Right now, your CEO is looking around a corner and anticipating change – and the implications will be profound for internal communications. Are you ready? Make sure you’re prepared for the road ahead by asking yourself four questions…
- Am I buttoned up?
Your internal communications foundational processes and practices should be, well, your solid foundation. If you’re re-inventing the wheel with every announcement, you don’t have your blocking and tackling in place. Your objective is to have smooth internal communications operations – no matter what channels or media or tactics your organization favors. Some ways that you can set a good foundation are: articulating standards and adhering to them; documenting processes and protocols; using a traffic calendar and branded templates for efficiency; identifying metrics. You probably have more foundational practices that you can suggest. Just make sure they’re buttoned up and your operations are smooth.
- Can I go off the menu?
Once you’ve built your solid foundation, don’t let it get in your way. I’ve talked with a lot of different business people at a lot of different companies, and I’ve heard one common complaint about internal communicators: They work from a menu and tick off orders. When a business leader has an ask for something different, Internal Communications says “no,” explaining it’s not on the menu. While tried and true is good for routine mass communications (as in the blood drive announcement), your menu items might not be effective for all objectives, topics or audiences. Start with your menu, but be ready to go off it and innovate.
- Do I know who moves our business needle?
It’s a given: Effective communication is needed at every level of the organization, and yet it’s particularly important that communication is effective with your company’s key talent and influencers – the people who make a difference to the success of your business. If your internal communications approach is like smearing peanut butter on bread, how can you be sure that you’re reaching the people you need to reach? Make it your mission right now to understand your key talent and influencers, map messages and tactics, and measure their effectiveness. You’ll be ready with actionable insight into who makes your organization tick and how to reach them, when change is planned.
- Am I a teller or connector?
Internal Communications is often about disseminating information one way, but there are times for two-way communications, too. You might be thinking that this smacks of small “c” communications, employee engagement, or intranet features – and don’t those kinds of things belong to other departments? Not if you want the best of Internal Communications practices – e.g., clear messages and consistency – to be aspects of two-way communication tactics. Look for existing opportunities to foster connection and conversation, for example, leaders and employees at a town hall, managers and staff during goal setting season, a team leader and a group of volunteers. What you learn from your experiment into conversations today could become the tactic of a change communication initiative tomorrow, and you’ll be well positioned to lead it because you’ve got the partnerships in place and the chops of a connector.
These are questions that I ask myself. But you may have other and better questions that you use to prepare yourself for change. I’d welcome your suggestions.