Internal Communications

How Internal Communication Strategies Boost Employee Engagement

How Internal Communication Strategies Boost Employee Engagement 761 489 VP Legacies

Of the many formulas that contribute to the growth of an organization, one of them is employee engagement. Employee engagement indicates the potential for a company’s long term success because it understands the value of employee satisfaction and retention. In recent years, more and more people are exploring engagement as revenue drivers – recent studies show 71% of executives cite employee engagement as a primary concern for growth.

You might be wondering how to drive employee engagement in your company: the answer is through internal communication. Communication serves as the driving force behind keeping the morale of employees high. It gives them the reassurance that what they do matters and keeps the spark of emotional stakes alive. 

Internal communication entails treating the employees with respect and letting them know that they all contribute value to the company. Modes of communication are vital pathways to achieving your bottom line, and when they’re thoughtful and well-forged, they can also boost employee morale and help everyone feel connected. As long as employees are kept in the loop, given regular feedback, and exposed to a high degree of transparency, employee engagement will stay high. At VP Legacies, we keep internal communication with real personal connections in mind with every learning module we create for our company. Here’s why and how internal communication can boost employee engagement.

Related: What to Include In an Internal Communication Plan

Why is Internal Communication Important for Employee Engagement?

Reports suggest that 85% of the employees around the world don’t feel engaged at work. This could be due to reasons like not being copied on emails or receiving vague information, which makes them feel left out or disconnected from their work environment. This is where the importance of internal communication steps in. 

Here are some of the reasons why internal communications and employee engagement are strongly linked:

  • Open communication between the manager and the employees makes them feel valued. 37% of employees have confessed that being recognized for their work is the best way to feel supported and respected.

As a company, you should make your employees feel comfortable enough to go to management in case they encounter an issue. Employees should also know that managers are being upfront with them regarding current information about the company. Managers should create a connective environment that allows the employees to share professional intimacies with them, be it concerns about the company or concerns related to the industry. 

  • When the internal communication between the employees and the management is poor, employees can feel anxious and distracted. This causes a disconnect between the employees and the company, leading them to hold back key insights from their fellow workers, who in turn feeling withdrawn from their work and the team. 
  • Internal communication encourages conversations between people from various departments. This allows goals to be reached more quickly, as people feel free to interact with one another in case they need help with their respective work. 

If the in-house departments don’t coordinate with each other, the efficiency and rate of progress slows down. This in turn causes work to feel mechanical for most employees, and that’s the last thing you want as an organization.

Related: Internal Communication Best Practices

How to Use Internal Communication Strategies to Increase Employee Engagement

Boosting employee engagement through internal communication is something more and more organizations are formally trying. Some of the ways in which you can accomplish that are as follows:

  1. Make the Company’s Goals and Objectives Visible

Publish the goals you have for your company so that your employees can view them at all times. This allows you to approach your employees from a transparent perspective. When an employer’s goals are transparent, employees tend to find it easier to understand, and therefore work towards achieving that goal.

Clear goals help in improving productivity and performance around the workplace. When your employees know that their contribution aids in the growth of the company, they feel responsible and motivated enough to work harder. 

Find a course that meets your company’s goals at VP Legacies.

  1. Lower the Frequency of Meetings and Emails

While meetings and emails form an indispensable part of the workforce, most companies can stand to lower their frequency. Today’s younger workforce generation doesn’t believe in unnecessarily long conversations. They prefer to achieve tasks quickly yet efficiently. 

No one wants to read long emails. Keep your emails short and crisp. If a message can be conveyed through two lines, then do so. The same goes for meetings. Meetings are usually seen as hurdles in the way of productivity as far as employees are concerned. More often than not employees feel they could be getting a lot of work done instead of having to sit for a meeting whose intention could have been conveyed via an email.

Use the power of internal communication. Employ in-house messaging forums such as Slack to discuss work with your employees and create pathways for personal connection. You can also use Slack to pass on important information before meetings so that no extra time is wasted. 

  1. Make Your Managers More Accessible 

Managers are the people employees turn to whenever there are problems with the work ambiance. Make sure that your employees have a constant line of communication with your management team. Encourage those sort of warm, cordial relationships between these two segments so that a harmonious environment can be maintained at work.

Provide your managers with all the necessary tools of online communication. That way, employees won’t have to wait till weekly or monthly meetings to put their concerns forward and have them sorted.

  1. Conduct Surveys and Listen Carefully

One of the most effective ideas for internal communication with regards to enhancing employee personal connection is conducting surveys every once in a while. These surveys can include questions regarding new strategies, management behavior, and the overall company structure. Make the surveys anonymous – this allows the organization to recognize its flaws and make amends accordingly.

Truly listen to your employees when they talk, be it through their surveys or during face-to-face conversations. Jot down their inputs and make it a point to work on them so that everyone working under you feels comfortable. 

Summing Up

When an organization employs effective internal communication strategies, it makes the employees feel more secure and motivated. Engaged employees tend to be more dedicated towards their work. In fact, employee engagement increases productivity by 17%, with reported profit rates for a company going up to 22% when their employees feel more engaged. 

Therefore, use your internal communication system effectively, and you’ll find your employees consistently working harder to drive bottom-line goals at your company. Find out here how VP Legacies can help you reach your internal communication goals.Related: Crisis Management for Businesses

A Guide to Effective Crisis Communication

A Guide to Effective Crisis Communication 767 508 VP Legacies

Crisis management is an umbrella term for an extensive portfolio of public relations professions. Among the sub-specialities of crisis management is crisis communication. Without it, you are unable to deploy your plan and maintain the trust of your employees. An internal communication plan must stress personal connection if your employees are to remain loyal to your brand and help you whether the storm. With our expertise in strategic communication and helping companies build personal connections to help businesses reach their bottom line and retain employees, here’s our guide for communicating during a crisis.

What is crisis communication?

Crisis communication is the process of defending the reputation of a person, company or organization that is under attack or public scrutiny for their actions. This involves internal messaging to build a strategy and mitigating internal damage, and external messaging to maintain public image. It involves quick, concise and proactive communication to respond to the allegations and build a better narrative. Remember, first things come first. Internal communication is the first step to a crisis communication plan. Once all of your employees are on the same page, you can more effectively craft messages with uniform tone for the public to read, watch, or listen to.

It’s crucial to note that it’s inadvisable to spin a story when you’re at fault, although some unscrupulous entities take that route. Proper crisis communication is built from integrity and honesty, including apologies when needed and explanations with facts where they need to defend themselves.

Crisis communication is a key factor for Fortune 500 companies like ExxonMobil, which until today remains one of the largest publicly-traded companies in the U.S. – despite accusations against the company influencing the United State’s foreign policy, neglecting human rights issues raised against them, and fighting proven data about climate change and global warming. Through crisis management, Exxon managed to recover, adjust and continue to do business. While they’re still a prominent and influential company, their production has steadily been in decline. Their declining profit margins are in part due to poor crisis management. They were unable to effectively regain the trust of the public.

