Don’t Overlook the Value of Internal Communication!

One of the frequently, and unfortunately, overlooked audiences for many organizations is employees. They are the “first line of defense” for ensuring that your key messages are accurately and energetically conveyed to external audiences. Yet, many organizations fail to effectively enlist employees in these efforts.

I had a conversation recently with another communication professional who was asking whether I thought internal newsletters still play a role in effective employee communication. I do. But, with an important caveat–just as with any other form of communication the effectiveness will be predicated on a clear understanding of goals and objectives, and the ability to effectively connect with the target audience–in this case employees. Sometimes internal newsletters are the right communication tactic; sometimes they’re not.

Any communication initiative–whether with internal or external audiences–needs to start with a solid understanding of your goals/objectives — what is it you are attempting to accomplish with this newsletter? This may be a combination of things ranging from educating/informing employees about specific issues, positively impacting employee engagement/satisfaction, etc. Whatever the goals/objectives, they should be measurable and you should start with a baseline in terms of where you are right now.

So, for instance, if your objective is to improve employee engagement, you would want to quantify current levels of engagement (this could be done through a simple survey), or maybe use a proxy such as turnover to put a stake in the ground. These goals are important. Any communication effort involves resources — time and money; businesses of any size are concerned about using their resources wisely. By clearly identifying desired goals and objectives, and measuring outcomes you can determine whether these efforts are having their desired impact.

Another key point–take time to find out what employees are interested in and to evaluate your perceptions of what they know/don’t know. Sometimes we jump to conclusions about employees’ interests and understanding and our communications can be off the mark. Here’s a process we recommend when working with clients on internal communication issues:

  • Start with your overall organizational goals and objectives.
  • Make a list of what employees need to know in order to most effectively help you achieve those goals and objectives.
  • Add to that list any misconceptions or misunderstanding that you feel employees may have
  • Test your assumptions–find out what employees know and believe; this can be done in a variety of ways from formal surveys to focus groups to casual discussion
  • Identify and prioritize the key areas where you need to communicate more effectively
  • Develop a plan to convey your messages through a variety of media–including internal newsletters
  • Monitor and measure to determine whether you made an impact

Communication, with any audience, isn’t just “nice to do” — it’s a “need to do” effort that should be based on specifically identified outcomes, audience needs and interests and a carefully designed plan to help achieve those outcomes.

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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