Brainstorming an Internal Communication Strategy
It's time to embrace honesty when it comes to effective internal communications. strategy. What employee feedback have you received? Those exact terms may not have been used.
Think about all the ways people express communication dissatisfaction.
"I do not remember seeing that in an email."
"I cannot find that anywhere."
"What is the rule on XYZ?"
"I have no idea what is going on."
"I am not sure, ask XYZ."
Of course, these could be excuses or indicators of other issues. But at the core, the deficiency is communication with employees.
When you've got a list of complaints ... or even better if you have access to a complaint box, start identifying the problems these complaints stem from.
These complaints point to how this strategy is currently impacting customer culture. There is no such thing as a no-impact approach to communication.
If a strategy exists, it has an impact. If no strategy exists, that has an impact! It's also worthwhile to collaborate with internal communications teams.
What trends are they seeing? What concerns do they have? With their finger constantly on the company pulse, they'll offer some great insights.
Creating a New Strategy
Consider your target audiences. That's a marketing mantra that everyone knows. If you're trying to reach wealthy, elderly men in the market for diamonds, a witty TikTok probably isn't the best way to do it.
The same thing goes for your work 'audiences'. Are you trying to talk to mid-level managers, and what does that demographic look like? Or are you trying to amp up your onboarding communications? What about conversing with key stakeholders?
Let's say your goals are broad. You want to spend 2021 revamping the way your company talks to each employee.
You need to start with a method for top-down communication. If the CEO is sitting on a distant throne, there's no personal connection. If your company is a sprawling corporate entity, new employees might not even know the CEO's name.
Top-down communication is usually reserved for new strategies, changes, or initiatives that affect the entire company equally. Change announcements and onboarding communications can also be categorized as top-down.
Choosing a Communication Channel
What communication channels should be used to do this? It depends on the tone you're going for.
Many businesses learned a lot about communication, internally and externally, in 2020. Now's the time to apply all that knowledge to a new year.
If it's safe for employees to come back to the office, face-to-face interactions can't be replaced. Use this method when tone means everything, when you may have a difficult conversation, or when you're trying to initiate big changes.
Of course, all face-to-face conversation doesn't have to be particularly scary. It's also more efficient. And if you're not capable of bringing employees back to the office, Zoom meetings can help duplicate the experience.
If there are details that must be memorized, such as event dates, times, and places, handouts are great. They can be easily referenced or pinned above someone's desk.
Videos are fast becoming a popular top-down communication tool. It's like receiving a casual FaceTime from a friend and can cultivate familiarity.
If you're trying to tell a story or build a personal connection with a high-level executive communicating to the entire company, video is the appropriate tool.
Email isn't obsolete yet, which means this tool should be used to cover minute strategy details. Avoid the temptation to Reply All, and you'll likely succeed.
2020 taught us the value of remote messaging tools. Slack, Skype, Discord - shooting off a quick message clarifies details fast. It's less time-consuming than an email, and also helps build camaraderie.
When surveyed, employees stated that they preferred regular small meetings with their manager. No one feels seen in huge company-wide meetings, and it's hard to cover all the questions that might crop up.
Here are the primary steps thus far.
1. Conduct an audit of your current internal communications systems
2. Identify problems by listening to complaints
3. Identify the best comms channels to tackle gaps with
Once you've done all that, what next? You need to establish clear expectations. 65% of employees say that internal information provided by the company isn't comprehensive enough.
That sort of problem can hobble your new strategy before it actually launches.
Whether you're trying to set individual New Year's resolutions or help transform your company, the principle of SMART goals is still the same.
S stands for specific—there should be an overabundance of clarity on what you're trying to achieve
M means measurable, so embrace numbers
A equals attainable, so don't veer outside the company's budget or personnel resources
R stands for relevant, which means that just because a tool is glossy, doesn't mean it relates to your company's mission
T stands for time, which you need to be conscious of if you want to make 2021 your best year yet
Who's in Charge?
Once you set SMART employee communication strategy goals, it's time to assign responsibility. You can have a world-class strategy in the works, but it will likely fail if it isn't placed in motion.
This will also help you navigate the communication process. There's nothing more demoralizing than doing work and seeing it have no impact.
The most senior members of your company should review the plan. Then, they can promote it to the team. This is a great chance to initiate that top-down communication!
Once it's been introduced to the company at large, all eyes are on your new strategy. Will the company pull through and make big changes? Or is this just another case of big talk and no action?
After the initial announcement has been made, mid-level managers come in. Think of them as customer service representatives! They'll be your boots on the ground, implementing new ways of communicating directly with their teams.
Be wary at this step, though. After the initial thrill of execution, this is the ground where great strategies go to die. You'll need to keep a finger on the patient's pulse.
To learn even more about improving the employee experience and increasing your competitive advantage while providing a fast return on investment, download our ebook now.
Reviewing Performance Metrics
How will you know if your new strategy is working? Metrics. There are a few great options to measure how employees are engaging with these tactics.
Companies have reported $37 billion in losses due to employees suffering from poor communication or misunderstandings. The stakes are high, so here's how to ensure that you're nailing it.
In some ways, gauging internal interest is no different than a marketing campaign. You'll need to treat it just like that and live by the numbers.
When miscommunication errors drop, positive numbers should go up. Productivity and profits should increase because hours are no longer wasted looking for information that isn't there.
And when employees are working in a transparent, high-energy environment, they're excited to be there. That means they're reaching out to their networks and encouraging them to come work there.
If you're actively hiring, referral rates should rise when compared to what they were in previous numbers. On this note, turnover and safety incidents should also drop.
One of the best ways to track employee engagement, though, is to look at the numbers. Especially if you have your own employees-only social networks, you can see what's happening.
What emails and posts are being opened? Are posts being liked, commented on, or clicked on?
If an employees-only network is new, you won't have old numbers to compare to. That's okay! Compare it to the total number of employees in each team, or at the entire company. With the right tools, it isn't hard.
When in Doubt, Ask
Isn't that what you tell new employees during the first days of onboarding? That's savvy advice no matter how long you've been with the company.
Honesty is the cornerstone of communication, and it should always be a two-way street. So what does that mean? Ask employees about new initiatives.
When you first asked for complaints, what changes did they hope to see? Is the company's new approach what they wanted, or is it just more frustration heaped on them?
The act of listening will help you course-correct better than any numbers will.
This guide was designed to help you navigate through those difficult tasks and help determine the right software for your organization, download our ebook now.
Crafting a World-Class Strategy
Whether you're an engineer, a graphic designer, or a content marketer, communication is everything. It's how we make sense of the world, translate it to our work product, and share it with our colleagues and a broader audience.
Everyone has to communicate. So taking on the act of creating an internal communication strategy, something that shapes every facet of someone's career, can be incredibly daunting.
Don't be intimidated. Instead, reach out and request a demo today to learn how we can identify problems in your organization and fix them.
About Author: This article is written by a marketing team member at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of proven HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee communications & engagement, and rewards & recognition. Our user-friendly software increases employee productivity, delivers time and cost savings, and minimizes compliance risk.