Some employees have even sued ExxonMobile because of unsafe working conditions. Companies must prove they have learned from crises, especially if they have a direct effect on the safety of employees. A crisis communication plan must communicate to its employees that they are taking steps to mitigate crisis, and maintain a personal connection to let employees know their voices matter.

Crisis communication focuses on these three areas.

  1. Issues management  
  2. Risk communication
  3. Reputation management

Issues management

Issues can create a crisis, which is why it is essential to have a grasp on issue management. When a problem is managed, it means the stakeholders in the crisis known what actions are being taken. The crisis management team immerses in rectifying the situation and every action taken by the affected party is scrutinized for potential problems. Essentially, stakeholders define and control the issue through targeted communication. 

Even when stakeholders are at the executive or management level, it is important to take stock of potentially less obvious effects on other employees. Make sure that you keep everyone in the loop as much as possible without creating panic or exposing confidential information. 

Risk communication

This area concerns how messages from the party in crisis are communicated to others. There should be an understanding of how the public or other affected stakeholders apportion responsibility for the problem to craft an appropriate risk communication strategy. Remember that external communication stems from internal communication, and reinforcing a strong personal connection between employees can help make sure everyone maintains consistent, honest messaging.

Reputation management

This is where the crisis communication team begins to restore the reputation of the affected entity. It should be subtle and compassionate where it needs to be. The example of ExxonMobil is a notable example because, despite the fact that their oil spill of 1989 in Alaska caused so much environmental damage, they didn’t take much responsibility and instead continued lobbying for denial of data about global warming and climate change. 

Three decades later, they remain one of the most unpopular companies on the planet. This is not because of the oil spill, but because of their response to environmental issues thereafter. Their communication strategy did not leave room for accepting blame, and instead avoided the issue while failing to do ample damage control. As we can see from the employees who sued ExxonMobil, accepting the blame is not just a PR strategy, but a way to prevent future crises. 

What could go wrong?

When a company is doing well, the thought of a crisis is often the last thing on the CEO’s mind. It’s hard to picture what could go wrong when a business is burgeoning. But those are the very instances that an organization is caught flat-footed by an unforeseen crisis. Failing to have a crisis communication team and plan in place can be fatal for a business in this situation.

The necessary steps to implementing crisis communication are not complicated. However, a crucial factor towards effective crisis management hinges on being prepared even before a crisis ever hits. That means a company needs to implement efficient channels of communication and standard protocols long before a crisis occurs.

Because no one can predict a crisis and what form it may take, preparation cannot be overstated here. Depending on the type of company and services the organization offers, a team tasked with crisis communication should be trained to handle any issue deemed as a crisis. Such a unit is trained in credible response mechanisms in the event of any unpleasant circumstances that requires mitigation between the public or individuals and the company. But even if you hire a unit for crisis communication, make sure to communicate their strategies to the whole team.

There is no shortage of the number of issues in an organization that may require crisis communication. This can range from harassment allegations within the company from employees to any controversial company policies. Such issues can get very ugly very quickly if a business does not act quickly. Eventually, these situations cost a company untold individual losses should the public get wind of the allegations. 

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Building a Corporate Communication Strategy

Steps in a crisis

There are three elements present in all crises

  1. A threatening situation to the company, organization or individual
  2. Internal or external damage, shock, and threatened reputation
  3. Limited time to make a defining decision

The rule of thumb for any organization or influential individual is to never underestimate a thorny issue. It is prudent to have an in-house crisis management team that has a separate crisis communication arm. Their job is to monitor even the most mundane complaints and claims and develop strategies to deal with them before it’s too late to salvage a brand’s reputation. 

A CEO should consider the repercussions of not being prepared before a crisis, and act promptly by choosing whether or not to outsource crisis management or create a team in-house.

How to implement a crisis communication strategy

There are three fundamental steps to approach any crisis

  1. Pre-crisis preparation
  2. Mid-crisis implementation
  3. Post-crisis strategy

Pre-crisis preparation

Foresee a crisis

All businesses will have a crisis at one time or another. Those that emerge on the other side are those that have prepared with ample planning and communication. Anticipating a crisis will help you develop a team and strategies to deal with any fallout. It may also help the company identify loopholes that can expose the organization to potential crises.

Choose a crisis communication team

A crisis communication team should comprise of high-level executives with an in-depth understanding of the running of the organization. This is because they’re equipped with the necessary information to handle inquisition from the public and stakeholders. The CEO is definitely part of the team, as are the legal and PR teams. Departmental heads may be included depending on the scope of the crisis.

The crisis management team should do a vulnerability audit, which is a risk assessment to determine the weak areas in the organization that opens it up to a crisis. At the end of the vulnerability audit, the crisis communication team should develop a crisis communication plan that will guide the organization’s reaction to any crises that pop up. 

From the team, there should be a designated crisis spokesperson. The spokesperson must be equipped to handle themselves when under fire and be eloquent in all forms of media from public meetings to on-camera. Always remember, crisis communication is very different from proactive PR. In the former one is under fire and in the latter, they’re in friendly environments. The spokesperson needs the training to be able to get the message across in a manner that addresses the concerns of all involved.

Develop notification and alerting mechanisms

It is vital to have a way to notify or alert stakeholders about a crisis immediately after it’s detected. The notification can be as simple as a text message or a code that all the members for the crisis management team are aware of. Keeping everyone in the loop can prevent future damage. It is important to make sure that everyone in your company is on the same page and knows these procedures for crisis. Your internal communication plan should have a way to ensure that everyone has the necessary phone apps or technological means to stay up-to-date.

Mid-crisis implementation

Seek to understand the situation

Social media is a great place to monitor the conversation and feelings surrounding the crisis, allowing the crisis communication team can stay on the pulse. However, no one except the spokesperson should respond via the appropriate social media channels and with approved messages. 

Apologies to employees, clients, and the media must be heartfelt and genuine – however, explanations should rarely occur via social media. In most cases, crises are surprise occurrences, and the situation may still be unfolding, so information is scant. When asked about the crisis at this point, honestly point out that the situation is still evolving and the organization is keeping an eye on it. Once they have all the facts, they will release a statement or address the matter. 

This statement should be promptly, but not too soon that it’s hasty. It might be a good idea to create a template ahead of time for general crises and appoint specific employees to be in charge of writing and deploying the message. It’s important that not only executives understand the situation, but all employees. Improve personal connections with employees to motivate them to stay in the loop.

Once the problem has been identified, acknowledge the organization’s role in it and outline what is being done to rectify the situation. “No comment” is a very unsatisfactory answer that tends to fuel more outrage about the situation. A real apology keeps the conversation moving forward.

Listen to the team

This is not the time to be second-guessing each other. Remember, the organization has a guide about how to respond to the crisis, and it should take effect immediately. Instilling trust and loyalty among employees long before a crisis occurs is crucial. If employees like where they work, they’ll be more willing to stay active during the crisis management process.

The spokesperson only communicates publicly messaging that has been agreed upon, and that has gone through all the legal and PR teams checks and balances. These two teams will have crafted the best language for the spokesperson to use during this time.

