Aug 2019
Mins read

9 Steps to Create an Internal Communication Strategy that Flies

9 Steps to get your internal communication strategy off the ground.

The impact of business growth on internal communication

Throughout the initial growth of a business, the internal communication strategy is uncomplicated and works a little like this: “We talk a lot, and everyone is across everything."

People inside the business hold intimate knowledge and experience across the different operations of the company. They continuously interact to achieve outcomes. Email, Onedrive, and Slack become the primary tools to communicate and distribute work.

This uncomplicated system of communication changes once the business expands. Employees no longer have direct access to the founders. Layers of managers separate them, and their voice is not needed anymore in decision making.

The business is a sea of new faces, and the tight-knit team begins to unravel. The employee, brand, culture, and performance of the company start to slip. The only way to restabilize employee trust is to introduce a sound internal communication strategy, which strengthens engagement and generates a more positive employee brand perception.

If you don’t have an internal communication strategy then we’ve got nine steps to get you there.

So let’s dive in and whip up an internal communication plan to win everyone over. First, you’ll want to build the case for your internal communication strategy.

Build your case for an internal communication strategy

1. Write the vision

Start by producing a vision for your internal communication and tie it to your brand's core purpose, values, and culture. What that looks like is up to you, make it real and relevant to your company. Some of these questions will help you brainstorm.

  • What do you aspire or envision your workplace, and internal communication to be in the future?
  • Which teams, departments or business units do you want to involve in the communication strategy?
  • What is the essence of your internal communication? Use three words to describe it? (e.g., transparent, informative, multi-way communication)
  • How would this vision impact the future of your company and align with its purpose?

2. Collect data

Now you'll want to understand the current perception employees have of the way the business currently communicates. Is the business providing tools for teams and individuals so they can effectively communicate? Do employees feel informed concerning new initiatives, developments, and changes happening throughout the company?

The only way to find out is to conduct a survey or run a 30-minute workshop with key stakeholders from across the organization and gather some metrics.

  • Metrics to consider include:
  • Employee Engagement survey
  • Internal Communications survey
  • Employee Retention rate
  • Measure Recall rate of internal messages
  • ENPS - Employee net promoter score

With this data, you’ll know where your communication gaps are between how the business would like to be perceived and how it is perceived.

3. Identify key issues

Now that you have the results from your survey, you should have a list of communication challenges.

You’ll want to rank the maturity and the severity of the communication issues. Listing the maturity of the problem is simple. Is the problem new, developing, or mature?

Does it impact employees and customers negatively? Rank how severe the impact is from a low, medium, or high score.

With this data, you can confidently build the case and present your findings to executives. Some questions that may help include:

  • Who it impacts?
  • How and why it is affecting the internal reputation of the business based on survey results. Include data if possible, data is indisputable.
  • You can present your findings to management and agree on the diagnosis and have some rough ideas for how you will solve it. Gain approval to move forward with the next phase, which is to set the objectives.

4. Set communication objectives

Now you have numbers, priorities and approval from executives. The next step is to document how you’ll treat the problem.

Detail what the aim of the communication is, and what problem it will solve. Analyze if you are trying to change employee behaviors, shape attitudes, inform and influence, or help employees to be more productive. Just make sure your objectives follow the S.M.A.R.T. method.

Here is an example of a communication objective using the S.M.A.R.T. method:  “Our internal communication strategy will target our Customer Service and Support teams to change attitudes about first contact customer resolution. We estimate we'll reduce the number of complaints from customers by 20% and improve the performance of our customer teams within 6 to 12 months”.

5. Measure performance

Decide how you’ll gauge the success of your strategy. Clicks, views, and downloads offer some good indicators, but how do you know if internal communication is producing the desired results. To determine your metrics, ask yourself, “what the conversation is trying to achieve” and then match metrics that can demonstrate it.

