The Importance Of Internal Communication
Workplacement Final Report
January 15th, 2011
Table of Contents
TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u I.Executive Summary PAGEREF _Toc282880199 \h 3II.Introduction PAGEREF _Toc282880200 \h 4III.Quotes PAGEREF _Toc282880201 \h 51.What Is Communication PAGEREF _Toc282880202 \h 62.Communication Model PAGEREF _Toc282880203 \h 73.1 Verbal Communication PAGEREF _Toc282880204 \h 83.2 Written Communication PAGEREF _Toc282880205 \h 93.3 Non-Verbal Communication PAGEREF _Toc282880206 \h 93.4 Visual Communication PAGEREF _Toc282880207 \h 94.Why Is Communication Important PAGEREF _Toc282880208 \h 105.What Is Corporate Communication PAGEREF _Toc282880209 \h 106.Communication At Continental PAGEREF _Toc282880210 \h 116.1 Internal Communication At Continental PAGEREF _Toc282880211 \h 126.2 Goals Of Continental’s Internal Corporate Communication PAGEREF _Toc282880212 \h 147.The Importance Of Internal Communication For A Company PAGEREF _Toc282880213 \h 158.Bibliography PAGEREF _Toc282880214 \h 17
Executive SummaryThe purpose of this report is to provide an investigation on the topic “the importance of internal communication”. This report aims to give a general overview about what is communication and why is internal communication so important for a company. The report is based on primary and secondary data. These data were provided by desk research, personal experience within the company, interviews with employees and the internet. Communication can be defined as is the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behavior. A communication process involves a sender, the subject matter of communication, the medium of communication, and the receiver of the communication. We might not see it that way, but communication is essential in everyone’s life. All we do on a daily basis is to communicate with others. As a matter of fact we spend 70 percent on that every day. It is not only talking in person to other people but also writing Emails, talking on a phone, chatting on the internet, etc. Communication is not only vital for people but also for businesses, especially if they want to be successful. It is important because people who work in a company are their “representatives” and that reflects to their customers and the general public. Employees feel comfortable at their workplace if they are involved in the company’s business and when they are more informed. That is where internal communication needs to take place. Today there are various media a company can use to communicate with its employees, like internal newsletter, events, intranet, etc. The company just needs to make sure that those media are being used by its employees and maybe even get feedback on it for improvement suggestions. It can be said that without any form of communication neither people nor businesses would survive. Therefore, even for companies communication and especially internal communication is very important.
IntroductionWe live in a communication and knowledge society. The capability for a correct- and partner equitable communication is for an active participation in a democratic society a key qualification. Communication is next to the metabolic functions an indicator of life. Therefore, communication is a basic human need. The biological and social existence of the human would not be possible without communication (example of Kaspar Hauser Effect). centercenter00Definition: "Any act by which one person gives to or receives from another person information about that person's needs, desires, perceptions, knowledge, or affective states. Communication may be intentional or unintentional, may involve conventional or unconventional signals, may take linguistic or nonlinguistic forms, and may occur through spoken or other modes." In this report I am going to analyze what communication means to society and especially internal communication to businesses, on the example of the international company Continental AG. Continental is one of the four largest automotive suppliers in the world and was founded on October 8th, 1871, in Hanover, Germany. The company grew from a small town business into a worldwide known successful company with locations around the globe. During my internship in the communication department of Continental I got a very good insight into their daily work and functions. Based on this experience I was able to gather a lot of useful information about communication, which will be described in the following parts. My analysis will show the importance of internal communication.Quotes“Communication is talking to one another, it is television, it is spreading information, it is hairstyle, it is literary criticism: the list is endless.”John Fiske “The art of communication is the language of leadership.”James Humes “No one would talk much in society if they knew how often they misunderstood others.”Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” Anthony Robbins “Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.”Rollo May “Today, communication itself is the problem. We have become the world's first overcommunicated society. Each year we send more and receive less.”Al Ries “Communication is not only the essence of being human, but also a vital property of life.”John A. Piece“After all, it's the future of business communication that we're looking toward.”Jim Barksdale“Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn't listening.”Emma Thompson What Is CommunicationCommunication is Latin and means communicare “share, inform, attending, unify, act jointly”. In this primary sense, a social action is meant to accommodate several people at once. On the one hand key aspects of this social action are suggestion and implementation of sign processes and on the other hand the participation, in which something is created as a common denominator (Latin communio: “Community”, communis: “common”). Communication as social action is always context-specific and it helps to solve problems: through communication barriers can be overcome, which cannot cope alone. Communication is often described as “exchange” or “transfer” of information. In this context “information” is a collective term for knowledge, perception or experience. With “exchange” a mutual give and take is meant. With the description of “transfer” it is meant that in the course of action distances can be overcome, or an idea is meant that leave the thoughts, ideas, opinions from one individual and move into another. This is a particular view and metaphorical description of the everyday life. For a more detailed description of