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Establishing and then running a small- or medium-sized business (SMB) isn’t easy. . In this post, we’ll focus on one of them: improving internal communications. Let’s look at some common challenges there, and how to solve them.
Manage rapid growth with these internal communication techniques

Effective internal communication tools

Establishing and then running a small- or medium-sized business (SMB) isn’t easy. Statistics show that most SMBs eventually fail, and sooner than you might think. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that within a given 10-year period, 70% of all businesses founded in the first year will fail. The failure rate increases steadily by year*, meaning that even if the business survives year one, each year after is just as important. Webex offers a solution that allows your entire team to harness the power of video, voice, messaging, and more from a platform that’s easy to use on any device.

There’s no obvious solution for avoiding failure, or else everyone would already be doing it. Instead, companies have to do the hard work of sustaining growth and profitability even in the face of multiple headwinds, such as hiring staff, buying insurance, and expanding into new markets. Keeping the growth engine going requires diligent action on multiple fronts. In this post, we’ll focus on one of them: improving internal communications. Let’s look at some common challenges there, and how to solve them.

1. Creating and following a clear communication plan

According to the Gatehouse State of the Sector 2018 report, 31% of internal communicators in North America did not conduct any formal planning. That means their communications are often reactive instead of proactive. Whether it’s communication during a crisis or just a routine event like managing a hiring process, inadequate planning for internal communications may leave employees confused.

A better way forward is to create and share guidelines for internal communications. It’s important to take a collaborative approach to such planning, by gathering input from all stakeholders and setting up a common shared resource that everyone can go back to. Look for a solution that can simplify this task by making it easy to share, find, and organize files in dedicated spaces accessible by entire teams.

2. Eliminating operational silos between departments

Silos – i.e., de facto separated units, cut off from the organization at-large – aren’t just issues for large enterprises; emerging businesses can struggle with this issue as well. For example:

  • An SMB’s finance department might be disconnected from its other teams, creating significant consequences for the entire company.
  • This may lead to accountants and planners making decisions without knowing the full picture of what’s going on elsewhere in the firm.
  • As a result of inaccurate budgeting and forecasting, an SMB with already-thin margins may feel even more squeezed.

Silo elimination requires better collaboration. Entire collaborative movements, like DevOps in software development, have emerged to address the silo issue in particular. But suitable tools are needed, too.

Integrated solutions for messaging, calling, white-boarding, and more help address silos by putting all important information and context in one place. Collaborators can enjoy a single “version of the truth”, instead of working on redundant and possibly disjointed workflows.

3. Consistently distributing feedback to employees

SMBs live and die by the engagement of their employees. Since their teams are relatively small, it’s especially important for each member to be as engaged as possible. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done, due to issues such as inconsistent delivery of feedback.

A Zenger Folkman assessment found that employees working under managers who provided clear, actionable feedback were three times more engaged** than leaders who weren’t. In fact, those leaders who weren’t great at providing actionable feedback had employees who were three times more likely to quit.

Consistently providing feedback can seem challenging for busy managers, more so if they have to oversee employees who routinely work outside the office. Weaving in tools such as video conferencing and instant messaging can make feedback delivery more streamlined than simply relying on emails (too easily overlooked in many cases) or in-person meetings (often hard to schedule and coordinate).

4. Creating infrastructure to support remote and mobile workers

For some time now, non-traditional remote and mobile working arrangements have been gathering momentum. Giving employees the flexibility to work from virtually anywhere has distinct benefits for them and for the SMBs that employ them. It can reduce costs for travel and office space, improve morale and productivity, broaden hiring searches, and enable more practical expansion.

If there’s a catch, it’s that employees can often feel lonely and disengaged outside the office. Buffer discovered as much in its 2019 State of Remote Work report, in which loneliness and communications and collaboration were cited as the top challenges when working remotely. These challenges of disconnection can dampen the prospects of a business.

The good news is that boosting engagement is realistic with modern collaboration software. Setting up a video conference can make a group of participants feel like they’re in the same room even when they’re far apart. Likewise, using unified collaborative spaces for file sharing and instant messaging can lessen a remote employee’s feeling that they’re somehow missing out on important information and context.

How to upgrade your internal communications

Realizing and addressing these challenges will set your business up for more sustainable success.

Learn more by getting started with a free plan today!

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*Failure rate of businesses in the first year

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The buyers guide to collaboration software
The buyer’s guide to collaboration software

Selecting collaboration software for your organization can feel overwhelming, with a bunch of spec sheets to pore over and budgetary constraints to keep in mind throughout the process. When picking between these options, the best route is usually to evaluate each one holistically.

Why the holistic approach is the best way to buy collaboration software

That means looking beyond how the solutions compare on functionality alone. You’ll also want to scrutinize these five characteristics:

  1. Usability: Is there a steep learning curve? How easy will it be for team members to buy into a completely new collaboration suite?
  2. Pricing: Is a free trial available? Will I be billed annually or monthly? How flexible are the plans?
  3. Ecosystem: Can the platform in question be paired with the tools you already rely on, or will you have to craft complicated new workflows?
  4. Security: How is data encryption implemented? What access controls are available to administrators to manage access to meetings?
  5. Hosting: Are they situated on-premises or in the cloud? What support services and quality assurance measures can customers expect from the provider?
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