin Board (Fridge)

We don't really have a bulletin board. We do have a fridge that is visible throughout our open office. I could see us getting something else eventually, maybe a second fridge πŸ™‚

Our Approach

  • We post all of our goals on the fridge so everyone can see them.
  • We also keep some other targets like number of subscriber, impact, and successes there as well!

How We Feel About This

It’s pretty new for us to do this regularly. It started with some things that were put on sticky notes on the side of fridge. Now they are fancy printed pages on the front πŸ™‚

Things We're Still Looking For

While we have a bunch of tools we are using and like, there are a number of things we wish we had better tools for.

  • Calendar: We use the event list and group calendar tools but they just aren't good enough.

Conclusion

Hopefully what we have shared gives you some insights on how we are working and can help you in your own journey to a modern workplace.

Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways we can help you:
  1. Internal Communication Guidebook: Empower leadership with expert strategies and practical tools. This guidebook facilitates clear communication, informed decisions, and effective organizational change.
  2. Join Our Membership Community: Join leaders and tech innovators on a journey to transform their workplace.
  3. Project-Based Services: Engage a dedicated team on a project basis to drive impactful outcomes and achieve your business goals.

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