EP 021

Improve the Way Your Organization Communicates

It's time to end the difficult cycle of rumor mills, lost documents, misread messages, and other internal communication mishaps. In episode 21 of the Make Others Successful podcast, we unpack how to improve internal communication within your workplace.

From new mindset adoption to actionable steps you can take today, we're here to help make internal communication effortless and stress free!

Hosted By
Mitch Herrema
Livvy Feldman
Matt Dressel
Emma Allport, CSM
Produced By
Benjamin Eizenga
Edited By
Eric Veeneman
Music By
Eric Veeneman

Transcript

Mitch: [00:00:00] Everyone, welcome back to Make Others Successful. A podcast where we share insights, stories, and strategies to help you build a better workplace and help make others successful. Today we're taking another step down our journey of defining these focus areas in the the product that we're developing.

Another kind of behind the scenes glimpse into building that the topic is internal communication. And so we wanna talk through how we imagine companies should communicate internally and how that news should, should transfer to each other. We'll talk about kind of the mindset around that, as well as some principles that you can stand by.

And then how should you prep your technology for this, and how should you get ready for this kind of transition or effort? And then lastly, some kind of how-tos or frequent issues that we see with internal communication. So before we go into it, I just wanna say it's [00:01:00] been fun to see as these areas have gotten fleshed out, how it's actually kind of backing us in at bulb into like kind of a different framing for how we do what we do.

It's something that kind of transcends the, the whole. Like, it's more than just a product that we're building. It's something that is gonna really inform how we work with clients and how we yeah. Help people improve their workplace. Mm-hmm. So I'll hand it off to Livy to kind of tee up the conversation.

Livvy: Yeah. Well, internal communication, pretty broad topic, and I think it's one of those topics that kind of gets put to the side as well. Of course, I know how to internally communicate with my. Coworkers, my employees. But how do you, you or Matt, Emma, how would you define what successful internal communication really means within the workplace?

Matt: Yeah, so communication, this, like defining it the way that we've [00:02:00] defined it, it's something that we use often, but I don't know that a lot of other people, unless you're in a, , A very large organization that actually has an internal communications team. , lots of organizations have a marketing team, but the marketing team is usually external.

Internal communication, , as you def you just described it, most people probably go, I don't know how to send an email to the, to everybody in the company. Right? That's the type of communication, the, the content of the communication we're talking about. But that is an example of how we wouldn't recommend communicating.

Right. So when we talk about it, we're talking about. Content that would go from a small group within your, your organization to a very large group in your organization. And it's not meant for discussion, right? Mm-hmm. There might be discussion about it, but you're not soliciting feedback from somebody.

Usually you're saying, Hey, we had, we've we're moving in this direction. We're we had this event happen. , we had , an important piece of information we want to provide to a large group of people. That's largely the things that [00:03:00] we're talking about. The content. And when we talk about it, we're always talking about it in trying to improve the tools and methodologies and way people, th the way people think about how they communicate with that.

Because just like I said, unless you're a very small organization, sending an email to, , all company staff is not super effective. And it's actually one of the biggest things we've, we hear from leadership is, , It'll be manifested in lots of ways. We have a rumor mill going on within our organization, and that trumps what we say.

Or we say stuff, but nobody's listening. Like I, I say something and then, , I talk to someone, , who's, , maybe three levels removed from me and they didn't even know that I said what I said. Mm-hmm. Right. Or they say, , we're spending all of this time and money on in-person meetings and it's, it's, it's challenging because we can only cover a certain amount of stuff there.

, and it's very expensive, right. For the type of, for some of the things we're communicating, it doesn't, shouldn't warrant that much [00:04:00] expense. Right. So we're, that's what we're talking about. We're talking about from our perspective, the content is small group of people communicating to a large group of people, but then we're focused mostly on.

How to do that. Mm-hmm. The how of  

Emma: that? I think from one thing I pulled out there is defining communication versus dialogue, so, mm-hmm. You mentioned there may be dialogue or conversation about what's communicated, but it's not necessarily meant to be what, what we're talking about as topic wise today.

It's not necessarily just about. Employee to employee dialogue. We're talking about when you're trying to get a message across to your entire company, what's the an effective way to do that? Yeah, right.  

Matt: Drawing the  

Mitch: line between last time we talked about internal collaboration and communication, they're like, they kind of intertwine.

There's, they, they connect a little bit, but we're trying to draw a line that's a little  

Matt: bit different. Mm-hmm. Yeah. When you talk, when you talk if you're taking a communication course, right. They don't make a lot of distinction between these. Right. It's like, I. [00:05:00] How to effectively, personally get my point across to a person or a, it's more about the content and we'd make that delineation because in collaboration I have, I'm working with someone on a shared work outcome, right?

Like we have to, we are, communication is focused on creating something. In this case, it's getting alignment. It's, mm-hmm. It's saying, I'm, I'm the management, I'm in charge. I'm, I have some control over what we're trying to do. I'm trying, trying to provide vision and guidance and all of these things, or I'm trying to provide information that is important to do your job.