the phenomenon of communication, the application of this metaphor is becoming increasingly more difficult. Next to the original meaning, the word communication is also used as a social activity to other processes in different contexts. For example, the increasing use of communication technologies was also a reason that technological aspects were included in the concept of communication as well. Thus, communication is also called “signal transfer”, “mutual control” and in simple cases “connection” of technical devices. In other situations, the word communication is related to institutions or companies and their target groups. Therefore, no longer living organism, but organized units (or systems) are regarded as communicators (producers and recipients). This applies, for example, if we talk about journalism or marketing communications. Communication ModelCommunication models are trying to model the complex reality of communication in a way that they are seeking to grasp the essential factors (“variables”) in the communication processes. Therefore, they are only simplifying “models” of reality, not reality itself. The oldest and simplest model of the communication is the information theory, which comes from the telecommunications and specifies the basic parameters for the transmission of information. Model of communication by Shannon & Weaver (1949) The information source selects a desired message out of a set of possible messages. The transmitter changes the message into a signal that is sent over the communication channel to the receiver. The receiver is a sort of inverse transmitter, changing the transmitted signal back into a message, and interpreting this message. This message is then sent to the destination. The destination may be another receiver (i.e., the message is passed on to someone else), or the message may rest with the initial receiver, and the transmission is achieved. In the process of transmitting a message, certain information that was not intended by the information source is unavoidably added to the signal (or message). This “noise” can be internal (e.g. coming from the receiver's own knowledge, attitudes, or beliefs) or external (e.g. coming from other sources). Such internal or external “noise” can either strengthen the intended effect of a message (if the information confirms the message), or weaken the intended effect (if the information in the “noise” contradicts the original message). What is thought - is not always said;
What is said - is not always heard;
What is heard - is not always understood;
What is understood - is not always agreed;
What is agreed - is not always concerned;
What is concerned - is not always done;
What is done - is not always done again and
What is done is often sometimes far from being accepted. (Konrad Lorenz) Types Of Communication
The process of communication requires a broad repertoire of skills in intrapersonal and interpersonal processing, listening, watching, speaking, questioning, analyzing and evaluating. Modern communication media, such as Email, telephone and mobile phone enable us to communicate information, news, opinions, thoughts and speech more easily.Basic forms of communication are, for example, talking, singing, sign language, body language, touch and eye contact. These basic ways of communication are used to transfer information from one entity to another. There are various different types of communication, but they can be classified into four basic types of communication. 3.1 Verbal CommunicationThe first type of communication is verbal communication. Verbal communication consists of sounds, words, language and speaking. It is said that language has arisen from sounds and gestures. Around the world numerous languages are being spoken. The fundamentals of language formation are: gender, class, profession, geographical area, age group, and other social elements. One of the most effective ways of communicating is speaking, which can be classified into interpersonal communication and public speaking. Good verbal communication is an indissociable part of business communication. When working in a business, you have to deal and work with people from various ages, cultures and races. Therefore, fluent verbal communication is very important when dealing with people in business meetings. Another essential factor in business communication is self-confidence, and if it is tightly connected with fluent communication skills then it can lead to great success. Public speaking is also an example of verbal communication in which somebody has to address a group of people. To hold an effective public speech, the preparation is very important. You have to prepare the speech according to the type audience you will face. The subject matter of the speech should be credible and you must have enough information on the topic you have chosen for public speaking. Your main points should be emphasized and those points should be delivered in the right order. Since there are a lot of different public speaking techniques those techniques should be practiced before any speech. 3.2 Written CommunicationThe second type of communication is written communication. This type of communication means to write down the words which you want to communicate. For businesses, for example, good written communication is very essential. It is practiced in many different languages. Emails, reports, articles, and memos are some of the forms of using written communication in business. In written communication it is possible to edit and modify the intended communication before it is communicated to the second party. For business activity this is a big advantage and a major relevance why it is used there. Written communication is used not only in business but also for informal communication purposes. One example would be text massaging as a form of informal written communication. 3.3 Non-Verbal CommunicationThe third type of communication is non-verbal communication. This category of communication involves physical ways of communication by sending and receiving wordless messages that are passed on by facial expression, eye contact, gestures, posture and body language. In fact, the verbal communication can also contain non-verbal elements known as paralanguage that comprise the speaking quality of the voice, intonation, stress, emotion and style. Even non-verbal elements play an important role in written texts and in the form of handwriting and the spatial arrangement of words. There are different kinds of non-verbal communication. An example for creative and aesthetic non-verbal communication would be music, dancing, and sculpturing. Symbols and sign language are also included in non-verbal communication. Body language and physical contact transfer a lot of information. Your body posture is important when communicating verbally to someone. It can help you to know a person better if you can read facial expressions. Researches indicate that 55 percent of communication is attributable to body language, 38 percent to the tone of voice and 7 percent to the content or words in communication. 