Take action

After acknowledging the role of the organization in the situation, outline actionable steps that are being implemented. The actions must be substantial enough to make a discernible difference in the situation. For example, in cases of fraud, restitution of the stolen funds is crucial to restoring public confidence in the company or organization.

Acting fast is essential at this point in the crisis because what is done can quickly restore faith or make people lose faith in an organization or brand. For example, despite the unlikable reputation ExxonMobil has for lobbying for denial of climate change and global warming data, when the company had an oil spill in 2013 in an Arkansas suburb, they were quick to take responsibility, clean up the mess and pay up $5.07 million for the spillage. They talked less and did more, and with the help of PR images from their crisis communication team, the story faded faster.

Post-crisis strategy

Review the crisis

Once the crisis is contained, the crisis management team needs to review the entire process from the notification and alerting system to the response guide, messaging and imparting of approved information and the monitoring of all the media channels. Identify the areas that need improvement and fine-tune those areas. Make sure internal communication persists and everyone understands the external message to be deployed.

Related: 10 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover in 2019

Bring in communication specialists

At this point, it’s a good idea to bring in a third party subject specialist to work with the team on bettering the crisis response mechanisms. A communications specialist helps the organization work on internal strategies for a better response internally and externally to crises.

They will work in conjunction with the crisis communication team at first to set up the proper communication strategies that will work even better than before.

When to outsource for crisis communication

Sometimes an organization doesn’t have the kind of human resources that can make up a resourceful, formidable crisis communications team. That is when there is a need to outsource these services. Such agencies inject:

Perspective

CEOs, the legal team and other executives have vested interests in the company and their individual reputation, which may cause them to lose perspective in times of a crisis. Crisis communication specialists provide an impartial voice and utilize the best practices in the situation in the best overall interest of the organization. 

Impartiality 

Third-party crisis communicators have the experience of doing similar damage control with other clients, so they offer their expertise without bias or favour. By being unbiased, they can make sure internal communication covers everyone. While it might seem contradictory, external parties can actually maximize personal connection.

Better ideas

In-house communication teams write with a bias towards either their department or their future aspirations in the company, which is why an outside team can help. Plus, a CEO may have excellent organizational skills when it comes to running the company, but they may not be the best communicator. In crisis management, the messages need to be shorter and more concise with more action to back up the words. These specialists understand that the more words are used in the messaging, the more there is to pick apart and misconstrue. They’ll keep the approved messaging short and precisely to the point so that there is no miscommunication.

Conclusion

A crisis shouldn’t mean the end of the organization, but it certainly can be if it is handled the wrong way. Having a crisis communication team is not just a good idea, nor even a great idea – it’s absolutely vital for a company to prepare for the worst.

That’s why at VP Legacies, we work with you to build an effective communication strategy during times of crisis. With our focus on personal connection and building trust, you’ll enlist all of your employees to play their role during crisis mitigation and find your way through with success.

Related: What Is the Best Strategy for CEO Communication

6 Tips for Having a Tough Conversation with Your Boss

6 Tips for Having a Tough Conversation with Your Boss 1080 675 VP Legacies

Just like managers need to have tough conversations with their employees, employees need to have tough conversations with their bosses. Whether it’s a raise, a promotion, or an office conflict, employees need to feel like they can have tough conversations with their bosses without backlash.

As an employee, you want to feel empowered and confident to be able to speak to your boss. You want to build a relationship with your boss where they can be your mentor and advocate. Not only do you want to have that professional relationship, but you also want to have a personal relationship too. This relationship allows you to bring problems to their attention freely and openly.

Without further ado, here are six tips we have for having a tough conversation with your boss.

Explain the situation and context

One of the first steps when approaching your boss with a situation is to state your issue explicitly and give context around the issue. Your boss isn’t going to know what you’re thinking or feeling so you need to explain it to them. You also need to help them understand why you’re feeling a certain way and what prompted that.

Don’t waste time beating around the bush, just go straight into your issue. This doesn’t mean you’re being aggressive; you are just sharing facts from your point of view. By explaining your situation with “I” statements, you can explain your feelings to better explain your situation without coming off as aggressive.

Be honest and truthful

Though this may be a no-brainer, it’s a lot harder than you think to be honest and truthful when approaching your boss. While you want to exhibit candor, you don’t want to do so in a way that comes off as obnoxious. Be graceful and respectful when approaching your boss, choosing your words carefully. Don’t throw people under the bus or play the blame game. Make the conversation about you, not everyone else.

That being said, if something is bothering you, bring it up with your boss sooner rather than later. You don’t want to reach your tipping point before going to your boss with an issue. If you a non-confrontation person, this may be difficult for you because you anticipate the worst-case scenario if you do say something. However, it’s quite the opposite; it might be the best-case scenario if you have the courage to speak up.

Ask for your boss’s perspective

As an employee, you don’t have all the visibility into why your boss makes the decisions they do. You have no idea why they picked your co-worker for a project over you. That’s why it’s key to ask their perspective on the issue you bring to them. Don’t be afraid to ask them why they gave the project to your co-worker and ask what you can do next time, so you are at the top of the consideration list.

Go into the conversation with an open mind. Don’t think that your boss has it out for you because in most cases, they probably don’t. Finding out the reasoning behind their decisions can help you better understand their thought process. As a result, you might end up shifting your attitude and perspective to something more positive by the end of the conversation.

Make sure you reach a resolution and decide next steps

The worst thing you can do when talking to your boss is leaving the conversation unresolved. The whole purpose of meeting with your boss was to resolve the issue by the end of the conversation. You don’t want to leave anything unresolved. Use the time with your boss to bring up any and all issues to make sure you have answers for all of your concerns. Not only will laying everything out on the table will help with your conscious, but it will also help your boss’s too.

A way to do this is by assigning each party action items to complete. Maybe you need to follow up on something or your boss needs to talk to their supervisor. Whatever it is, make sure you decide what needs to get done before you end the conversation, so you have something to circle back on.

Ensure that you and your manager are in a trusting relationship

When talking with your manager, you want to make sure that you can trust them. Like a friend, you don’t want them to spread your conversation around as office gossip. You want to make sure they approach your conversation seriously and with full confidentiality.

In the case that you don’t trust your manager, reach out to another colleague in the company who you can trust and feel comfortable talking to. You want a good gut feeling about the person you’re talking to without questioning their level of trust. If employee-manager confidentiality becomes an issue, reach out to their supervisor to bring the issue to their attention.

Find a time to meet with your boss to make sure you have their full attention

Like many bosses, your boss is probably busy every day between meetings they have and work they need to get done. Set up your meeting with your boss at a time where you know you’ll have their full attention, so they can focus on the conversation with you without getting distracted by other work.

You also want to set up a meeting in person and in private. While a phone meeting is great, it doesn’t lend itself to emotion and body language, both of which convey how you are really feeling. Make sure your meeting is in a private room or your bosses office to have full confidentiality without the office hearing what you have to say.

