Effective communications is the "life's blood" of an organization. Organizations that are highly successful have strong communications. One of the first signs that an organization is struggling is that communications have broken down. The following guidelines are very basic in nature, but comprise the basics for ensuring strong ongoing, internal communications.
1. Have all employees provide weekly written status reports to their supervisors
Include what tasks were done last week, what tasks are planned next week, any pending issues and date the report. These reports may seem a tedious task, but they're precious in ensuring that the employee and their supervisor have mutual understanding of what is going on, and the reports come in very handy for planning purposes. They also make otherwise harried employees stand back and reflect on what they're doing.
2. Hold monthly meetings with all employees together
Review the overall condition of the organization and review recent successes. Consider conducting "in service" training where employees take turns describing their roles to the rest of the staff. For clarity, focus and morale, be sure to use agendas and ensure follow-up minutes. Consider bringing in a customer to tell their story of how the organization helped them. These meetings go a long way toward building a feeling of teamwork among staff.
3. Hold weekly or biweekly meetings with all employees together if the organization is small (e.g., under 10 people); otherwise, with all managers together
Have these meetings even if there is not a specific problem to solve -- just make them shorter. (Holding meetings only when there are problems to solve cultivates a crisis-oriented environment where managers believe their only job is to solve problems.) Use these meetings for each person to briefly give an overview of what they are doing that week. Facilitate the meetings to support exchange of ideas and questions. Again, for clarity, focus and morale, be sure to use agendas, take minutes and ensure follow-up minutes. Have each person bring their calendar to ensure scheduling of future meetings accommodates each person's calendar.
4. Have supervisors meet with their direct reports in one-on-one meetings every month
This ultimately produces more efficient time management and supervision. Review overall status of work activities, hear how it's going with both the supervisor and the employee, exchange feedback and questions about current products and services, and discuss career planning, etc. Consider these meetings as interim meetings between the more formal, yearly performance review meetings.