Internal Communication is a vital part of any organization. It has a direct impact on the health of the company. But keeping employees engaged and focused can be a tough challenge. And especially so in a global company. At the Cloud Communications division of NTT Ltd., Magali Dos Santos, Head of Internal Communication, oversees this mission.
We met with her as part of our “A day in the life” series. We wanted to learn how she manages Internal Communication and keeps people informed and engaged.
Magali began working with the company in 2011. She and her team produce and deliver key messages and campaigns on behalf of the senior management team. The team’s role is to build awareness of core programs and initiatives, and to keep employees up-to-date on the business. Initiatives include recognition and solidarity initiatives, video testimonials, engagement & feedback surveys, and regular live webcasts.
But producing content is not enough in itself to deliver a dynamic, worldwide Internal Communication strategy worldwide. There’s much more to it than that.
Be the coach of your team
For Magali, successful Internal Communication starts within her own team. She works closely with them so they understand the strategy, can execute the initiatives, and achieve the set goals. “More than a manager, I see my role as a coach,” she says. She provides clear direction but want to see them express their own opinions and creativity. “But I am always ready to offer guidance, expertise, and help when needed.” She’s keen on real-time, and informal feedback. “We discuss the work they’re doing, their overall job satisfaction and most importantly, their well-being.”
Her management style and the role of Internal Communication have the same foundations. They keep everybody informed and engaged. And they give clear direction and guidance while encouraging open dialogue and feedback.
Use the right communication tools
It’s also important to use the right communication tools. As a global company, there is a highly diverse workforce. There are many different countries, languages and specialist areas. It’s a challenge Magali relishes. “We’re lucky in that we provide clients with Cloud Communications solutions across Unified Communications, Cloud Voice, and Digital Events. I can happily say that for Internal Communication we ‘drink our own champagne.’ (Sorry, I’m French!”)
And particularly so using video. With so many working remotely, Magali feels that whilst email is vital, “video is key. It helps us create a social link and increases reach and employee engagement.”
It’s also vital to ensure messages don’t get lost in translation. Here, Magali quotes Nelson Mandela. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart.” Her tip to avoid cross-cultural confusion and language barriers? “Use repetition, and short and simple sentences. I also use different words and visuals to express the same ideas.” To monitor success, she runs regular surveys to gain feedback.
Create a sense of belonging
Most organizations strive to create a sense of belonging in their employees. However, this can be a real problem within Human Resource departments because not all employees automatically feel included. So what can Internal Communication professionals do to create a sense of belonging among employees?
According to Magali, companies can “increase employee motivation by giving them good reasons to feel part of the company. These can help build high levels of motivation for action.”
Building a sense of belonging is one thing but maintaining it is another challenge. “It is the most interesting part of our job. It forces us to constantly reinvent ourselves. Not just in the way we communicate but also in the way we run our programs.”
She cites the COVID-19 pandemic to illustrate her point. “We not only had to build an internal crisis communication plan, but to alter the frequency of our communications. How could we maintain the social link with our employees? We did so by adapting our solidarity and recognition programs. We ran them physically where offices are open, but remotely in offices that remained closed.”
Awareness, engagement, and productivity for a client-centric company culture
An efficient Internal Communication program relies on some foundational elements: giving clear information, listening to feedback, using the right communication tools, and ensuring all employees feel included. Magali also engages with colleagues worldwide to create an informal network of communication champions. She feels this provides several benefits. he organization and the employees:
- Awareness: It’s important that an employee understands the ‘Why?’ of our strategy and how she/he fits in to it. This helps employees to share the same vision and purpose. And thus to better understand how we all are working together towards a common goal.”
- Engagement: “It is a continuous journey. And on route we need to always ask the right questions and answer others too. We must communicate openly and transparently. By answering sometimes difficult questions, and always asking for feedback, we drive more positive business results.”
- Productivity: “With better awareness and engagement, employees can better understand the impact of their work. This can lead to a better sense of purpose which in turn drives overall productivity.”
A well-managed Internal Communication Team contributes to building a client-centric company culture. Client satisfaction is what connects the various departments of our company. On that point, our motto is clear. As Magali puts it: “happy employees make happy clients.”