It’s no easy feat talking to your boss. For some, it’s the hardest thing to do. However, it’s necessary to not only address conflict but build a relationship with your boss. With these tips, you’re sure to feel comfortable talking to your boss the next time a conflict comes up.

What to Include In an Internal Communication Plan

What to Include In an Internal Communication Plan 1050 700 VP Legacies

The way an organization communicates internally can directly impact the quality of goods and services produced, ultimately affecting your company’s bottom line. Well thought out and effective internal communication models help employees feel valued and heard, in turn boosting productivity and ensuring a strong brand reputation inside and out.

An internal communication plan that hasn’t been given much thought can end up causing time lags in message delivery, resulting in delays and reduced efficiency. That can be the beginning of deteriorating relationships with customers and subsequent negative effects on the organization’s bottom line. VP Legacies values personal connections within the workplace to create an environment where your employees want to stay. By keeping employees happy and increasing retention rates, you can develop long-lasting professional relationships with quality employees, helping your business to grow.

 

What is an internal communication plan?

 

 

 

Simply put, it’s a plan that articulates how messages and information are disseminated across various departments to employees to help drive business outcomes for the organization.

 

Why do organizations need an internal communication plan?

There is a game played in many employee communication training sessions called ‘broken telephone’. It’s more of an experiment that shows how original information can be transformed by inaccuracies as it is relayed across a sea of employees.

The game starts with the facilitator whispering something to one of the participants, who in turn relays the message to the next person in a whisper. So if the training session has 30 attendees, all members will have relayed the message to the next person in a whisper. The facilitator will then ask the first and the last employee to receive the message to share what was relayed to them out loud with the rest of the group.

More often than not, the difference between the original message and what it becomes by the time it reaches the 30th employee in the session is laughable.

This silly yet fun game is a powerful illustration of how a clear message from the top of the organization can lose its original meaning by the time it is relayed to junior employees.

Although operational models of various organizations may differ, the need for correct and precise communication to be disseminated remains key to the successful meeting of any organization’s business goals. That is the reason why having an effective internal communication plan is paramount. Alongside accuracy, an internal communication plan must ensure that information actually reaches employees. By creating an environment with strong personal connections where all employees feel heard, they are more likely to listen to you.

The fundamental goal of most organizations is to turn in a profit. In the quest to meet and exceed bottom lines, initiatives to that end are set by management and hinge on every employees contribution towards that direction to achieve success.

An internal communication plan ensures that all departments and employees at different levels receive communications and understand the direction the company is taking. A solid communication plan also provides a clear layout for consistent, clear communication that keeps employees in the loop about your business’s goals. That puts them in an empowering position where they are able to take right actions that are aligned with achieving those goals.

With everyone pulling in the same, defined direction, it’s more likely that the business outcomes are met and perhaps exceeded.

 

Benefits of a communication plan

 

 

 

An internal communication plan empowers employees and makes them feel a part of something. In addition to integrating the team for increased productivity, implementing a communication plan can:

 

1. Create a yardstick for successful implementation

Internal communication plans aid an organization in prioritizing communication strategies and when they should be implemented. They also help measure the value of already implemented communication strategies, and the positive or negative impact they have on the business.

 

2. Acts as a conduit

Business partners and business leaders are always keen on business opportunities. A good internal communication plan keeps both parties engaged in important conversations that may lead to better business deals and healthier profits.

 

3. Delivers on efficiency

With a plan in place, the internal team has parameters and guidelines that help funnel their efforts on what is most important to the business. An internal communication plan also helps to customize content and delivery methods to suit employees that are computer-based or out in the field.

It is a tool that enables the organization to get vital information to all employees within a short time. The information should also be easy and quick to read. Fast message delivery and short concise information ensure that employees get information promptly.

The whole purpose of adopting an internal communication plan is to improve the collective output of employees while reducing or eliminating the percentage of customers who aren’t satisfied. If a customer’s dissatisfaction is a result of inaccurate information provided by an employee, then such an issue can be resolved through speedy delivery of messages and vital information to front line employees.

It’s important that the information is delivered quickly, but not coldly. Maintaining a sense of personal connection across all messaging increases the likelihood that employees will pay attention.

Related: 10 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover in 2019

 

How to prepare an internal communication plan

 

 

 

 

1. Analyze the current state of your business

When considering what internal communication plan is the best fit for a business, one must analyze the status of the current communication plan in place. That helps determine what areas are working and what business departments are not performing to meet expectations.

Such an analysis will help determine if improvements on a current plan are needed or a total overhaul of the plan is necessary.

 

2. Assess needs across the board

A continuation of the previous step, talking to employees and internal stakeholders ensures that your internal communication plan is guided by the people throughout the organization, and not just the goals of management and leadership. Collect data from all department and all employee levels to make sure that everyone feels heard.

 

3. Consider the organization’s goal

Regardless of the internal communication plan you choose, it should be aligned with clearly defined organizational goals. An organization that knows its business goals, as well as communication goals, is better placed to choose an internal communication plan that communicates those goals effectively.

 

4. Think of the audience 

The right internal communication plan can adapt to different departments and seniority levels. Giving some thought to what audience the messages are intended for assists in the formulation of effective communication strategies.

Analyzing the kind of audience will not only inform what tactics to employ but also what communications channels to use for maximum impact. While the amount of information disseminated will change depending on the audience and the tone/medium might also change slightly, remember that meaningful connections are important across the board.

 

4. Time of information release

When preparing internal communication plans, it is vital to consider methods, time, frequency and channels of relaying information to various employee segments. Basically, a business’s communication strategy must be compatible or adaptable to their messaging timeline.

 

Related: Is Your Employment Branding Strategy Working? Here’s what you need to know

 

What should an internal communication plan comprise of?

 

 

 

Having considered the above factors, it’s time to look at the elements a business should include in their plan. For that purpose, an internal communication plan template will prove helpful. It helps an organization cover all the internal communication bases while customizing sections in the template to suit their model of communication needs.

For most organizations, a one-size-fits-all internal communication plan may not work. Usually, this is because the employees in different departments and in various company roles may communicate differently. Some might spend more time communicating with clients on the phone, others might use their computer more, and still others might work remotely.

Whereas relaying information via email may work for computer-based employees, it may not work as well for front line employees dealing with customers directly. They simply don’t have the time to check their mail while manning a cashier till or front desk.

However, a messaging method similar to the news feeds such as desktop tickers might work for front line staff. The message text scrolls across the bottom of an employee’s work station so it is highly visible.

The message is short and precise so that even in a busy environment, an employee is able to see time-sensitive time information pertinent to his/her role on time and without fail.

Employees who are out in the field may prefer that time-sensitive information be relayed via text on their mobile phones rather than email in case they frequent remote areas with no Internet access.

When choosing an internal communication plan, an organization will have to not only consider their audiences but the environments of various employee segments.

But above all, it is vital to create an internal communication plan that keeps everyone in the fold and maintains a personal connection. By communicating adequately and attentively, employees will feel like they’re part of the group.

Let’s take an in-depth look at what an internal communication plan should include.

