How well does your organisation communicate?

How often have you heard the phrase: “It’s not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it”? Good communication skills are what separate a good leader from a bad one. Therefore, having effective communication within an organisation is the KEY to successful leadership.

When you communicate effectively and efficiently with your work team, it helps to avoid issues such as misinterpretations or misunderstandings and encourages a healthy and peaceful environment. Honest and open communication with your team members will also enable you to complete your work tasks faster and more professionally.

  • Do you ask your employees what they would like to improve?
  • Do you encourage your staff to speak up about the issues they see around themselves?
  • How often do you ask your employees if the business systems work effectively?
  • Do you know if your staff / your co-workers create their own ways of doing things that might be beneficial to share with others too?
  • Does your “Issues/Risk Register” have only a few entries? – Does it really mean that your organisation is perfect or that people are afraid to talk about the issues which need to be solved?
  • How satisfied are workers with the opportunities to have a say across the organisation?
  • Do you know if your customers have been satisfied with the products and services provided by your organisation?

These and many more questions should be addressed by your regular internal meetings such as Toolbox talks, Daily HAC (Hazard Assessment and Control) Meetings / Pre-start Meetings, Management Review Meetings, Business Objectives and Targets Planning Meetings, etc.


Types of Communication

Successful organisations might be aware of the Clause 7.4 Communication requirements of the ISO 9001:2015 – Quality Management Systems Standard which states that the organisation should determine the internal and external communications relevant to the management system including what, when, with whom and how to communicate, and who the responsible person for communication is.

Internal Communication occurs within each level of the organisation – including the employees who deliver and implement information, top management and operational employees.

There are three main formats of delivering internal communication such as in person, in writing and visual form. The format is usually determined by any barriers within the business which can include the business technology, software, language issues, employees working outside the office, illiteracy etc.

The key intention of internal communication is to ensure that workers have the information to effectively execute their job.

On the other hand, External Communication occurs with anyone outside the organisation, such as customers, suppliers, subcontractors, service/maintenance providers, stakeholders or board members, for example. External communication should ensure that all relevant business interested parties are appropriately informed of information which is relevant to their interaction with the business.


Internal Communication Diagram


The benefits of defining a Communications Matrix

One of the easiest ways of formalising the business communication is to create a Communications Matrix. It‘s very likely that you already have quite a few communication processes in your business. However, you may be doing this ad hoc without following any schedule/matrix, which means that you may often forget to communicate to all necessary parties.

The benefits of the Communication Matrix are that it summarises all communication methods and it can be easily reviewed at a macro level to spot any gaps or deficiencies in communication.  This matrix can be easily developed in the form of a table with the headings as listed in the section below. Once you’ve done this, the next step is to populate it with all of your current communications that are taking place and use this matrix as your starting point. 

Communication Matrix guidelines:

a) WHAT is to be communicated. Define what is going to be the topic of communication, what information will be communicated.

b) WHEN – define the frequency / how often the information will be delivered. This may occur daily, weekly, monthly or yearly depending on the content. For instance, you may conduct your Toolbox Meetings on a weekly basis, whereas the Management Meetings might only take place quarterly.

c) WHOM the information will be communicated to. Define your audience for communication. It can simply be the existing employees, top management, a particular department or a regulator, depending on the information that is communicated.

d) HOW the information is delivered. Define the communication channels / the ways of communicating or how you’d like to share the relevant information with others. This can be face to face, through a business server, on the cloud via sharing the access rights with relevant people, via other business communication platforms, videos, written on notice boards, emails, signage etc.

e) RESPONSIBLE PERSON / Communicator – this is typically decided by the topic/item of communication – who is the person (or group) responsible for delivering the information.


Communications Matrix Extract example


Communication is a truly significant aspect of running a successful business. Developing and effectively implementing a simple structure like a Communications Matrix will enable intentional, relevant, and timely delivery of information. 

For further assistance with communication initiatives in your business contact ISO Certification Experts on 1300 614 007 and we can assist you to implement this and many other improvements for your business!

About the author

Managing Director at ISO Certification Experts

Erica is a Certified Trainer, Implementer and Auditor for ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 27001, and heads up the day-to-day operations of the business.