Other ways to measure can include if people :

  • Received, recognized and can recall the message.
  • Engaged with the content - posting comments and likes.
  • Adopted new behaviors as a result of the communication messages. For instance, in Healthcare, your goal is to decrease the risk of nurses acquiring infection through bloodborne pathogens. You want nurses to change their behavior and wear protective eyewear when working with blood. In this instance, you’d measure if your communication had an impact on nurses adopting the practice and if it’s reducing the number of incidents.
  • Are shifting their views or attitudes based on the communication you delivered.
  • Leads to an increase in performance results, for example, higher efficiency, quality, safety or outputs,
  • Measure the reputation of the brand internally before and after the campaign.

6. Distinguish your target audiences

Decide who within your organization, you are trying to target with your message. Depending on your goal, it might be every employee, or you might narrow it down to a specific team or region. If you know your audience, you can produce a more powerful message that triggers action.

You can segment your audiences using any of the following categories:

  • Role
  • Team
  • Department
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Expertise
  • Experience

7. Detect message categories

When considering your internal communication messaging, it should align with your brand experience. Reflect on the tone of your message, ask yourself is it formal or informal or a mix of both. Other areas to consider when creating your messaging include:

  • Some of the best messages are in small bites. Read or spoken in 30 secs or less.
  • Verbal, Images, Video, Written, Audio.
  • Addresses the benefits 'why.'
  • Simple, easy to understand language - leave the jargon behind.
  • Use an active voice, not a passive voice in the message. It adds energy.

8. Establish the Channels

Channels are the tools you use to deliver the message and reach your audiences. The most optimal channel is one that lets you collect feedback from its viewers and supports open communication. Print channels have their place, but digital channels are more effective at leveraging two-way communication. It’s time to document the channels you’ll use to reach your internal audience.

Channels can be broken down into 3 themes:

Corporate communication

These channels push information out to the organization and can take the form of digital and print forms. Some examples include newsletters, social platforms, intranets, email, mobile apps, signage, document management, and press releases.

Team communication

Digital tools to expedite conversation around work and promote employee voice.

Some examples include Intranet, instant messaging tools, mobile work apps and learning management tools to facilitate training.

Person to Person communication

Person to Person channels allows direct communication between individuals, groups, and scales to enable broad engagement and encourage larger conversation across the organization.

Some examples include Intranet, instant messaging tools, mobile work apps, town hall meetings, video meetings, and text messages.

9. Amplify your message

Next, to consider is the type of content you’ll use. Will it consist of signage, videos, digital news features, documents, display announcements/banners?

Frequency is also important. The rate at which most managers communicate is too low, according to an excellent article on the Medium, titled, 'How to Improve Communication Frequency With your Remote team'.

They studied the communication frequency between managers and teams in different locations and what impact it had. One manager was an outlier he communicated with his team more than six times a day and as a result, his team had the highest morale out of all teams. When planning your content it's worth thinking about how you can repurpose it so you get the message out in different ways and more often.

As an example content can take many forms including:

  • News stories - product releases, project stories, social and corporate responsibility features or wins
  • Email newsletters targeted to audiences
  • Signage inside the organization
  • Team directory to connect people
  • Video welcome messages to new employees
  • Post and share team or department news
  • Post and share product ideas and get feedback
  • Post video training or interviews
  • Communicate the value behind work processes. Setup automated workflows, forms and notifications
  • Post and Share articles and guides
  • Start a topic of the week discussion on your mobile app
  • Post alerts about work safety to onsite teams utilizing mobile app notifications
  • Podcasts
  • Training Checklists

Internal communication move from strategy to action

Your internal communications strategy is proof you take employee experience and communication seriously. The result is employees know they’re valued and their voice matters, which inspires stronger bonds and reciprocity across teams, managers, and leaders.

You’ve mastered the nine steps, and we salute you because you’re making progress towards increased communication. To help you transform your strategy into action, CentricMinds has the tools. With CentricMinds Team Engagement Features employees can make some noise and effortlessly post news, campaigns, videos, promote special events, start topic discussions, run surveys, like and comment on content, drag and drop files, post blogs, wikis and create team spaces.

Try our Intranet Software for yourself

Effective internal communication starts one conversation at a time. So contact CentricMinds today and learn how we can help you increase your dialogue at work, or start a free trial of our Intranet software today.