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5 Questions to Ask About Your Internal Communication Strategy

1. What do you need your people to know?

This is about business strategy and leadership. To lead a safe, productive, growing business, what do your people need to know from you, or from leadership more generally? What information is going to help align and engage them with the company vision and direction? What will make the work environment safer, more engaging, and deliver happier customers? This is all about you knowing from the top of the organization what you need your people to know to stay aligned with the direction, understand priorities, and deliver to your customers.


2. What do your people want to know?

Knowing what your people want to know and delivering it is crucial to engagement. It’s different than just what you want or need them to know. It’s about culture-building and empathy – and it starts with listening and knowing your people. What do they want to hear from their manager? From the CEO? Who else do they want to hear from? What questions or concerns do they have? Do they want updates on the market, business strategy, acquisitions? Do they care about overall performance and the success of the business so they feel a part of something bigger? Strategic internal communication must be two-way and engage the wants and needs of both your people and company leadership.


3. What do your people want/need you to know?

To reiterate, communication is two-way, not just in the nature and value of the content exchanged but also in who gets to initiate it. So, in your company, who gets to share information? Request information? Seek/give feedback? Report on or provide updates on success stories? Challenges? Who listens? Your people need avenues to communicate with leadership, to know they have been heard, and to know it matters. If they are going to own the vision and mission of the company and the execution of the strategy, your people have to feel like they matter and their perspectives are heard and respected.


4. What are you willing to change?

Poor communication leads to low engagement. Low engagement leads to communication problems. It’s a self-reinforcing spiral. So, if that’s what is happening, something has to change. What is it? What are you willing to stop that you know isn’t working? What communication workflows need to be evaluated? What roles and expectations of leaders and managers must change? Communication both creates and is a function of organizational structure and design. So, if you want to change communication, then you should be willing to change these. Another new channel, a new meeting, new FTE, or new piece of technology on top of the same old practices probably won’t do it.


5. Why does it matter?

If you are going to invest in change and expend your leadership capital to do so, you need a plan to articulate and promote “why” and then capture and report on the results. Can you reduce the volume of emails? Can you eliminate technologies or practices you know aren’t working anyway? Can you create new feedback channels? Communication impacts everything you do. So, pick short-term metrics that you and your people value and strategically align your communication change efforts to improve them. In the mid and long terms, you can then track lagging metrics like reduced turnover, increased engagement, higher productivity, increased safety and the like.


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