3.4 Visual CommunicationThe fourth type of communication is visual communication. As the name already implies, this type of communication is used by visual help. This method of transmission of ideas and information is primarily with two-dimensional images, which contain characters, typographies, drawings, graphic designs, illustrations, colors and other related electronic resources. This form of communication using visual effect is based on the concept that a visual message with text has a higher power to inform, educate or persuade a person. The most common types to present information visually are video and television. Here the focus is integrated on the display of text, images, graphics and photos on the computer display. This category of communication is used by many graphic designers. Why Is Communication ImportantCommunication is a vital aspect of our lives. It is hard to imagine living a life without any communication. In fact, it might not even be possible and that is the reason why even hearing impaired people, deaf mutes, and visually impaired people found a way to communicate with others. In other words, communication is mostly an expression of oneself and the exchange of thoughts between people. We spend 70 percent of our daily life communicating with others. In fact, it is also well-known that good communication is the back bone of any organization. A person may have great ideas on his mind, but unless they are communicated to others, it is not possible to implement that idea and it is also difficult to finish all the tasks on one’s own. People with good communication skills have a big advantage and are an asset to any organization. What Is Corporate CommunicationCorporate communication can be defined in various different ways but all of them refer to the main aspect, which is the sharing of information and knowledge. Communication is the process of sharing information, and in much the same manner, corporate communication refers to the communication which is used by a company, either verbally or written. There are two different types of corporate communication. It can be divided into internal corporate communication and in external corporate communication. Internal communication is the exchange of information within the company, between the employees of the company, various divisions, or the communication used for making announcements with regards to the growth of the business and its vision and other goals. Today internal communication is a key factor for any business which wants to grow. The information that the company is sending out to its shareholders, customers, clients, and other agencies about its business, its performance, its growth etc. can be defined as external corporate communication. The main goal of external corporate communication is to enhance the company’s reputation among the shareholders. External corporate communication would include annual reports, billboards, company brochures, advertisements, etc. Today external communication is very important because due to this communication the company can make its presence in the “outside world” and keep people informed about its services, products, development, growth etc. Silence may be golden, but that saying does not apply to the corporate world because without corporate communication, internal as well as external, a company could not perform up to its fullest and eventually will not survive in the long run. Communication At Continental3136900159194500The goal and purpose of Continental's professional and systematic communication worldwide is to help create a relationship of trust between the company and its stakeholders, and also to strengthen that relationship. Continental's stakeholders primarily consist of customers, employees, investors, business partners and suppliers, political groups, neighbors and residents near company sites, the media, associations, as well as schools, universities and prospective employees. For a good relationship, Continental uses tools and resources to communicate information, presenting and conveying information and the positions of the company, and for creating dialogue and exchange with stakeholders. This means that, alongside its function as a disseminator of information, communication also has an antenna function that makes important information and positions of the stakeholders known within the company. With its Corporate Communication Continental is trying to influence the company's reputation and to shape it so as to establish an image in the minds of stakeholders that is in line with the company's vision and mission. This is done by using direct forms of communication, as well as indirect forms via different types of media. This way, the corporate communication professionals support their company's goal achievement by addressing external and internal audiences alike. Because goal achievement always has a content aspect (e.g. profit-making) and a relationship aspect (e.g. reliable behavior), communication plays a valuable role in building lasting competitiveness, value creation, and perception of the company. The competencies for a worldwide professional and systematic communication at Continental, therefore, include creating the official expressions of life, for example, the identity and symbols of the company, both internally and externally. Official announcements, promotional measures, and events would be just some examples in this context. The method of professional and systematic communication worldwide can be described by the following characteristics: Geared to the strategic goals of the company
Efficient and effective
Uniform and consistent
Reliable and trustworthy
Respectful and appreciative
The organization of communication at Continental is broken down roughly into Communication at corporate level (e.g. above all strategy and topics concerning the company as a whole),
Communication at divisional level (e.g. above all strategy and topics concerning the division and their markets),
Communication at regional level (e.g. above all strategy and topics concerning the regions and their countries/ locations).