How do I do that in an effective way?  

Emma: Yeah, and you're hitting on the, the super key thing, which I hope we will dive in deeper here, but there are a lot of ways to do this. Yep. What we're gonna talk about is what's the most effective and efficient way so that it frees up time and you're also ensuring that the message is received so you don't have to say it again or a third time or a fourth time.

And [00:06:00] so really we're gonna give best practices for, we're not gonna deny, there's a lot of ways to communicate. What we're gonna try to do is outline. What are the most effective and efficient, I like the word effortless. You want your communication to be effortless, so it doesn't feel like you're making it harder than it needs to be.

Livvy: Yep. Well, that kind of puts us into one of our principles that we're gonna talk about is effective communication is kind of the foundation of a healthy business. So I like what you said effortless. Mm-hmm. How does effortless equate to having a healthier business, healthier communication internally within a business?

Emma: Yeah, I mean, I, I think what it comes down to is the leaders feeling like they have a vehicle to get their message across and that it, that it's received and that they don't feel like, like I just said, they either have to repeat themselves or they feel like it's actually resonating. And, and there is some type of feedback loop where they're, they're able to know that people are understanding the, the message.[00:07:00]  

The word effortless. I feel like it's such a good one to use because it's something that you are going to wanna be able to use, that communicating, something you're gonna wanna be able to use that will scale with your business. So no matter how many more people you have joining, it's not like you have to change everything and, and the entire process of which you communicate.

So that also adds to that effortless piece because it's something that could grow  

Matt: with your business. I think the thing I would say is that the. Effortlessness needs to come from both sides. It should be effortless for the person who needs to send these things out to do it. Like it should be like a no-brainer.

Like, okay, this makes sense. It fits into what I'm doing. It's, it's not super complex or super hard for me to do. But then also on the receiving end, they should be. Able to consume that content and find that content when they need that content. Yes. And it should be open to them and, and, and available to them.

, the email the email thing I mentioned before, right? Like, it may be really effortless for a leader to be like, I'm an email all day long. I know what I'm doing. I'm just gonna draft an [00:08:00] email, sit, send. It's easy. I did it right. But. That's not easy for everyone else to be able to discover, discover, find it, be able to read it, consume it in a, in a way that is meaningful to them.

, it's not being successful, it's not effortless,  

Emma: as you said. Right, right. And the super key there is, well, you may think everyone's getting that email, , who's actually managing that email list, who's actually, this depends on the size of your company, but. It may not actually be as easy as  

Matt: you think it is, and why that's important.

Like back to the, like, the mindset. Mm-hmm. , there is a lot of, there are a lot of studies that have been done that really talk to the benefits that companies can achieve from being on the same page. And really a lot of it is all about it's a culture thing and it's alignment thing.

, it's about, Being effective, right? So if everybody's in alignment, everybody knows what you're trying to do, they can make the decisions that they need [00:09:00] to in their job that align with that outcome, right? Mm-hmm. If they if they're all on the same page about what's happening and what they need to do when a change happens, , maybe this communication is about.

, we're changing over systems and this is when it's happening, right? Mm-hmm. If they can do that, they aren't, they aren't caught off guard, right? Like, they didn't, they didn't Right. , didn't realize that it was happening and they had some important thing that needed to hap have happen, but they weren't ready for it, right?

Yeah. , it's, it can it can manifest, manifest itself in a lot of different ways. The culture piece of it, , when you talk about culture, If you're effectively communicating and you're able to. Have, spend more time on talking about the culture, now you can start to build better, a better culture.

Right? You don't necessarily have to do a lot of other things to be building that, that culture. Whereas before maybe you didn't have the time to do that, or you didn't feel like you could produce content that was a, a culture based [00:10:00] because it would distract from these other communications.

Mm-hmm. But being more effective with those other communications allows you to do that. Right. Right. So, yeah, I think it's, it is a being able to effectively communicate with an organization is key to being healthy.  

Emma: So quick story time on what you're talking about, Matt. Not to dip too much into the content side, but an example of working for a large organization that was based out of New York, but had locations in Arizona and Florida and all over the United States, but.

They had three locations in Arizona and you talked about rumor mills. And it was a situation in which some employees had started to hear that one team was gonna get moved from one location to another location. Mm-hmm. And it became an incredible internal mess because now everyone was talking about it.

It was very clear that it was, Circulating around and there was no place to go to get information as an employee. And it really spiraled outta control to the point that it ended up not even being a real thing. No one was actually gonna be [00:11:00] moving departments Yeah. From a, a location to location, but I believe there were some employees who were considering quitting because it was going to be such a long commute.

Yeah. And , as, as silly as that sounds, this was a few years ago now in the, the age of remote work. Where a location is could make a huge impact. Mm-hmm. And if you're not communicating that well with your employees or, or they don't feel like they're connected or have any information on what could be potentially happening, it could lead people to leave.