 

1. Evaluation metrics

Incorporating evaluation metrics into the internal communication plan is crucial. This allows one to monitor what channels employees prefer to communicate through and the ones they avoid. Such analysis provides insight as to how communication can be improved.

 

2. Success indicators

Based on the goals and objectives set by the company, an internal communication plan should have a way to measure how it impacts business goals and affects employee relationships. This is possible through a number of different analytic tools.

Note: it’s effective only if the organization’s goals are clearly defined. Then, it can show whether company objectives are being met. Positive signs may include:

 

  • Positive feedback forms for employees
  • Improved survey scores
  • Increased product sale or share value
  • Better employee retention rates
  • Improved percentage of employee sign-ups for initiatives

 

3. Effective communication channels

An internal communication plan that has multiple communication options can help an organization prevent loss of man-hours, improve employee engagement as well as the percentage of customer satisfaction.

One of the key challenges in communication is an overload of information. Not all employees prefer reading long detailed emails from management. Depending on the employee’s job role and environment, they may express that they prefer short and precise messages on alternative channels outside of emails. That is reasonable if they happen to be on the front line of service dealing with customers directly.

Adaptability shows employees you are willing to work with them to suit their needs. An organization will benefit from an internal communication plan that allows multiple communication channels such as the following:

 

  • Desktop tickers
  • Desktop alerts
  • Digital newsletters
  • Employee satisfaction questionnaires

 

 

 

Desktop tickers allow instant communication with employees in busy front line environments. The short, concise and visible nature of desktop alerts increases the percentage of employees who’ll see crucial information at the beginning of their shifts. Such alternative channels of communication ensure that employees receive, read and assimilate information that impacts customer satisfaction and company business goals.

Information that is less vital and time-sensitive can be passed on through a periodic newsletter that serves to inform and engage employees on internal issues and initiatives. These kinds of newsletters foster a sense of personal connection.

Since communication is a two-way street, capturing employees’ feedback on what they feel about certain internal communication strategies will help management evaluate the effectiveness of their plan. Anonymous questionnaires are an effective method of gathering that feedback.

 

Challenges that an internal communication plan should seek to address 

 

 

 

Having established that the business success of an organization hinges on its ability to have a cohesive intra-departmental communication plan, the goal of an effective internal communication plan is to maximize effective communication for all employee levels.

To achieve that, a fitting communication plan for any business should serve as a solution to several common communication challenges such as the following:

 

  • Identifying and resolving communication issues that compromise support staff and front line employees. This can range from company protocol on dealing with prevalent customer issues to something as basic as how to answer the phone.
  • Alleviating time-sensitive message delivery barriers.
  • Reducing the volume of data sent to employees and tailoring message and delivery channels. This will achieve a higher percentage of message reception and assimilation by employees.The subsequent results will translate to a success indicator such as improved customer satisfaction and fewer customer complaints related to the provision of inaccurate information.

 

Conclusion

 

 

 

These are a few internal communication challenges common to most organizations. Using an internal communication template can help a business cover every angle of its communication needs for better productivity.  This plan will optimize targeting and timing of messaging to the right audience.

An effective internal communication plan also helps prevent information overload by tailoring messages to be shorter and precise. Overall, delivering messages through methods that take into consideration the employees environment goes a long way in communicating effectively to employees on time-sensitive issues that affect their role.

Most importantly, an internal communication plan should help businesses fortify personal connection with their employees. Informing them on important matters and maintaining frequent communication will ensure them that they are in the loop, and finding opportunities to get feedback will let them know they are heard. VP Legacies is here to help you with your strategic communication consulting needs. With a three-step process we apply to any aspect of corporate communications, our expertise will help you succeed with better employee retention rates and, as a result, a better business.

Related: Monochronic vs. Polychronic cultures: What are The Differences?

 

Internal Communication Best Practices

Internal Communication Best Practices 1050 700 VP Legacies

Communication is a key ingredient for any business to foster sustainable and scalable growth. Whether with customers, partners or employees, lacking a solid communication strategy makes it difficult to execute even the simplest tasks on a daily basis. It is especially important to build efficient, high-quality communication with internal stakeholders and employees. In order to do this, take an empathetic approach and build personal connections.

When businesses ignore internal communication best practices as they grow, they create a block to business efficiency and lower employee satisfaction and retention.

Technology is changing by the minute, which means it’s more important than ever for companies to be in touch with business trends, changing expectations and strategic developments. Across the board, employees expect faster and more personal communication – and rightfully so. If your employees are connected through effective internal communication strategies, productivity and morale will increase by an order of magnitude. 

At VP Legacies, we develop and deploy strategic communication strategies to help you develop and maintain a strategy for meaningful connections in the workplace. With our experience in meaningful communication and strong personal connections, we’ll walk you through some internal communication best practices you can start implementing today.

Have A Strategy

 

 

 

The absolute first step that a company must take before thinking of internal communication ideas is to develop an overarching strategy. Examine which internal communication workflows and norms are in place right now at your organization, then evaluate their effectiveness or lack thereof. 

The mark of an effective strategy for internal communication is a consistent corporate voice and personal attention. If your employees understand your business’s workflow philosophy and you make everyone feel heard, communication becomes easier and sometimes even enjoyable.

Do a gap analysis and figure out the current communication logjams you’re running into.

Without a thorough foundation of the strengths and weaknesses of your current internal communication processes, an organization can’t develop the necessary adjustments to scale impact.

“Collaboration is a key part of the success of any organization, executed through a clearly defined vision and mission and based on transparency and constant communication.” – Dinesh Paliwal

Use The Right Communication Tools

 

 

 

Thanks to technological developments, there are many tools available that are so well established they’re essentially internal communication best practices. The last thing you want is your team performing poorly because of an old-fashioned communication method or process.

Adopt tools like Slack, which are not only easy to use but are designed to streamline the communication process between departments and the entire organization as a whole. Tools give the opportunity for fast personal connections that might otherwise be difficult to initiate and allow horizontal and vertical communication to occur at a rapid pace.

Don’t get caught up in the flurry of tools, however – it’s best to keep them at a minimum and focus on the most essential pieces so employees don’t feel burdened by a steep learning curve. An excess of tools can leave a poor impression on employees, who might think your business is impersonal.

Keep it simple, effective and productive.

No Communication Overload

Too much communication can also be a bad thing for your organization. Employees can’t keep track of regular updates or policy changes that are sent to them every other day – reduce the frequency of internal newsletters while maintaining the effectiveness of the message conveyed. This will not only bring more attention but also increase the level of importance of the message for your employees.

Amazon famously requires every meeting to be preceded with a 3-6 page press release-style document on the meeting. If you can’t summarize information into a few pages, it’s not worth disseminating yet.

With less communication, you can really take the time to craft thoughtful messages that convey what’s necessary but also remind employees that you care. A thorough, friendly email rather than an onslaught of dense information encourages employees to stay up to date and makes them feel welcome.

Related: 10 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover in 2019

Be Fun And Visual

 

 

 

Gone are the days when “work” is strictly “work” – the definition of work culture has evolved over the past few years, and so should the internal communication best practices. Don’t hesitate to use an informal or casual tone within your organization comms.