6.1 Internal Communication At ContinentalContinental handles internal communication very accurate and tries to push it as far as possible. The company supports their employees’ capabilities and personal development, and acknowledges their performances because they think that the employees’ commitment and expertise secure Continental’s success. The task of internal communication is to ensure that all employees at Continental receive important information about the company, central functions and business units. Continental uses various media to communicate with its employees. First of all, the intranet where only the employees of Continental have access to. Basically, the intranet is an internal network and provides a lot of information about the company, new updates, colleagues, templates, presentations, etc. It helps the employees to look for information they need for their work and to keep up to date with the latest news. 16700514859000Secondly, the so called TC News, which is a monthly newsletter. The newsletter contains article written by employees from the communication department to inform about new events or by employees from other departments to inform their colleagues about their latest work, new inventions and so on. The newsletter is send to every employee by Email and is also published on the intranet side. 479933021590Thirdly, internal events help to reach the employees on a more personal level. Continental has several internal events which are intending to help the communication. One of those events is the Technology Day, which can be defined as an internal technology fair. Every department gets its own exhibition stand, where their can present their work and latest innovations. The Technology Day gives colleagues a chance to get a better insight about each other’s work. -1784355080Fourthly, Continental created its own internal media database which is called contiVIEW. This database contains all kinds of logos, brochures, photos, presentations, templates, videos, etc. employees might need or which can be used for diverse publication channels. All the data is well organized and easy to find with the search engine. The database is only accessible to employees of Continental, but it is possible to send a link with a specific document via contiVIEW to an external person (e.g. customers, press), who can then open its content. This process makes some of the work much easier because all the data on this side is approved by the corporate management and can be used for any publication with the authorized corporate design. Fifthly, Continental is organizing an art exhibition in their Technology Center in Hanover, Germany. This exhibition is called ARTforum and every two to three months a new artist can present its work. Since this is an internal event, most of the artists are employees of Continental or family members who do photography or paintings in their free time and want to share this work with their colleagues. The ARTforum is another event, where Continental brings together its employees to communicate, and maybe not always about work, but also about the same interests in arts. Sixthly, guided tours through departments are organized. Mostly those guided tours are for customers or students, but employees can attend those tours as well. The goal is to get a better insight into different departments. In each department one responsible person is telling the “visitors” what the department is about and what they are doing there. This helps the employees to see something other than just the department they are working in and they also get a better feeling about what their colleagues are doing. It can also help to socialize between the colleagues. Seventhly, the Continental magazine “Conti intern” which is published quarterly in different languages. The magazine contains articles with news from the Continental locations worldwide. The goal is to inform the employees not only about news from their location but also about other locations of Continental. This helps the employees to see what is going on with the company they are working for. There is much more, that Continental provides its employees with to increase the internal communication. There are whole departments, which are just concerning on this part of the company. When talking to employees at Continental they will tell you that they enjoy the atmosphere in the company, with its open door policy and de cross-departmental teamwork. It gives the employees the feeling that they are one big family and they are satisfied with the work they are doing. Therefore, Continental has this expression which says “once a Conti, always a Conti”. And it is true; a lot of the employees are staying at the company their entire life. Of course they don’t have to stay in the same department all those years because the company is very large and there are a lot of opportunities for a promotion or changing to a different department within the company. 