You  

Matt: know? So, or being able to say, or being able to say, I, somebody is talking about that. I learned about it. I'm gonna send out a communication that clarifies this. Right. Like Right, right. Finalize, like this is the definitive word. Mm-hmm. , leadership can feel not. Equipped with the tools to quash those rumors in a way Right.

That con that that gets to everyone, right? Yes. And is, and is heard by everyone, or that they have a way for those employees to, , raise that up and effectively disseminate that information. Yeah, a hundred  

Emma: percent. So that just [00:12:00] sort of a story of how a rumor mill can eventually kind of spin outta control and could actually really affect the team, or if those employees remain at the company or not.

Yep. Yeah.  

Livvy: I think that's a really good testament to, for someone who is listening to this podcast right now, is you think, oh yeah, like internal communication, duh. But Right, right. How many times I'm sure someone's like, oh my gosh, rumor mills, that happens all the time in my organization. Or I don't even know where to find the final piece of information in the official spot for it.

Emma: And, and do managers or leaders feel equipped like they have the tools and the pathways are in place in an effortless way so they don't have to recreate everything. When something like that sort of starts, are they able to communicate well and kind of stop it in its tracks before it spirals outta control?

Right.  

Livvy: Now people listening, they're probably like the wheels are turning. And to kind of wrap up our mindset section of this [00:13:00] is two things tend to happen is they either wanna implement perfect and effortless internal communication overnight, which we know that's one of our mindsets. Like that's not gonna happen, or in their head.

Someone may think I know the best way to internally communicate this is what works for me. But really we're trying to shift that mindset to what actually works for everyone and what's most effective for everyone. Yep. And what's kind of the first step with like adopting and accepting those two frames?

Realities, yeah. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.  

Matt: I think there's two pieces that I would wanna highlight. Number one it is, , it is true, a lot of this stuff is really a mindset thing, right? Like, Having an eye towards this because it's gonna take time, like changing the habit of doing communication that you've done for 20 years the same way and choosing to do a different thing.

It's a habit, right? Both for leadership and for employees, right? If employees have the habit of saying, My only, the only [00:14:00] trusted source I have is my manager. So I'm always gonna ask my manager, or my only trusted source is hr, so I'm gonna always ask HR a person. Mm-hmm. We talk a lot about knowing who to ask versus where to go.

, it's going to take a long time for those habits to change, and the only way to make those habits change is to try to continue to be consistent. So consistency in, , Checking yourself in regards to, , how, what has been working what do we wanna continue to do, what hasn't been working, and what should we try to make that, make that make work, right?

So the, so it's all about allowing yourself to recognize it's not gonna ha change overnight. And that's okay. And that happens everywhere. And it may take years to get to really where you want to be, the, the end goal, but knowing that that's okay, right? And then the other piece of it is, Not everything works the same for everyone, right?

Mm. You have organizations that are, have, , 80 to 90% of their workforce are office staff and they're [00:15:00] at a computer every day and they're, they can use certain technologies very well. You have other, other, other companies that have potentially staff that are always on site doing something, right?

Things are gonna work differently for different people, technology. Isn't gonna work for everyone all the time the same way every time. Just because it works really well for one company doesn't mean the exact same thing will work for you. The things we want you to remember are that technology is changing tremendously in this area.

It has been changing tremendously in this area over the last, I would say, 15, 20 years. It's going to continue. Continue to look at what's best for you and your organization and the way that you communicate. Right? , if you have a workforce that is constantly remote and disconnected and in places that doesn't have internet come up with a different way than, , using, , some organizations might say an intranet is my solution.

I'm gonna do an [00:16:00] intranet. That's great. That's awesome. And that might work for some part of it, but because of the remote nature of your employees, you may need to institute other procedures that would help in addition to that, right? Mm-hmm. Because of the way you, w way your workforce is, and it's just the way it is, and that's okay.

Yeah. There isn't a one size fits all. There isn't a, this works. , you all, this isn't cookie cutter. There's probably 50 or 60% of it that is like, yeah, these are like no-brainers. Everybody should do it no matter what. But then there's the 40% that the, , 30% that is like, yeah, work. Do what works for you.

I think  

Emma: we've worked with a number of different clients who may have majority of their team members only accessing business through their mobile device. Mm-hmm. So when you think about that and, and you're trying to optimize communication across devices, if that 60% of the people on your team are likely only gonna be reading it from their phone, think about that.

This kind of transition  

Livvy: into principles, and Matt brought it up, is [00:17:00] sending emails and something new that when I started here and now I can't even imagine really going back to internally emailing unless absolutely necessary is we are not big fans of internal email and emailing one another. So this is kind of.

Putting us in our principles, but mm-hmm. Let's start there. Yeah, sure. Why don't  

Matt: we do it? Yeah. So email is an interesting thing. There's reasons to email. I, I would never say, , there may be some shock tags that we put on things like, don't ever email. Again, , it's not, it's, you're not, the truth of the matter is you're going to email.

