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5 Questions You Should Ask About Your Company’s Internal Communication

1. What do you need your people to know?

This is about business strategy. For you to lead a safe, productive, successful business, what do your people need to know from you, or about the business more generally? What information is going to help align and engage people at all levels with the vision and direction of your company? What will make the work environment physically and emotionally safer and deliver happier customers and clients? Being thoughtful about what your people need to know to do their jobs well is foundational to your communication strategy.

2. What do your people want to know?

Knowing what information your people want to know and delivering it is crucial to their engagement. It’s about professional respect, and starts with listening to them. Do your people care about hearing from the CEO or CMO? What messages are most meaningful from the top? Do they want updates on policy changes or other issues impacting your market? Do they care about overall performance of the company? Do they want to feel a part of something bigger? (Answer: yes) Are they looking for personal and professional growth opportunities? Strategic internal communication has to be two-way and engage the wants and needs of both the company and its people.

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. It’s about listening as much as it is about talking, posting, sending, and faxing. So, at your company, who gets to share information? Request information? Seek/give feedback? Report on or provide updates on successes? Challenges? Who listens? Your people need avenues to communicate with company leadership, to know they have been heard, and to know it matters. If they are going to engage in delivering the vision and mission of your company, then they have to have a sense of ownership in leading it.

4. What are you willing to change?

Poor communication leads to low engagement. Low engagement creates communication problems. It’s a vicious circle. So, something has to change. What is it? What are you willing to stop that you know isn’t working? What are you wasting time, energy, FTEs and money on? What workflows need to be evaluated? What roles and expectations must be clarified? What roles and expectations must change? Communication both creates and is a function of staffing and workflow models. So, if you want to change communication, then you must be willing to change these. Another new channel, new FTE, or new piece of technology on top of the same old practices simply 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 reduce team stress or frustration? Can you create new feedback channels? Can you increase the sense of connection and engagement among your people? Communication impacts everything you do. So, pick short-term metrics that you 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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