6.2 Goals Of Continental’s Internal Corporate CommunicationInternal communication makes a measurable contribution to the success of the company and to increase the value of the company. Continental’s communicative goals are based upon the strategy and the corporate goals of the Executive Board, which highly values internal communication. At the same time, internal communication is the most attractive source of information for the employees. They share information on topics of relevance to the company in a manner that is credible, speedy, on-going and easily understandable. They provide employees with contexts and orientation in a working and living environment that is constantly changing. In order for Continental to be successful, it is vital that their employees demonstrate greater-than-normal dedication. With successful communication, they contribute to a working climate and company culture in which employees are more committed. It activates and supports executives in their communication with the employees and fosters employee participation. Here, the executives serve as role models and have a lasting stylistic influence. Communication is not a one-way street. That is why they attach a high priority to dialogue and work closely together with their partners in the divisions. Success results from cooperation: They, therefore, help overcome organizational and regional boundaries and support the early and transparent exchange of relevant knowledge, developing and making available appropriate communications media for this purpose. They share advice regarding all company-relevant internal communication matters and are an integral part of corporate communications. The Importance Of Internal Communication For A CompanyThe task of internal communication is to make decisions transparent, showing the employees certain behaviors and to eliminate rumors and uncertainty. It can help to optimize organizational processes, to increase motivation and to establish a productive dialogue. It can also help to strengthen the trust in the corporate management, as well as the employees' loyalty to the company. In the past, most companies have barely even dealt with internal communication. First, it was only dealt with in the human resources departments because they are the once who have to take care of the employees. For the management it was more important to reach out to customers and the public with marketing communication and with the help of external communication to the journalists. There was a slow change during the 90’s and it became clearer that the employees need to be more integrated with their company. Anyone who invests in their employees wants to know how decisions of the corporate management are being made. Additionally, the world economy changed and new markets were created and new businesses entered the international competition. Companies were and they still are forced to react. In their own market they have to face competition from around the world. At the same time, to remain competitive, they need to enter into new markets. This means new strategies, new directions, new structures within the company and the bottom line is that the employees have to expect a lot of changes. This is a development which started in the 90’s and for today is more relevant than ever before. To ensure that the employees do not only participate in all the changes, but also are being motivated by it, the company needs to make sure that they understand everything. Strategies are no longer only collected in the top level of the company and then implemented. Today, the top management works together with the next upper management to make decisions for the future. The results are being then openly communicated to each and every employee. That is the theory. The practice for internal communication is designed much more difficult. “To reach all employees” does only in smaller firms mean in to invite everyone for a get-together. In other companies internal communication can only meet this requirement by using different kinds of media, which are tailored to the various internal “target groups”. Every person is differently and reacts to a different kind of information. For example, managers have different demands on information content and timing as executives or line workers and usually also another information behavior. Therefore, good internal communication uses a broad variety of media, like the classical company magazine, next to the quick intranet. It is important that those media are not only used by the corporate management and also enable other employees the participation. Letting employees have to say something, through comments, feedback or even writing articles, is very effective as well. For a better understanding it is helpful to communicate factual information in an understandable and descriptive way. Good internal communication can make a big difference on the company’s success. The employees are the once who reflect the company’s mentality to the outside world. If they are satisfied and happy, so will be the clients and customers. Therefore, the company needs to give its employees the feeling that they belong and also involve them more. Of course this is all possible with good internal communication and that is also the reason why internal communication is so important even vital for a company’s business. Bibliography123oye.com. 2010. 123 OYE. December 2010 <http://www.123oye.com/job-articles/business-corporates/internal-business-communication.htm>. bized.co.uk. 2010. Bized. November 2010 <http://www.bized.co.uk/educators/level2/comms/activity/buscomms12.htm>. Burfien, Catrin. Personal interview. 5 January 2011.
buzzle.com. 2010. Buzzle. December 2010 <http://www.buzzle.com/>. c-inside.conti.de. 2010. Continental Intranet. December 2010 <https://c-inside.conti.de>. conti-online.com. 2011. Continental AG. January 2011 <http://www.conti-online.com>. economist.com. 2010. The Economist. October 2010 <http://www.economist.com>. Kanne, Uta. Personal interview. 12 November 2010.
koeln-bonn.business-on.de. 2009. Koeln-Bonn Business. December 2010 <http://koeln-bonn.business-on.de/>. Kotler, Philip, Gary Armstrong, and Veronica Wong. Principles of marketing. 5th revised ed. Pearson Education Limited, 2008 leehopkins.net. 2006. Better Communication Results. November 2010 <http://www.leehopkins.net/2006/07/06/what-is-internal-communication/>. Neumann, Svenja. Personal interview. 6 December2010.raum-21.de. 2009. Raum 21. January 2011 <http://www.raum-21.de/interne-kommunikation-optimierte-mitarbeiterinformation.html>. wikipedia.org. 2010. Wikipedia. Oktober 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication>.