But if I'm trying to communicate with my entire organization and I'm trying to, let's say I'm launching a new strategy. If I'm sending a, an email with that, It is a waste of time for several reasons. Number one most email that people send and receive that should matter to them the most are emails from external parties.

So there's very, there's, there are ways to [00:18:00] communicate externally with without email. But by and large email is going to be the choice, the choice that you have, that most people have. And it's okay for that. But if I have, Let's say I get 50 emails a day. Most of them are external. Let's say, cuz you're in an ideal world where most of 'em are external, which means they're probably vendors or clients or something that's impacting my business pretty significantly, and I'm sending out one email that is the new vision for something that we're launching at the organization.

It's gonna get lost in those 50 emails. Mm-hmm. Like the chances of me actually spending the time to read that email is pretty low. In addition, I sent that out today. I have two new hires tomorrow. Mm-hmm. How do they have the email? Yeah. That's the growth was how do, how do they, how do they know what's going on?

Right. They have almost, somebody has to forward it to 'em. Yay. So now I have to contact somebody and say, oh, make sure you forward that person this email. Right. It just, it's not, it is not a good way. For the type of [00:19:00] communication that we are talking about. If you think about I, I, a good way that I, I would think about it is very much like newsletters, et cetera, that you re receive marketing emails from us, as an example, third parties, right?

You, it has to be a pretty high bar. For you and you have to like consciously make an effort to go read those things or whoever's doing the marketing has to do a super awesome job of creating content that is like catchy that I'm like, right. Oh, I do wanna read that one. Click that is really valuable to me.

Click. Yeah. I don't wanna have to be doing that with my employees. Click. Like, I don't wanna have to be creating emails that have urgent must read the next  

Mitch: big thing at Ball Digital.  

Matt: Yeah. Like, I don't, that's, it creates a different, a different tone for how, what you have to create. But that's ultimately what you have to do if you're fighting with all of the other emails that are coming from every other person from, , external vendors, external, , partners and internal people who still do email all the time, right?

Mm-hmm. , we work for some customers where, [00:20:00] They have a lot of staff. We, , they have a very large company. We're working with them. There is a number of them who have transitioned their mindset to kind of minimize the email thing. But when you're talking about 60,000 employees, you got a lot of people who are still diehard.

Email is everything. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And , it's a lot like there, there are people who are getting hundreds of emails a day It's very difficult to cut through that noise. Yeah.  

Emma: I have so many thoughts on this. I'm trying to organize where I wanna go with this, but I think the distinction I made at the beginning too, about dialogue versus larger corporate internal communication on a more macro level.

But even when you think about dialogue, when you're thinking about employee to employee, Don't email. That's, yeah, that's just absolutely not the most effective way of communicating between team members or within a, a project space. There are way better ways of doing this, whether it's teams channel messaging, whether it's even direct messaging, whether it's on a Slack [00:21:00] platform.

It's, there's so many tools out there that solve these problems. Better than email. Yep. End sentence period. Yep. You are still internal emailing your coworkers. Just know that there's a way better option out there.  

Livvy: Shameless blog for Emma's blog, I wrote a blog about this and it's really good and it very cleanly details all  

Emma: of those reasons out.

Yeah, and I mean, I'll say this from a very humble place of, I had been internally emailing all of my career until I started working here, and I can speak from experience of. The way we communicate here is 10 times leaps and bounds more efficient and effective and just more enjoyable, honestly, because I feel like I'm on the same page with my coworkers and we can get things done faster.

Matt: There is a, there's a huge I, I think this is another thing as well , The way people think about communicating the content that they put into an email versus Oh yeah. Content they put somewhere else. Completely agree. Which we haven't talked about. Where else? So like but it, the content is different.

It just [00:22:00] the mindset shift of how that works. Mm-hmm. So I, I'm gonna talk a minute about one of the alternatives, so Sure. Like when I was talking about it before in, in regards to the. , there's probably 50, 60% of, of content that's like, everybody should be doing this on intranet. Having a place for you to post content that is news related or in communication related, whether or not it be point in time or whether or not that be.

, bulk content on intranet is something every organization should have in some form or fashion.  

Emma: Right. And an intranet is essentially an internal website, which we have a podcast on. If, if you're curious what it is, but it, it's a hub, right? Or I don't, I don't know if I'm using the correct technical term, but you're,  

Matt: you're your explanation of an internal website is Right?

Like in its most generic form, that's what it is, right? Right. There's a ton of internet platforms that try to make that easier, handle a bunch of other things, but ultimately it is an internal. An internal website, in this case, it's targeted at communication, right? Right. Like [00:23:00] you can have lots of internal websites that are for lots of different things.

An intranet is in the way that oral portal people, different terms. We talk about that a little bit different terms, but like in this case, we're talking about it from a communication perspective. So, that email that you wanna send off, create an a news article that describes in, in, in whatever detail you want about.

