“Internal Communication Needs a Big Dose of Courage”

Open dialog empowers employees and drives productivity

25/02/2015

IESE Business School

"You have to understand the interests of workers. Not only what they say they want, but also what they want but don’t say, and even what they don’t even realize they want." / Photo: Javier Arias

According to María Cortina, head of communications at Siemens, internal communication is often left out of companies’ communication strategies, despite its significance. "Employees have a great power that many managers aren’t even aware of. They are key to the reputation, image and prosperity of the organization," she said during a session organized by IESE’s Institute for Media and Entertainment (IME). In Cortina’s opinion, open communication with workers facilitates competiveness, participation and productivity, but secrecy can cost companies credibility or even result in talent loss.

She noted that it is important for employees to feel that "what is best for the company is best for them," and vice versa. "If we can achieve this goal, our employees become our best spokespersons."


Be Brave Enough to Listen

Manuel Tessi, professor of communication at the Universidad Austral (Argentina) and global specialist in the field, said: "In internal communication, you need a big dose of courage. It is clear that listening to workers makes money for companies."

Tessi noted that if managers take the time to listen to employees, employees realize that they are truly important to the company. "Studying behavior is essential in internal communication. You have to understand the interests of workers. Not only what they say they want, but also what they want but don’t say, and even what they don’t even realize they want," he said. Tessi insisted that the key is to ask questions that demonstrate true interest in employees, and then to listen and follow through. He highlighted the importance of measuring results to know if internal communication has been successful.


The Pillars of Internal Communication

José Antonio Carazo, editor of Capital Humano magazine, pointed out that 40 percent of Spanish companies have not included internal communication in their strategic plans. Nor have they adapted their organizational structures to the digital era.

José María Palomares, head of communications at ING Bank, listed the three pillars that he used to develop his organization’s internal communication strategy:

  • Compromise to improve employee loyalty that impacts positively on business
  • Dialog with employees to clarify their true needs
  • Leadership-driven collaboration between management and workers