What is Internal Communications?
A little bit of HR mixed with marketing and spiced up with some psychology and sociology; an area with strategically important business value; a complex machine that is operated by all members of an organization, regardless of their position or level… But what exactly are we talking about?
Even though internal communications – internal comms, or “IC” for short – is not easy to define, it is a very important part of running a succesful business and / or organization. Just think about the many ways you participate in internal communications each and every day: you talk with your colleagues, receive feedback from your boss, hear about a company event, undergo some kind of corporate change, read about your workplace’s strategy and vision – and as a result of all these, you’ll either go home motivated or weary on the end of the day.
Large organization = problematic internal comms? ?
It might seem evident that the bigger organization we’re talking about, the more complex it’s IC operation will get, separated by job role differences (employee-management, different project teams, departments, etc.) and physical barriers (multiple floors, buildings, campuses) as well. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that a startup company of ten colleagues is 100% efficient with IC: even if all members can gather around a ping pong table, difficulties and information gaps may still arise due to the lack of good working communication processes.
The key in both cases is deliberate, consistent attention to corporate communications. Identify the areas that are working well in your organization, assess those where you still have room for improvement and think about the ideal state you’d like to reach – then you can start going there with small steps, even just by changing one little thing at a time. Remember: even the smallest nudge can induce company-level changes on the long run if handed properly.
Take internal all-staff e-mails as an example: having a KPI of increasing open rates by 10% might seem like a barely noticeable improvement, but think about it – it means that instead of every fifth person (20%), nearly third (30%) of all employees will be informed about organizational changes or teambuilding events. More well-informed colleagues & happier atmosphere at the workplace – that’s what I call success!
How should I know what’s working well…? ?
It’s easy to say “Okay, I’ll pay attention to internal comms from now on..“, but it’s a bit harder to plan ahead, take steps and actually start doing it. To provide some assistance with the first few steps, I’ve collected some questions that could help evaluate the current level of internal communications at your workplace.
• Who is primarily responsible for the internal communications of your company? Who supports him / her?
• Does your company have a short- or long-term internal communications strategy?
• What channels do you use for internal comm purposes?
• How structured are your internal campaign planning processes? What challenges do you face in the implementation phase?
• What metrics and tools do you use to measure the effectiveness of internal communications? What are your goals and KPIs?
• Do you receive any kind of qualitative feedback regarding your corporate communications?
• How creative and innovative would you rate you communication materials (e.g. newsletters, posters, e-mails)?
The good news is that all of these topics will be covered later on in my blog, so keep on reading, I’ll try to share as many personal experiences, practical tips and insights as possible. My goal is to make internal communications a more acknowledged, more respected business function – thankfully it’s full of exciting topics and areas, so I’m sure we’ll have no problems with that!