What this change is, why you're doing it. Have a link that goes to another part of the intranet that gives, , maybe a bunch more detail and content that is the evergreen content about, , your thought process about this new addition initiative you're doing. And then if you really want to, if you're, you're not advanced, advanced to the point where you're, that's good enough, and eventually they'll get a notification and all of this stuff.

Send an email that says, Hey, launch this thing points and has a link that says, Hey. Mm-hmm. Go check this out for the full infor details, right? Mm-hmm. And that's it, right? , the end pay place that I was talking about is a lot of these platforms have aggregation tools that [00:24:00] will automatically send an email to someone when, Hey, here's a piece of news that you might be interested in, and it's a, just a digest.

They, they call it a digest or an aggregate email that is really just to there to make it so that you don't have to send emails all the time. And so what it turns into is, Once a week, employees are gonna get emails that say, here's some content, here's some news that you may have missed. Mm-hmm. And here's five or six or seven art news articles that.

Or might be important to them. One  

Emma: example I'm thinking of that I feel like will resonate with most of our listeners is, do you have a a monthly staff meeting? Do you have a quarterly company update? Do you have an annual company update? These are very typical things that are sent out in an email form.

Well, okay, you hire someone January 5th, they missed the January 2nd company update. Yeah. Now you're trying to figure out, okay, well who do we need to send this to? Whatever, whatever. We go down the rabbit hole of it. But the other beautiful part about putting something like an annual or quarterly or monthly is [00:25:00] that then you have the history all in one place.

So if someone wants to see what happened last month, well guess what? You can also see what happened the month before and the month before that. And it paints this beautiful picture without actually having to sit down. Not that I don't wanna sit down with someone and tell them the history, but in a way of, , that they may resonate with the content if they had, , they wouldn't have been able to see otherwise unless someone took the time to actually go back through their email and forward them all of it.

Matt: So there's, there's two pieces of that that I think are really, really critical, which is, I've been talking a lot about things that are, , Grandiose like that might happen once a year, once a every five years. Right. If you're really, if you're a organization that, , we are, we know what we're doing.

We have an identity and we're sticking to that. , nothing's really super changed about that in quite some time. And so you might think, great, I have to spend all this money and time on an intranet and like, I'm only gonna use it twice a year. No, exactly what you're talking about, like, There are so many ways that you should be, you can find that this is going to be super valuable.

One is exactly what you're said. You have these things that [00:26:00] happen, , yes, we're not changing our strategy, but we give an update once a quarter. Yeah. Once a month, , whatever that is. That's absolutely one thing. The other piece that you talked about, which is the, his history, the historical aspect of it.

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. , it is life-changing for an employee to be able to join day one and spend. Time in the evening or time, , during the day whenever that is, to go look back and catch up on what's going on. Right? Sure. And something that somebody forgot to mention to them in their orientation.

So, They all of a sudden see it and ask a question about it, and they're more in, in line, more in tune about the thing that happened two weeks ago, two months ago than ever. , you, you could never fill that gap, right, without them choosing to do that. I'll give  

Mitch: a firsthand example. We just hired a videographer, Benjamin here.

He's, he's sitting behind the cameras hiding from us, but. He mess or asked me a while back, he said, oh, I went through the history of this marketing channel that we have where we keep all of [00:27:00] our communication with marketing. He said, I found this video and it talked through some concepts that we wanted to try, and it was a video that I had just like kind of thrown over the fence, wanted to see what people thought.

But he. Went back and found that and kind of like re spun up the idea. Mm-hmm. And now he can take it and, and be in the loop of like where my mind has been before he was here. And now he just like comes alongside and is already. In step  

Emma: with us, which adds value to that communication. Mm-hmm. In a way that if it had been just sent in an email and then sat inactive right in someone's junk or trash or not that someone would junk your email, but, , , it, it, it adds this extra value then for the fact that a new employee and.

I think a lot of companies are in this space where they're trying to grow, they're trying to scale, but when we talk about onboarding, that can feel really intimidating of, well, we don't even have time to hire someone. Mm-hmm. So when we're talking about communication and setting your business up this way, [00:28:00] we're talking about real steps that will make growing easier.

Yeah.  

Livvy: Something I want, you've covered actually a lot of the principles news should be easy to access. Yep. And everyone should know where to find it. Yes. Discoverable. Internal e internal emailing not the most efficient way to communicate and really actually causes a lot more stress. Yep. When you think about it, you dread opening your inbox.

Mm-hmm. And. Why we do it. The one thing I wanna talk about before we wrap our principles up and move into the technology section of this conversation is we've covered a lot of like big company updates, those types of communication. But what about just every day? Yeah. Communicating with one another. Like if I wanted to check in with Emma about like a blog she's writing, what we think about that?

Some people, yeah, they email, but what do we promote when it comes to just the everyday conversation?  

Matt: So the, I, there's several things about what you said specific to what you're talking about right now. Moving in a way [00:29:00] from so when you're talking about communication and you talk about moving away from sending an email to everyone mm-hmm.

