In the day-to-day work of internal communications, it is easy to get lost in the details. While expending all your energy on the need-to-know announcement of the week and finishing your routine internal communications programs, it’s important not to forget the big picture. The immediate work is important and you have pressing deadlines, so consider how to balance your routine work in service of larger, overarching objectives. Most communications can serve more than one purpose.
Remember, your employee communications team is not made up of “order takers,” but drivers of business objectives. Whether you plan it intentionally or not, your communications are going to accomplish these three things.
1. Establish business goals.
Engaging employees isn’t something that just happens, and there is no trickery, bribery or shiniest new tool that makes it happen. It comes by making a real connection with employees, who then buy into your organization’s business goals. When they become believers, they are engaged. Employees will read between the lines. So embedded within your announcements of the day, news of the week or messages from executives, your messages will answer important employee questions such as, “What are we all working toward?” and, “How do I fit into the big picture” or, “How do I understand what’s happening?” When communicators are not intentional, employees will create their own answers. When news is irrelevant, when strategy is unclear, when management is not open and honest, employees have their communicators can answer these questions intentionally and often, always pointing towards your objective. Harvard Business Review describes this as inspiring employees to “have the brand vision.” “The messages should be directed at employee ‘touch-points,’ the day-to-day interactions that influence the way people experience the workplace,” HBR suggests. This shows you can exert more influence in the email you send every day
2. Frame employee mindset.
Graham Erickson, chief strategy officer for digital agency Modus, wrote on Monster.com that internal communication “should be rooted in an open, company-wide dialogue.” That doesn’t mean you want reply-all discussions on every email you send, but you should ask for and enable feedback. Communicators must understand how messages are being received and understood by various audiences, then adjusting messaging based on that feedback. One big-picture goal is to establish a positive employee attitude. Regular employee feedback from measurement tools, employee surveys, focus groups, one-on-one meetings, impromptu polls or other methods will establish a learning environment for both sides. It will let employees know their opinions and ideas have value. Plus, it will help communicators make better decisions on the targeting, tools, channels, language and word selection to meet your audience and objectives. By offering employees information they prefer to consume, you’re not just getting them on board with your brand vision, you’re getting them excited about it.
3. Drive behavior. A strong communications strategy has valuable benefits, David Grossman of communications firm The Grossman Group writes. Employees and managers will be more plugged into the ecosystem of the organization. They’ll understand each other better. And that will lead to a culture of continuous improvement. “When they see you making that extra effort, they’ll do the same,” Grossman writes. “By moving away from lip service and toward positive action, you drive positive business results.” How employees think will determine how they act. When you share stories of other employees taking a hero’s journey and accomplishing something of value, whether for themselves or the business, you reflect company values, the benefits of participation and model behavior. This does more than just get out the company news. It makes a difference.
Communications will influence deliberately or aimlessly. If that announcement you’re being asked to produce can’t be made to serve the broader picture, perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it. Routinely reinforcing your key messages and business objectives, even within seemingly mundane communications, will create positive change in your organization.
Author: Michael DesRochers