Make your communication visual and easy to read rather than full of jargon that people don’t care about. Foster a feeling of oneness within your organization by allowing employees to communicate and even have some fun while they get some work done.

Cross-Department Communication Is Crucial

It’s a challenging task to monitor and bring together a large team within various departments, by encouraging cross-department communication practices, such as team building activities or Q/A sessions, where people learn more about everyone else’s jobs and how the company functions as a whole will reduce the chances of potential isolation among departments. Employees might even pick up some friends along the way.

Monthly sprint demos for different departments to share work and current development are great ways to maintain context without contributing to information overflow. Discussion-based collaboration helps ease the feeling of pressure and creates a sense of personal connection and shared goals.

Related: What Is the Best Strategy for CEO Communication?

Create A Feedback And Recognition Process

 

 

 

One of the major complaints employees have is that no one listens to their problems or appreciates their contributions. If you develop a systematic feedback process where employees have the freedom to express themselves and raise any concerns, they’ll feel like they’re being heard in the organization – a major boost in your internal communication strategy.

Similarly, recognizing the employee’s growth and contribution within the organization audibly gives them a morale boost and makes them feel noticed and valued within the organization

Be Transparent

 

 

 

The more open and clear the internal communication strategy is, the more valued an employee feels. If you’re sharing the growth of the company with the employees and keeping them updated with all the major updates that you deem necessary, not only will it motivate them to work harder, but it will also create a sense of mutual trust and importance within the organization.

Set And Monitor Realistic Goals

You need to know whether your internal communication practices are having a positive or negative impact on your organization. Set benchmarks and determining factors (i.e real business metrics) upon which the internal communication best practices will be judged upon and track them regularly.

Communication is one of the most difficult practices to optimize at scale, which is why an organization needs to constantly be vigilant about its challenges and processes. Implementing solid internal communication best practices are not only beneficial in the long run for employees, but they’re also  a godsend for the organization.

 

 

 

Being clear about the goals of your organization and maintaining a culture of internal communication best practices can have a positive ripple effect within all departments of your organization. It takes practice, trial and error and the will to follow through with the internal communication ideas for an organization to see it come to fruition after a while – which is why many companies shy away from it without realizing the benefits it brings. 

Holding pace in this fast-moving corporate world requires that an organization and its employees are on the same page and there is ample motivation, connection, and trust within the organization. This is where a strong internal communication strategy continues to play a crucial role, and will continue to do so for the foreseen future.

VP Legacies is prepared to give you a helping hand for a strong internal communication strategy. From development to implementation and assessment, we offer internal corproate communication consulting, custom eLearning development and employer branding solutions for all forms of internal corporate communication.Related: The Ultimate Guide for Building a Corporate Communication Strategy

 

Crisis Management for Businesses

Crisis Management for Businesses 974 638 VP Legacies

Whether it’s a small-scale error or a company-wide occurrence, mistakes happen and moments of crisis are common.

A crisis can result in significant economic consequences and damage to a company’s brand. Mitigating this can be a long and expensive process. Plus the more parties there are involved, the much higher the stakes are. It is important to keep employees and shareholders happy, so executives should structure and manage their company in such a way that crises are less likely to occur.

This is why every business needs a crisis management plan in place, regardless of its size. These preventative measures lessen the likelihood of a crisis and, in case there is one, ensure that the right protocols exist to minimize further damage.

The key component of a crisis management plan is effective communication. To implement an overall crisis plan, it is vital to consider a strategy for both internal and external communication. While managing a crisis, your company needs to control the flow of information to ensure that key stakeholders understand what is happening without gaining access to excess details that could potentially cause liabilities.

But even the best planning with the best crisis communication isn’t fool-proof. Both internal and external factors can cause a business crisis. They can be small issues that grow over time or sudden issues with an immediate threat, such as a data breach. In either case, a crisis can significantly disrupt a company’s ability to carry out daily functions normally. It might put the entire health of the company at significant risk with permanent long-term effects. 

Any event that might negatively affect a business in the short or long run can be classified as a crisis. It needs to be managed according to a Crisis Management strategy and plan.

 

What Is Crisis Management?

 

For any business crisis, Crisis Management is the term for resolving a negative impact on a company. Crisis management and crisis response mean preventing further damage while allowing the business to recover quickly from any damage.

Crisis Management involves confronting the issue and those involved directly, as well as managing its ripple effects with various stakeholders and public relations entities. To maintain personal connections with stakeholders and minimize damage to relationships, build a communication strategy that keeps everyone feeling informed and assured.

 

Why Is Crisis Management Important?

Crisis management is an important strategy, which is why plans to manage a crisis can be both costly and detrimental to a business. A crisis management strategy also holds companies liable for any wrongdoings and restores the public’s trust. In one famous PR crisis, the management of one Starbucks location called the police on two African-American men who did not order anything, and said they were waiting for a friend. The men were arrested. Rather than ignore complaints or defend their actions, Starbucks issued an apology and closed its United States locations for one day to conduct anti-bias training. This internal communication strategy helped employees understand the gravity of the personnel crisis and sent the external message that Starbucks would do better to eliminate racial bias. 

 

Types of Crisis Management

 

 

There are three categories of Crisis Management that exist in an organization:

 

1. Responsive

Responsive Crisis Management involves having an action plan ready for handling various types of crises that may affect a business. These plans are designed to be acted upon immediately. They should include clear guidelines and protocols on what to do, who to involve, and crisis response to outside entities. Responsive plans generally concern rare but somewhat predictable financial or crises with employees.

Related: Is Your Employment Branding Strategy Working? Here’s What You Need to Know

A communication strategy for responsive crisis management will focus on internal stakeholders, ensuring that they know how to respond to safety and liability issues as well as how to communicate externally with other stakeholders who may be affected. This communication strategy may not require frequent contact or excessive details, since you cannot predict exactly how a crisis may unfold.

2. Proactive

 

 

Proactive Crisis Management is also about anticipating potential future issues and having plans in place to prevent them. However, these plans are generally about crises that are easy to prepare for but difficult to control ahead of time. For example, companies avoid accidents by ensuring that employees follow safety protocols. Companies examine safety studies and put protocols in place in the case of a natural disaster. These forms of crisis management and early crisis control may involve actively monitoring signs of crises forming in early stages.

Proactive crisis management is another process that requires long-term corporate communication. Employees must be informed about safety protocols from the moment they start working at your company. Both employees and executives should frequently be updated on changes in regulations and protocol.

3. Reactive

Reactive Crisis Management focuses on damage minimization during later phases of crisis. It’s the third form of crisis management that covers the unknown and involves protocols put in place that can be applied to any type of crisis that doesn’t have a dedicated plan in place. This type of crisis management is the hardest to solve and the most complex, since it covers an unknowable number of unpredictable risks for a business.

Since reactive crisis management must occur quickly, it is important to implement a communication strategy that is concise and action-oriented. While rebuilding long-term professional or client relationships is also a key component, a clear and concise plan for primary actors involved in the crisis management plan must take priority.