One of the biggest things that we talk about would be being able to target that based on the topic and what's important. One of the ways to do that is to create channels for communication. The communication that you're talking about would be largely in teams or in Slack in creating a channel, et cetera, which might be a new way to disseminate an article.

Like maybe you create a news article, but you don't need to send it to everybody, you just wanna send it to them. You could maybe go into the teams chat or, or into the channel and basically at channel post to these people. Mm-hmm. So, but it's really a mind shift from having a conversation that is, you feel is very personal.

Saying No, it's not super personal really, it's really topic based. It's about a project. It's about like in this, in your case, it's a marketing conversation. Right? Right. And having that conversation in the open, in the marketing channel can also help reduce the amount of, of the feeling that I need to communicate in a [00:30:00] certain way about these things.

And it also can foster better collaboration. Right? There's nothing worse than. Having, , let's say that let's say that I'm working on a something that I wanna produce to a lot of people. Having a communication where I am having that all private or maybe just between myself and one other person can create a lot of challenges because you are really controlling the narrative around it.

When if you are all on the same team and you're all pushing to the same mission and you're all in alignment, it shouldn't matter. Yeah. Like none of that, none of those barriers matter. What matters is the message. What matters is the outcome. What matters is the work output that you're creating. The other piece of what you said is an interesting thing, which is about being timely, right?

Yeah. One of the reasons people get frustrated with communication is, so let's take an example where somebody's currently doing a newsletter and that's their main form of, of communication, and they send it out once a month. Some [00:31:00] event happens on, let's say they send it on the last Friday of the month, Tuesday morning, something happens in the organization and I need to communicate that with everyone.

If I have to wait till the end of the month, that's super ineffective. Right? Right. Yeah. So then they go, well, the only way I, so I'll just send an email and now I send an email, but I don't wanna send it to everybody because. That's a lot of pressure. I have to create a big email to everyone. So I sent an email to two people.

Right. Or maybe six people. Right. On the executive team, let's say. So I, cool, I sent that out. Now you're relying on those six people to disseminate that information and we play a game of telephone. Mm-hmm. Between you and everyone else in the organization to, and that's how the rumor mill starts, right?

Right. Like that is how all of that stuff happens. Because I. I didn't feel comfortable sending in the email to everyone. I sent it to a few people and I didn't have a good way to send it to everybody or let them be able to [00:32:00] find it that, , have it in a central source. And even worse, let's say it's a, I have to let everybody know that this happened, but there's gonna be several more days of more info updates.

How does somebody find the most recent information? Because they just see the email that I sent to someone else on day one that sent it to someone else, that send it to some like, What you want is a way back to the what, the principle you want a way, a place where you can send that communication. Point people back at the thing immediately.

I want like, this is an urgent thing. I'm gonna create the news article, I'm gonna create the content. I'm gonna, I'm gonna, , fill it in. I'm gonna send it to those six people. They can send it to other people that point them back to the same thing. They're all looking at the same content. I have an update to that.

Update. That page gets updated. Right? Maybe I update that thing and create a new news article that is the culmination of those things like the ecosystem. It is, it is. There are tools that allow you. To do this and you should be taking advantage of them and you should be thinking about sending news information [00:33:00] in a timely fashion.

Right? Yeah. Like someone's retired, announced, , resigns decide they're retiring, right? Like you wanna get that information out quickly. Mm-hmm. Not necessarily. , wait till the end of the month. Wait till the end of whenever you're, you're doing it today. Before we  

Emma: move on, I wanna touch on something you said in the first part of this answer about dialogue and having conversations quote unquote out in the open.

Yeah. So I love that phrase right, because that, that. Sort of is reminiscent of the time that people were in offices and cubicles. Yeah. And things switched to the, , open office layout and everything. And this is a way to reflect that in on technology and on a platform. So, the feeling when you're in the office and you hear a conversation happening and you find value from overhearing, people have talked about a project, maybe you're working on th this is the way to do it in a remote way in a.

Tech technological way, I don't know what the the word is, but is to have a project or topic based channel or conversation set up on a platform, whether it's in Microsoft, whether it's on [00:34:00] Slack, there's different tools, but this is the way if Olivia's checking in with me on a blog or something like that in our marketing channel, if other people over here that maybe I'm not, not gonna hit a deadline or something, someone else has a chance to then step in and, and help.

With whatever it is on the project, but if we had that conversation, In our own direct message, then other people wouldn't know. It's the same thing in an open office layout. Mm-hmm. So we're, we're just trying to get that feeling of comradery that you do get when you're all in an office together. But brain it on technology.

Livvy: This is sounding a little overwhelming. That's okay. But also we have another podcast where we talk about internal collaboration, episode 20, and that kind of breaks down, I think creating those safe spaces for internal communication spaces that are. Yeah, not necessarily all private conversations, and it kind of like lays the foundation.

So definitely give that one a listen. Yep. But we kind of segued into the technology part of it, which is our last part, and it's creating, not [00:35:00] necessarily an intranet, but a spot where employees can go. Within any spot of your organization, whether you're in office, not in office, doesn't matter where they know they have reliable information and it's accessible and it's easy  

Matt: to get.

