The secret to internal communication

“The pace of change has never been this fast…but it will never be this slow again.”

That’s a quote from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who acknowledged at last year’s World Economic Forum that along with the great technological breakthroughs that enhance our lives, comes an anxiety – especially from employees – about the implications of labour saving automation and artificial intelligence on their employment future.

This anxiety is one of the reasons we’ve seen a marked increase in enquiry about internal communication strategy in the last year, from large corporations and government organisations, as well as small to medium businesses.

Many of these enquiries start by seeking a tactical communication solution – a quick fix to increase transparency, build team cooperation and “keep everyone in the loop”.

Typically businesses with a 21st century mojo are stepping their way through a confusing minefield of digital internal communication solutions…Slack, Trello, Troop Messenger, Hip Chat, Twist, Campfire, Flock, Skype… the list goes on.

While all of these online solutions offer opportunities for real time team public chat and/or private conversations, as well as sharing news and ideas and managing projects, they are the cart before the digital horse.

Internal communication is no different to external communication – you must decide why you want to communicate and what you want to communicate before you start thinking about tactics.

Set a goal

So let’s start at the very beginning – what is your goal for an internal communication strategy? Is it to harness the loyalty of millennial employees and improve retention? Is it to increase sales and profitability by building a winning culture? Is it to improve the quality of customer service? Or perhaps it is to drive a team culture that is more united and has a shared purpose?

As New York employee relationship agency Staffbase suggests, it could be to drive purpose, remain in control of the message, empower middle management or prepare millennials for promotion.

Whatever the reason, you need to be clear about it. There’s no point setting your financial goals every year if you don’t revisit and refresh your communication goals.

Define the objectives

It’s all very well to set a big picture goal for your strategy, but how will you measure it? Defining measurable objectives that can be benchmarked and tracked annually means your strategy is both relevant and viable and more likely to get support from the Board.

In a large organisation where employee engagement needs to be measured objectively, it might be wise to set a baseline through a survey that sets an Employee Net Promoter Score.

Alternatively, you may already have the benchmark information tools at your fingertips. The number of sick days staff take (in a workplace that has never been healthier) could be a sign of disengagement; retention could be measured (and rewarded) in annual anniversaries, or there is the crude measure of profitability per team member.