 

Types of Crises to Be Prepared For

There are many crises a business needs to be prepared for. Here are a few common forms:

 

Accidents

Any accident within an organization will need crisis management and streamlined crisis communication. For example, a fire at the head office or manufacturing plant can result in employee injuries and a shutdown of operations. These severe accidents can also be a PR crisis if the origin of the problem turns out to be negligence in enforcing safety standards, in which case crisis response to the media dictates how long the problem will last.

Rebuilding relationships with employees is as important as rebuilding relationships with external stakeholders, if not more so. Communicate with employees to regain their trust so that they know future accidents will be minimized, and so that they are aware of potential compensation. This step will dictate the way media and external stakeholders will view your company, and you can proceed by admitting culpability and summarizing how you’ll take action. 

 

Natural disasters

Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods can have long-lasting impacts on a business. They can result in extensive damage to infrastructure and shut down day to day operations for a long period of time. Crisis communication during early crisis phases is especially important in preventing injuries.

For natural disasters, personnel look to you in order to figure out what to do. It is important to communicate with employees in a calm manner to ensure that they feel safe. Since you will often have to share difficult news about budget cuts and potential job losses, deploy information with as much compassion as possible and avoid using too much automation to get out this messaging.

 

Technology issues

 

 

With many organizations turning to increasingly complex systems to run critical workflows and operations, technology disasters are proving to be the most common, expensive, and ill-prepared crises a business might face. These crises might be due to malevolent security breaches and hacks that disrupt technology-powered operations. They might be cyber-crime security breaches. Technology crises might also come in the form of system-wide outages due to internal overuse or improper use of tools.

Employ a rapidfire communication strategy with channels that can reach everyone with as much speed as possible. This will ensure that none of the employees exacerbate the issue at hand and maximize their own security before the problem is fixed.

 

Conflict of Interest

Even political and regulatory issues can lead to a crisis. Any conflict of interest can lead to a business crisis if it wasn’t identified earlier on, and can result in damage to an organization’s brand. Regulatory missteps can also be crises if policies are breached blatantly. These crises originate from poor communication between departments within a company, and can be easily prevented if companies take steps to integrate business operations.

Since conflicts of interests can leave clients and partners feeling overlooked, it is important to maintain a sense of personal connection with these stakeholders. Communicate with them in person to execute damage control due to political issues. For regulatory issues, issue out messaging in the most time-efficient channels.

 

Public perception issues

 

 

Many businesses face media or public relations issues such as the spread of false rumors or product issues when used by consumers in the market. Keep in mind that PR crises might also arise as a byproduct as another kind of crisis. True or false, all allegations need to be appropriately managed and addressed so that the PR crisis doesn’t cause long-lasting damage to the business.

Issues of public perception usually require a more comprehensive communication plan that uses multiple forms of messaging. This may include press releases, interviews, and even ad campaigns. First, make sure that everyone in the company who is communicating to outside parties understands the strategy and voice you choose to implement.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Hiring Executives For Your Company

 

Financial issues

When certain assets lose value or a business cannot pay its debt, financial crisis might ensue. A business needs to be prepared for sudden market shifts or competitor threats, even if they are in good financial standing. Prepare employees for financial issues with anticipatory messaging so that budget cuts do not come as a surprise.

 

Personnel crisis

 

 

Employees or other related stakeholders that carry out unethical or illegal behavior in a work-related interaction are a threat to a business. For example, employees sometimes leave a business office with intellectual or confidential material, and share it with a third party for personal gain or even by mistake. In such cases, guidelines need to be in place on how to handle these issues, who to contact, and what communication to disseminate internally and to the public. To provide crisis control for this particular example, many companies have employees sign non-disclosure agreements.

It is important to communicate directly with someone who breaches protocol so that they understand the damage they have caused. If an employee feels threatened by someone, ensure that they feel safe by communicating with them one-on-one.

 

Have a Crisis Management Plan in Place

Developing a Crisis Management Plan is an essential step in crisis control for a business. 

This plan lays out a way for employees in an organization to classify a crisis and then follow the relevant process or steps to managing the crisis and communicate to employees. Some companies even have a designated crisis manager.

The crisis control plan is developed to have any proactive measures in place that can prevent the crisis from developing, and any active monitoring sequences in place. If a crisis occurs, the plan provides the guidelines to mitigate any damage and ensure recovery as fast as possible.  

Here are some guidelines for drafting a good crisis management plan:

 

  • Crisis communication between the individual personnel, groups, and teams that are required for crisis control. This will include tasking directly responsible individuals with managing the crisis response, and noting others who should be kept in the loop on progress (like the CEO)
  • Training and refresher courses on how to handle the crisis should be outlined. Examples include fake fire drills or disaster response exercises that the business must perform. It should also include specialized training for those directly involved with managing the crisis, and mandatory recertifications.
  • Plans should include clear and detailed steps to follow during a crisis. This is important, and a business needs to act fast. This is why the steps have to be clear and without ambiguity.
  • Outline any relevant tools or systems that can be used to monitor an impending crisis and manage the aftermath. For example, building fire systems that need to be operated in the event of a fire. 
  • Relevant external contacts should be listed. This should be contact information such as the Police, Emergency Medical Service, SEC, etc. It’ll depend on the type of crisis at hand. 
  • A communication plan should be included here and list out any mass communication that should be sent out to employees and external media to ensure no rumors or misinformation is spread. 

Communication strategy functions on two levels in a crisis management plan. First of all, the crisis management plan itself often involves communication to external media outlets. Second of all, and more importantly, effective communication is required throughout the entire process to ensure that all of the employees know what to do. An effective communication plan will ensure that personal connections and long-lasting relationships with your employees can whether the storm of any crisis.

 

Final Thoughts

All businesses should have a crisis management plan in place regardless of size. The dangers can be catastrophic, both monetarily or even physically – leading to loss of life. As a result, it’s important that any potential hazards are planned for and considered by using proper crisis risk protocol. Handling crises will also avoid any permanent negative effects on the business and any punitive or criminal issues from external authorities after the crisis is over. 

Communication during a crisis is highly important. To help you figure out an effective way to relay information during and before a crisis, VP Legacies can help you build an effective corporate communication strategy. After finding your pains and gains, we’ll provide custom-built solutions that will help you be able to communicate in any scenario, including the very worst of crises.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Building a Corporate Communication Strategy

 

The Ultimate Guide to Building a Corporate Communication Strategy

The Ultimate Guide to Building a Corporate Communication Strategy 1920 1144 VP Legacies

Corporate communication issues are not a rare problem. In fact, the cost of poor communication in businesses has globally reached over $37 billion per year. That’s a substantial problem to have.

So what’s the solution?

Communication strategies litter the internet, but few of them are actual lucrative solutions. Fixing a corporate communication issue is not a quick or simple process– it takes research, strategy, and time.

If you’re looking for an in-depth guide to addressing and solving communication issues in a business, you’re in luck. We put together a guide to building a corporate communication strategy to suit your own business, so you can reach your communication goals.