Yeah. So I would say if you don't have an intranet, you should 100% investigate what it would take to get one. Yep. There's a number of technologies that can do it. The one that we specialize in is SharePoint in the Microsoft stack. There's a bunch of features that would be important for, for those tools when you look at it.

, and I would say that in addition to that, , teams Slack, , that one-to-one, one-to-many tools is definitely a piece to look at. And the integration between the two, between the intranet and those tools email isn't going away. There's still people who are gonna be using email.

Your focus in regards to email needs to be, how can you best utilize email right. In such a way that you are not putting all of the important information into the emails. If you are still [00:36:00] using email, like, great, I created intranet, but you just take the content from the intranet and copy and paste it into an email and send it to people.

That's not good. You always want to be creating at most small lead in texts with links back to the, your, your, your site, your intranet. Mm-hmm. Four. , understanding who's reading the content, right? Mm-hmm. You made a really important message to send everybody. How do that somebody's, somebody read it, right?

People today, I know some organizations with email are using, , the traditional marketing tools to try to look, look at open, open, open, yeah. Open rates, et cetera, et cetera, but great. Mm-hmm. , they opened it. What does that mean? What did they read? What did they look at? Right? I opened the email, so I make, so it's unread now.

But does that really mean anything? Right. And I opened the email and I have seven topics. Which of those seven topics did I actually view? Right. Right now they're actually dif separate articles. I can know which one of those things people engaged with and looked at.  

Emma: Right. I was gonna say, my hot take on the entire technology piece is Okay.

That can be great. Let's say you have an intranet already. Well, you've [00:37:00] got the technology, but like what you're getting into, Matt, how do people are actually using it, or let's say, which? We've had clients come to us with this before. They've had an intranet for 10 years. No one ever trusts the information on it.

No one ever posts, it's not updated. Well, They just ask me anyway. So what's the point of it? So there actually needs to be a cultural shift that happens in parallel with a rebranding or a refresh or , any number of things. But the cultural shift is, is very key. And one of the things you can do is when you post information there, a, you have to build the trust of, hey, this is gonna be updated and you need to be consistent about it and it needs to be correct information, but instead of just answering people's questions, Send them a link to the content.

The content and yeah. This is something you've talked about a number of times before.  

Matt: Yeah. Like everything you said is great. The if, if you are in an organization today where you're like, we have an intranet, but it's useless, no one uses it. Yeah. I would contend that you fall into a couple different categories.

Number one, you don't understand what the capabilities of an intranet are. We have several [00:38:00] places where we've went in and talked about intranets, and they have in their mind that they have one and they show it. And it's a page with 75 links. Mm. Oh gosh. That is not an intranet. Yeah, right. Yikes. Well, technically it is an intranet.

It's an internal webpage. It's not useful, but it's, it's, it, , there's no point to it. The o the other piece of it is we have an intranet, but. We didn't organize it very well. We didn't have, the tooling, didn't have a way to do news information. And so I felt like the only thing I should put on there is policies and procedures.

But that's super great, but I'm not gonna send an email out with just a link to a policy. Yeah. I wanna give context. Yeah. That  

Emma: is, or only new employees read it for the employee handbook. Correct. Right. And then they never use it  

Matt: again. Yeah. So it, you're right, it's a cultural shift. It's also a, a reassessment of the technology, right?

Like maybe you're on a really old version of whatever this intranet platform that you're using is. Mm-hmm. And you really need to be on the latest. Yeah. But then the other piece of it is I think really where you were driving to, which is the cultural, [00:39:00] like it needs to be a focus of your Yes. Executive team.

Yes. And your employees to say, we're going to make this shift. I talk to HR people all the time, so there's several different ways an intranet is useful. One of the ways is, , I have questions about HR stuff and where do I go to get the definitive answer they're doing, , 60% of their job is somebody's asking a question and I'm responding to that question and I'm going back and forth about the question.

So, We get in and have a, have a conversation and really explain the benefits they transition to say, every time you ask, the first thing I do is send you a link to the content that's on the intranet. And if there's not content, I make content on the intra. I either make it now or I, or I put it in the list to get made and put on the intranet.

And in three months I. I have way less questions because people know where to go to find the information  

Emma: when they're on the page looking at the answer for their original question. Six other questions may be Yep. , answered. Useful, and answered [00:40:00] or,  

Matt: exactly, yeah. Or they, or they know where now to get the answers for the six other questions.

And,  

Emma: and I would say from an employee perspective, I, I feel like this is a pretty what's the word I'm looking for? Where everyone feels the same way. Universal. Universal. I like to be able to ask questions in an autonomous way so I can find the answer. It's empowering. I don't, I don't like having to bug people about my questions all the time, which is probably a topic for another podcast about asking for help.

