100 Tips for Effective Internal Communications – Series # 1

Tips for effective internal communications. Why is it required? Internal communications is a thankless job and a challenging profession. There you go, I said it. Everyone in the organization has an opinion about how internal communications should do their job.

I love the passion with which the internal communication teams still go about doing their job in getting the entire organization on the same page. Make no mistake, this is one function that has enough power to change the course of any organization. And hence, the tips for effective internal communications. Here is a little something for the internal communication champions.

As the title suggests, we will talk about a ton of things to improve the effectiveness of internal communications – be it debunking myths, identifying pitfalls, understanding best practices and review some frameworks that can help you improve your internal communications – instantly or in the long-term.

So let us jump in right away and cover some basics.

 

Tip # 1 – What is communication about?

No, its not what you think.

Sorry, I didn’t even listen to you and assumed what you were going to say.

I read this somewhere recently –“communication is simply the act of transferring information from one place to another.” Wonderful, that is exactly what more than 75% of organizations are doing: one-way communication. Just like what I did without listening to you.

Here is the complete cycle of commination:

Listen -> Understand -> Validate – > Respond -> Take Feedback -> Listen

And the cycle goes on. Internal communications is about the complete cycle. If you are just doing one or two parts, its time to ask yourselves if you are doing it right and complete.

 

Tip # 2 – Who owns internal communications?

The tug-of-war continues between HR head and CMO – isn’t it? I have worked with both the structures and there’s nothing much to pick between. If you have a dedicated employee engagement role, keep the internal communications there. If not, I would tilt about 60% towards HR. The reason is simple. HR has more ears to the ground than marketing. And, ears on the ground is a very important factor for impactful communications. You don’t need a messy business of dotted line reporting, but its important for marketing and HR to collaborate well.

What is even more important is that the internal communications should have a seat at the strategy table. That is when the communication gets proactive and preemptive.

 

Tip # 3 – What is the right profile for internal communications?

This is a tough one. The best internal communications people I met are like mini-CEOs. Yes, they understand every function, communication, branding, people and most importantly the business & strategy. So don’t go looking for a person who is good at writing or design. Look for someone who is good at basics of HR, Marketing and Business Strategy. Any less, you would be looking at an order taker and not someone who can design communications.

 

Tip # 4 – Should internal communication be done in-house or outsourced?

Outsourced. There are no two-ways about it.

I am not saying this because I run an internal communications company. When done in-house, there is a danger of the teams becoming more operational and less strategic. I have seen it with several of my client’s organizations.

There are two types of work you can outsource:

  • Strategic – Here is where you get a partner onboard to do the mega surveys, design employee engagement and the internal communications calendar. Remember, these partners come with a ton of insights and why reinvent the wheel
  • Operational – Why do you want to spend your key resources in doing large events and mundane things. The partner can help you do things in half the time with double the creativity (most of the times).

Either way, it is important that you give the partner a longer rope initially so that they get the context. The internal communications partners are different from the typical marketing agencies. So, choose wisely. We will later on cover key things you need to consider while on-boarding an internal communications partner.

I will take a short-break here and return soon with the next set of tips. Meanwhile, please do drop me a note with your thoughts and feedback. I am sure you will have a point of view on some of the things said here.

I look forward to sharing the next 96 tips soon.