Top 6 Tips For Multinationals To Improve Internal Communication

March 27th, 2015

Faulted internal communication at most businesses often leads to broken processes, disparity and frustration among employees, delayed decision making, and eventually affects the bottom line.  But if internal communication becomes a challenge at domestic companies, the issue multiplies at multinational firms that also face having to overcome differences in time zones, languages and cultures.

While there is no silver bullet to fix all communication issues within any organization, the following 6 ideas will help your company get on the right track towards interactional improvement. 

  1.  Set a Strategic Communication Plan

After reading this article, identify your own communication gaps, research possible solutions, discuss them with your international office leaders and department heads, and sit down to write down your moving forward international communication strategy.  Depending on your corporate needs, it can be as complex as regular international teleconferences, a variety of communication optimization technology tools and frequent visits to all of your branch offices… or as simple as weekly company-wide memo emails.   Whatever your strategy is, make sure it is documented and your leadership team is aligned in its execution.

      2.   Unified Corporate Mission and Vision

The most important idea that you have to communicate to all of your employees, at every level and every branch in the company, is your vision and mission statement.   Whatever other faulty lines of communication exist, having clear mission and vision statements will at least ensure that everyone is on the same page about the purpose and direction of your company and all work towards the same goal.  Get your statements translated into native languages for each office, include them into employee handbooks and on-boarding documents, and display them proudly on your localized websites.

      3.   Communication Technology

In today’s digital age with the cornucopia of communication technology available for all needs at all levels, there’s no reason why your company can’t benefit from such a solution when email alone is not enough.  Depending on exactly where your communication gaps lie, your budget, the total size of your company and other factors, the technology that could work best for you might be different than the next company.  When I first started my career, I found myself at a small, yet international, company with offices in Rockville, MD and in Kiev, Ukraine.  As our total internal staff was no more than 25 people, and all Ukrainian colleagues worked on US time, Skype was an adequate solution to reach others: one on one and in all-employee chat rooms.  However, a multinational with many different departments and thousands of employees all over the world might benefit from a feature-rich intranet and community-engagement platforms and internal social networks.

      4.   Translation to Local Languages

Any company-wide messages, whether in the form of employee handbook, brand guidelines or company announcements, should be translated, and, where appropriate, localized, for the local language and culture.  Such uniformity of information will help to ensure that everyone receives and interprets information the way that it was intended and the way that is the most appropriate to the receiving audience. 

      5.   Live Events & Office Visits

Sometimes, the most effective way to get the message across is face to face interaction.  Annual organizational roadshows and tours can help employees feel more connected to their executive management, and vice versa, give the executive team a better understanding of their off-shore employees.   When I was at the afore-mentioned company with offices in Rockville and Kiev, our CEO would divide his time equally between the two offices, literally traveling to Ukraine every other month.  However, that is not reasonable for most companies, where the management needs to spend more time at the headquarters to hold down the fort.  Some companies organize annual or biennial events, where most worldwide employees fly to one location for a multi-day, company-wide event.  Decide your most efficient way to meet your staff and take the time to get to know them, their individual contributions and the messages they might have for you.  

      6.   Encourage 2-way Communication

A closed communication loop consists of a sender transmitting a message to a receiver, who, alternately, provides feedback to the message, thus, becoming the sender.   Listening to your employees can have a significant effect on your organization’s operational effectiveness by making your staff feel valued, improving morale and sourcing creative bottom-up ideas and solutions to your company’s problems.  One way to do this is to create an email address for all international staff to submit their feedback and ideas.  

 

Internal communication within a multinational corporation can become a complicated process.  However, with a little planning and effort, improving your communication process will have a direct effect on your bottom line.  OHT Enterprise can help you with your multilingual internal communication strategy by providing professional translations for any of your on-boarding documents, paperwork, messaging, intranet and social networks, and even emails.  
Contact us for more information and we can tell you how we can help your company improve your internal communication and get everyone on the same page.