Developing your Internal Communications Strategy
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The Definitive Guide
Developing your Internal Communications Strategy
ContentsDeveloping your internal communications strategyHow to create a blueprintTop tipsWhere are we now?Review the current situationConducting an internal communications auditWhere do we want to be?Identifying strategic driversTools Audience identification and segmentation Key messagesChannelsHow are we going to get there?Developing the aims and objectivesCommunications planningMeasurement and evaluationFormat and structureConclusion and next steps
Developing your Internal Communications StrategyInternal communications is a function that helps leaders inform and engage employees in a way that motivates them to maximise their performance and deliver strategy effectively.Internal communications helps:Business deliver its objectivesEmployees see the connection between their jobs and organisational visionUnderstand employee engagement and what drives itManagers communicate better with their teamsIncreased productivity, innovation, customer satisfaction and employee retention
A recent Deloitte study showed that 95% of CEOs said that internal communications was important to their organisations future but only 22% thought it was delivered well.
36% of internal communicators admit to having no strategy in place.
Developing an Internal Communications StrategyEmployees are key to brand, reputation and productivity. It is not enough to tell them what the strategy and vision are, we have to equip them to deliver it through good internal communications and engagement.Change is now a constant for organisations there is no longer a steady state. Organisations are in constant flux which means they have to constantly strive for new ways to innovate, change and evolve. This poses challenges for senior leaders and therefore communicators need to shape authentic narratives and build trust.Here we tackle the subject of developing an internal communications strategy to help you elevate the profile of internal communications within your organisation and place it firmly in the sights of the leadership team.
Getting leadership and senior management to support your internal communications strategy is critical you need to show how your internal communications are supporting and delivering business objectives.
Top TipsYour IC strategy is like a blue print or roadmap it sets out your organisations journey. It should illustrate the big picture of what you want to achieve and should always link back to the organisations overall strategy.Understand the business strategy and align your strategy to it. Your objectives and measurement should be totally aligned with your business goals.Right from the outset define how you will measure success work backwards from there.
How to create a blueprint for your internal communications strategy
Research Where are we now
SWOT analysis of the current stateCommunications audit
Plan Where do we want to be
Audience identification & segmentationStakeholder mappingKey messages and message mapChannels analysis & planning
Execute How are we going to get there
Communications aims & objectivesCommunications plan
Measure How will we know we have achieved the goals
Monitoring and measuringNext stepsUse the framework below to create your internal communications blueprint.
Top TipsEnsure that your strategy is :Research based Gather knowledge and insight about the organisation for proof and to help you with evaluation. Use qualitative and quantitative research methodology e.g. people surveys, focus groups and anecdotal feedback.Employee focussed Establish what you want employees to do, think, feel or say. Put employees at the heart of your strategy.Results focussed Measurement is key to understanding what good looks like, what has worked and what has not so that you can evaluate your strategy.
Key QuestionsThe key questions you should ask yourself are:Where we are now? - This is an audit of the current situation - vital for an assessment of where you want to be.Where do we want to be? These are your objectives or aspirations.How are we going to get there? The what, how and why. This needs to include timelines, evaluation and measurement so you will know you have got there.
Where are we now?
Where are we now?Review of the current situation. It is vital to conduct research about what you are currently doing and where you are in order to make an assessment of where you want to be.Conduct a communications audit - this is all about listening and will give you the raw material to craft the strategy.Review key documents to make strategic links back to communications:Existing business strategyVision, values & missionDivisional strategiesPeople surveysReview your organisationChallengesOpportunitiesFuture trendsConduct a SWOT analysis
Where are we now?Review the prevailing organisational culture in terms of: ValuesVisionBeliefsNormsShared set of beliefs the way things are done around hereReview the prevailing management styles:Which are dominant in the organisation?What are the characteristics of this style and what are the implications on that style for change and communications?Carry out surveys, 1:1 interviews, focus groups with senior leaders, management and employees to corroborate information found and reviewed in the where are we now phase.Conduct further research to ascertain any information gaps and fill these.
Top Tips Conducting an Internal Communications AuditThe point of an audit is to ask and then listen. An audit will give you some of the raw material you need to develop the strategy.Listening can take place in a number of different formats the most effective tend to be:Focus groups qualitative data. Deeper dive into the survey questions. Recruit between 10-15 participants and ensure good coverage of demographics.Employee surveys - quantitative data. Ask questions which give hard data. Keep the questions short and unambiguous.Executive interviews Assessment of leadership opinions get their views, test your ideas and find out what they are prepared to do.Collect and evaluate past communications What are the goals and objectives for the communications? Are the communications conveying the information staff need in the way they want to receive it? Are the communications clear and consistent? Are the communications harnessing action? What communications opportunities are missing?Evaluate channels Are the channels effective? Have a range been used? Are you achieving two-way dialogue as well as information dissemination? Are the channels optimal for the message? Assess what you should stop, start and continue.
Where do we want to be ?
Where do we want to be?Begin with the end in mind. This is where you will set out your aspirations. It requires looking at the strategic drivers:Hard strategic drivers = corporate plan, business plan, strategies HR, People, OD, Marketing, Customer ServicesSoft strategic drivers = vision, mission, brand, strategic narrativeYou will need to make connections with these strategic drivers and ascertain how the IC strategy can deliver on these. You will need to establish how you can help create an environment through communications and engagement where these strategies can flourish and deliver the desired outcomes.
Tools to help you determine where you want to be
Communications GridEvaluate activities and place them on the communications grid to determine their impact on the organisation and identify if you are allocating the right resources to the right activities.IMPROVEPerformance / ImpactImportanceREDUCE COSTSMAINTAIN & IMPROVEREDUCE COSTS OR STOPHighHighLow
Audience identification & segmentationThere are a variety of ways to segment your audience. Segmentation allows to tailor your messages to your audiences.There are a number of criteria by which you can segment:
DemographicsEngagement levels & attitudesEmployee life cycleJob roleManagement responsibilityChannel preferenceBehaviour
Stakeholder mapping Active consultationKeep Satisfied have sufficient engagement to satisfy them that their voices are heard. Avoid low value contact so that they do not lose interest.InterestInfluenceMaintain interestKeep regularly informed use two way communication. Maintain interest and monitor issues and concerns. These stakeholders are potential advocates & ambassadors.Key playerManage closely need strong buy in from these individuals. Fully engage and make greatest effort to satisfy concerns and requirements for information.Keep informedMonitor keep informed but do not overload with excessive information or superfluous Information.Use this model to map your stakeholders against influence and interest. Use this to determine how to prioritise your stakeholder engagement efforts.
People PortraitGeneralVital StatisticsHow many people are like this? Trends, indices and comparisons.Who they areKey facts age, gender, ethnic group, job role requirements, location, grade, length of serviceGeneral attitudes to workLevels of engagement, key priorities, motivators, communication preferences.Our insight task / issueBehaviour: what they do Behaviour triggers, barriers, place of doing, how frequently, signals of things working/not workingNeedsRational, functional, emotional, hidden needsPassion pointsLoves, hates, pleases, displeases, must haves, key words, languageBeliefs and attitudesThoughts, beliefs, attitudes, what makes them feel good or badUse this tool to identify key traits for your audiences and how to best communicate with them.
Your audienceChoosing the correct channel includes thinking about who your audience or audiences are. Different audiences may need to be reache