Internal communication: a tool for building trust and transparency in organizations
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Internal communication: a tool for building trust and transparency in organizations

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Companies and institutions want to gain external credibility, but this is not possiblewithout achieving first internal credibility, without being coherent and consistent inregard to what is done......

Companies and institutions want to gain external credibility, but this is not possiblewithout achieving first internal credibility, without being coherent and consistent inregard to what is done inside and what is demonstrated outside. The goal is clear: ifreputation is contrasted with prescription, employees have to be the first defenders.
Due to the impact of the crisis in many Westerncountries, the benchmark for some companies thatwere unique in recognition because of its ability togenerate attraction and fidelity of talent has significantlydropped. The feeling of many employees ashostages in an unwanted situation, or the workersdismissal leads to rethink some of the bases onwhich people managing is based in organizations,according to the director of HR Reale Seguros,Alfredo Núñez.
This document was prepared by Corporate Excellence – Centre for Repuation Leadership and contains references, among other sources, to the statements made by Pepa Rodríguez, Corporate Communications Manager of British American Tobacco), to Marina Gonzalez,Internal Communication Officer of Endesa, Conchita Gassó, Familiy Office of GAES, by Susana Gómez, Human Resources Director,Kellogg Iberia and Alfredo Núñez Director of HR Reale Seguros during the 32th Conference on Internal Communication Stewards heldby Instituto de Empresa and Corresponsables in Madrid on September 20, 2012.