But it is one of those things where especially when you're new or you're moving into a new role or onto a new team, you want to be able to work autonomously and this. Actually empowers your employees to discover the information, which I mean, we could go down a lot of roads for what that does to an employee's motivation or encouragement at work or just being able to tackle things and feeling equipped at their job.

So for all those reasons, I would definitely recommend  

Matt: doing an intranet. So again, technology is the focus of this particular part of the conversation intranet. That would be one technology you definitely should be looking at. [00:41:00] Like direct message communication platforms. Mm-hmm. Which would include email would be, I would consider part of that.

But it's really, , the ones that we would recommend you focus on would be Slack teams, things like that. Those are the two main areas that are gonna have from a tech pure technology perspective, an impact on your organization. Some of the features that I'll just mention are.

Aggregation security being able to, , create content once and reuse it multiple, multiple, multiple times to make it easier on yourself. Automatic aggregation, like News Digest and, and that kind of thing like we were talking about earlier. , these are, you're talk, you're, you're not just looking for a cms.

If you're familiar with building public websites that I can go, , create web pages, create a new blog post, right? Mm-hmm. Yeah. That's not what you're looking for at all. You. That actually would be a terrible intranet platform. You're really looking for something that executive teams can create or, , marketing or HR teams can create content, reuse that content with.

, some [00:42:00] training, but not a lot of training because your expectation is they're gonna be creating a lot of this stuff and maintaining it on a regular  

Emma: basis. For the small business owner who might be listening, who's thinking I have, , I, I pay for a Microsoft subscription. I pay for let's say OneDrive or SharePoint or whatever.

Yeah. What would be the next step for that person? If they're thinking about, okay, how could I turn this into an intranet?  

Matt: Or, or, yeah. So if you're, If you already have a subscription mm-hmm. And you don't have a place where you're putting stuff today Microsoft has a number of templates. If so, if you're, and again, if you're looking to do this all on your own, like I wanna do it all on my own.

Mm-hmm. Microsoft has another, a number of templates that you can look at related to how you should or how, what the possibilities are. That would be one place to look at the book. Yeah. They call it the Look book. Yep. You can look it up. Nice. So that's one thing you could look at that gives you, kind of get your mind, your juices flowing, your mind going.

But then the other piece of it that I would recommend is you need to start thinking about the, the content, right? Mm-hmm. You need to start thinking about [00:43:00] what it is that you want to put there, right? So under, like, look at your last emails, how many emails have you sent to. All your company, what's the content of those  

Emma: emails?

Well, and I was, I was kind of asking too, cost wise, so if you're a small business owner, you already have that subscription. You, you already have, you already have, you already already have it. Right. So, so you're, you're just a step away  

Matt: from, you don't from don't have, there's no more that you have to pay for.

Right. You can start using SharePoint for this purpose in particular without any more additional costs from a licensing perspective. Mm-hmm. But it does take effort. To Of course, yeah. Figure out what, how to use it best. Right. Because some people make this mis, we know several people who are like, I started using my OneDrive and my whatever to create content.

Mm-hmm. And I, and it's an intranet and technically, I mean, it's an internal webpage. Yes. Yeah. But it's. Absolutely not effective at all for what they're trying to do. It's definitely not the best practice, but it's helpful for the person who's creating the content. Yeah. Because they have one place that they're going to, to find that content, but it gets, it's very burdensome on them.

It's hard to, to, to [00:44:00] spread it out, spread the load and it's just not, it's just not effective at, at communicating how they want. And it's largely because they didn't spend the time upfront. To understand what it means to implement an intranet on  

Emma: the platform. So costs are really time and effort, but ultimately most of these platforms are either a small incremental cost or you're already paying for the benefit.

Correct. Yeah. So that should be an encouragement too, of it's not this super expensive technology, right. It's just about  

Matt: how you use it. The most expense is in, like figuring out how you wanna use it mm-hmm. And then being consistent about it. And the payoff isn't immediate. So it's not like you're gonna get.

You're gonna put in this effort and it's tomorrow we're gonna, all of a sudden everything's gonna be better. But you will start to see it over the course of 2, 3, 4 months. It will transform your business. There's no question.  

Mitch: Yeah. Per usual. I feel like we could talk about this at length. So we covered a couple principles, the technology, some mindset around internal communication.

There's even some principles that we didn't get to, which [00:45:00] we'll have to lay out more in. The product that we're working on that we're excited about. But I did want to call out it probably this episode won't see the light of day before. Emma and Matt have a webinar coming up about this topic where they're gonna kind of work through some of these,  

Matt: but we'll have  

Emma: a, a couple webinars this summer.

We're planning at it.  

Mitch: Yes. So, so be sure to check out our website to see if there's another one coming up, if you're interested in  

Matt: learning more. Yeah. In that one we get a little bit more tactical, so, yeah.  

Livvy: Yeah. Exercises and everything.  

Mitch: Cool. Yep. Any closing  

Matt: thoughts? No, it's a good conversation. Cool.

Well, thanks  

Mitch: everyone. We'll talk soon.

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