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  • 1. Insights Strategy Documents I34/2013 Communication Internal communication: a tool for building trust and transparency in organizations Companies and institutions want to gain external credibility, but this is not possible without achieving first internal credibility, without being coherent and consistent in regard to what is done inside and what is demonstrated outside. The goal is clear: if reputation is contrasted with prescription, employees have to be the first defenders. Due to the impact of the crisis in many Western countries, the benchmark for some companies that were unique in recognition because of its ability to generate attraction and fidelity of talent has significantly dropped. The feeling of many employees as hostages in an unwanted situation, or the workers dismissal leads to rethink some of the bases on which people managing is based in organizations, according to the director of HR Reale Seguros, Alfredo Núñez. Aspects such as the increase of job layoffs, reduction of benefits and social plans, increase of working hours or widespread decrease in salaries cannot be forgotten. Thus, when the economic cycle is reactivated, the detach level to those organizations that have not sufficiently taken care of its talents -that were not responsible in this sense- may appear as important. In this context, what is the role that can and should play a real internal communication when changing organizations and making them more sensitive to the real needs and current employees? Is there an effective way to facilitate an internal atmosphere conducive to trust and respect within companies and institutions? The main role of transparency Communication is of special relevance when achieving transparency in organizations, not because it is necessary to tell everything at all times, but because it is necessary to tell everything that is important and that is required by employees, with particular emphasis on the companies’ behaviour, their successes and their mistakes as a sincere way to achieve credibility. However, communication does not generate internal credibility, but facilitates it. Particularly, social, environment, and labour actions This document was prepared by Corporate Excellence – Centre for Repuation Leadership and contains references, among other sources, to the statements made by Pepa Rodríguez, Corporate Communications Manager of British American Tobacco), to Marina Gonzalez, Internal Communication Officer of Endesa, Conchita Gassó, Familiy Office of GAES, by Susana Gómez, Human Resources Director, Kellogg Iberia and Alfredo Núñez Director of HR Reale Seguros during the 32th Conference on Internal Communication Stewards held by Instituto de Empresa and Corresponsables in Madrid on September 20, 2012.
  • 2. Internal communication: a tool for building trust and transparency in organizations are of special importance, since they increase the sense of belonging and the member pride, according to Conchita Gassó, Familiy Office of GAES. Employees are identified with the company and pleased to work in a company that contributes to society and does things for others. However, it is consistency between the value promise and brand attributes what makes transparency, credibility and trust to internally and externally success. If there is little relationship between them or there is a big gap, credibility and trust will plummet. On the contrary, if the gap is small or non-existent, credibility and trust will be strengthened. Transparency also acts as an antidote to potential defense mechanisms that are generated in organizations when what is said -messages- and what is done -policies- do not coincide. If managers and middle managers are responsible for this behavioural problem, they are also the respond when achieving a respectful organization, transparent in behaviours and communications. ‘If there is a stakeholder that really knows the reality of an organization that is the employee of such organization’ Employees, main guarantors If there is a stakeholder that really knows the reality of an organization that is the employee of such organization. The talent of a company is the main guarantor of the necessary consistency, the main guarantee that can prove that is done what is said and only what is said is done, as pointed by Susana Gómez, Human Resources Director, Kellogg Iberia. If an organization achieves a small -or non-existentgap between its identity and reputation, i.e. between internal and external reputation, then its ability to attract and build loyalty with talent employees, clients, and investors will grow consistently. That is the reason why many corporations are putting at the front of their communication strategies to their own workers. People are increasingly choosing to work, buy or invest in companies with which they feel comfortable, but also they are increasingly taking into account how these companies “socially” behave. In this sense, organizations are impacting in their internal communication practices when giving prominence to actions related to CSR and corporate volunteering. More than ever, people want socially legitimate organizations. The alignment of internalexternal communication Therefore internal communication credibility also depends on the degree of alignment with external communication, on the balance between what is done and said inside with what is done and said outside. To achieve this, it is essential to plan and no to improvise, not to overdo in the amount and intensity of communication, since the saturation is, in turn, counterproductive with credibility. Alignment is not achieved following trends, doing things because other companies do them, or copying other companies; however, alignment is achieved by conviction and because it fits with the positioning and branding of the company. Another important element in communication is the fight against scepticism and rumour, two of the main enemies of trust, credibility and, ultimately, reputation. According to Pepa Rodríguez, Corporate Communications Manager of British American Tobacco, alignment between internal and external communication improve commitment. The relationship between the employee and the company -and its business- is the key to a good reputation, and communication is the backbone of this process. To sum up, credibility and the internal-external alignment are also achieved by providing within the organization not only the good news, successes or achievements (as it is provided outside) but also, the bad news, the fails or failures. Credibility is acquired primarily when an organization is able to tell their employees not only what it does well, but what it does wrong, and what it is going to do to improve it. Radical Transparency Transparency is a key factor since it has a direct impact on the stakeholder behaviours, along with sincerity. Although according to the British American Tobacco Dircom, information overload can become counterproductive. It is Graph 1: Internal Communication - Communication and Strategy ENGAGEMENT BUSINESS REPUTATION Generate link with the worker Source: Roxana Gomez, 2011. Insights 2
  • 3. Internal communication: a tool for building trust and transparency in organizations Graph 2: Internal Communication Cycle Consensus Information Communication Negotiation Internal Communication Cycle Participation/Engagement Confidence ‘Credibility is achieved when companies are able to tell employees not only what is done well, but what is done wrong, and how it will be improved’ Understanding Source: Communication Strategies and Practices for a Telecentre Network, 2010. all about understanding transparency as the ability to better explain issues to stakeholders. Transparency requires regular and reliable information, credible, but relevant, responsive to the real needs of the stakeholders. At the same time, it is necessary to properly manage the frequency of communications, its immediacy and accessibility. Nowadays, employees require, as well as other stakeholders, transparent communication and that means a fast communication, since any delay in the delivery of information is seen as an attempt to hide something. And deception is the opposite way to that transparency and confidence that companies want to generate. Provide accurate and necessary information is essential to be credible and make internal communication as the spearhead of talent employee, strengthening its pride of belonging. According to Marina Gonzalez, Internal Communication Officer of Endesa, the active participation of the employee is essential to amplify the effectiveness and internal communication cycle. When employees are the internal communication protagonists, and they take part in the stories of the company, employees become internal and external prescribers for the company. Conclusion: recognize successes and admit failures The best internal communication is based on a deep and sincere humility, avoiding at all times triumphalism and exaggeration, since these often lead to contradictions and not only in medium or long, but, increasingly, to short term . Having a good dose of humility is useful to recognize successes and failures. In addition, a communication based in projects is much more credible than another held in the air that does not have the help and support -always necessary- of reality. The short distance between words and deeds, between messages and policies, is the way to an effective and successful internal communication policy. Finally, the alignment between internal and external communication is the third element that gives more credibility and prestige to the communication strategy of an organization. But above all, which brings a significant alignment between both communications is an increase of commitment, key factor in corporate reputation management. Insights 3
  • 4. Leading by reputation ©2013, Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership A foundation established by major companies aiming to excel in the management of intangible assets and facilitate promotion of strong brands with a good reputation and a capacity to compete on the global markets. Our objective is to become the driving force, which would lead and consolidate professional reputation management as a strategic asset, fundamental for building value of companies around the world. Disclaimer This document is a property of Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership developed with an objective to share business knowledge about management of reputation, brand, communication and public affairs. Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership is the owner of all rights related to the intellectual property on images, texts, drawings or any other content or elements of this product. Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership is the holder of all necessary permissions for the use of the document and therefore any reproduction, distribution, publishing or modification of the document without its express permission is prohibited.