There are several aspects of building a core corporate communication strategy: Pre-drafting information and research, actually creating the strategy, and taking the time to examine examples of excellent communication strategies for inspiration and further research.

How to Build a Core Strategy for Communication

These steps should be considered regardless of your corporation’s industry:

1. Identify and prioritize your business executives’ key goals

Start this step by understanding what each executive in your company sees in the company’s future, and what they’re really invested in. The best way to discover and collect this information is by conducting individual interviews with as many of your top-level management as possible, as well as the C-Suite. Ask these executives to clearly identify their top priorities for the next year and take the time to make sure everyone is in sound agreement as to the message they want to put out.

2. Conduct in-depth employee surveys

Your business’ employees are at the forefront of your company and are the backbone of the business as a whole. Their perception of the company and your brand is key to how others perceive your brand. This is also how brand ambassadors are made. When developing an effective corporate communications strategy, you will need to make sure that this group’s voices are heard. Their responses will ultimately dictate the best way to communicate with them as a whole. Take advantage of surveys to get employees involved and get their feedback.

3. Research your stakeholders’ input

If stakeholders, shareholders, and investors are communicating something that isn’t very confident or exciting for your business’ success and upcoming plans, the communications strategy you create must fix that perception as quickly as possible. Stakeholders are absolutely the most vital part of your business, and it is very important to communicate with them in a way that is most effective for their interests.

4. Review your established customers’ comments

Take full advantage of all of the (often free) online measurement tools available to take an inside look into your customers’ perception of how your business is delivering on promises. Take advantage of social media networks to not only take advantage of social listening and research, but also to start the right conversations that get consumers and potential customers talking about your brand in a positive way.

5. Include your suppliers in your research

Suppliers that work with your business should also be brought into the mix when gathering information for your strategic corporate messaging. Do your suppliers believe that being affiliated with your business is beneficial to their own business? If the answer is yes, you’re in the clear– but ask them what they are enjoying the most about working with your company. Use that valuable feedback to not only add structure to your vendor and supplier relationships but also to use as part of your corporate communication strategy.

All of this research and interviewing processes are incredibly valuable. With these new insights into what your employees, executives, suppliers, and stakeholders want and prefer, you now know what your corporate communications strategy needs to set out to do– and where it will really fit in the broader framework of the company.

Next Steps

The next step would be to build an essential “roadmap” of the strategy. Before you jump into the diagnosis and guiding policies, you’ll need to figure out how to arrive at these concepts. Ask yourself: What are the biggest problems that the strategy will ultimately diagnose and hopefully cure? Who is going to be the ultimate deciding factor in establishing this diagnosis? Will everyone who needs to agree, actually agree on the strategy or “treatment”?

For smaller brands and corporations, this is often easy to do. For bigger companies, it can be a bit more complicated.

Executives on the C-level as well as the board level should be motivated but also challenged by your business’ corporate communication team to make good use of the vision for the purpose of management. The vision, in this sense, shouldn’t be a mess– it needs to be solidified and sensible. This is the responsibility of all of your executives as a team. If your executives are focused mainly on one goal, then it is partly their responsibility to form a solid vision. Once this is accomplished, the business’ corporate communication team can deliver that solid communication that is needed.

These tips may not be ideal for all businesses but are worth considering when drafting your strategy.

1. Look at other corporate communication strategies online from successful businesses

Man looking at his phone and computer at VP Legacies

It may be worth looking at some examples of excellent communication strategies in order to get inspired or possibly use their strategy as a starting template. Keep in mind that communication problems are often very unique to their specific company– using a carbon copy plan will definitely not work and the research will still need to be done.

2. Identify what your key metrics are in order to track for the best outcome

Just like most other aspects of your company, your internal communication strategy can and should be thoroughly analyzed for success. To do this, you will need to gather the basic key metrics that can show you if your current strategy is actually working the way it should. Statistics found around your corporate communications can show you if your employees actually use your intranet or other communication tools provided.

This research also shows how employees are using your tools and if you’re able to reach them in the process. This ultimately means you can pick apart your strategy and learn more about what aspects and areas need more strategic attention and what can be let go as a whole. If you’re a startup without an established corporate communication strategy, then this doesn’t apply to you.

3. Set goals that make sense and are realistic, as well as timelines

Pad of paper with random words highlighted

Setting realistic goals that make sense for your company will help you properly and accurately estimate the level of difficulty and projected time investment of integrating and establishing your strategy. This way, you can make more efficient and worthwhile steps closer to updating your corporate communications effectively. You can do this by looking at the previous metrics and making notes of where you think you can make an instant impact through attentive change.

When it comes to timelines, they should be effective. You could try to conduct surveys to see what information or data is too excessive and unnecessary for the business. Ask questions like:

  • What do I want my internal communications strategy to do for my business?
  • Which areas are working efficiently, why are those areas working efficiently, and what needs immediate improvement?
  • How quickly do I want to reach my business goals for the company?
  • What communication tools, platforms, and strategies are available given my organization’s size, needs, and goals for what employees should be doing?

Whatever answers you get can make it much clearer what your corporate communications strategy is supposed to actually accomplish. These goals can be a sort of blueprint if you will.

People sitting at desk talking in an office at VP Legacies

Obviously, there is a need for a corporate communications strategy because internal relationships and personal connections are important for a business to run smoothly. One way you can create improved internal communications is by remembering and actively practicing this mantra: Be with someone, not their problem. This approach tends to put more of an emphasis on the business relationship and personal connection as an organic living thing– a good relationship involves being present, listening, and wanting to maintain a connection. When a personal connection is established, it becomes much easier to resolve conflicts between employees or executives and avoid them altogether.

The real goal of corporate communications strategies is to make miscommunication between all members of an enterprise virtually non-existent.

4. Use collaboration tools and actively encourage their use

If you’re juggling way too many projects within a team that has a significant amount of team members, just using email for communication isn’t always the most effective thing to do. Luckily, there is quite a massive amount of collaboration tools out there that are useful, effective, and relatively inexpensive. Some collaboration tools to consider implementing into your strategy include Trello, Slack, Asana, Flowdock, WebEx, Dapulse, ProofHub, and Redbooth to name a few.

It may even improve employee communication even more by completely removing email as a means of corporate correspondence. Using a collaboration tool of the digital workspace may be the better mode of communication that serves as a “one-stop dashboard” for all communication needs. A couple of popular digital workspaces include Microsoft Teams, RingCentral Glip, Beekeeper, FWI, and Interact Software.

Related: What is the Best Strategy for CEO Communication?

5. Actively participate in your teams– even if you’re the CEO

People sitting and talking in an office at VP Legacies

6. Align your corporate communications strategy to goals and metrics

This is definitely easier to do naturally in small businesses, where it is easy to know the entire team personally. In bigger companies, this can be a bit tougher to successfully do. Still, a part of your corporate communication strategy should include your own responsibility to communicate effectively with the whole of your company. The best way to improve success rates is to be a part of the team yourself. Nobody is really interested in listening to the man or woman in the ivory tower, especially when we’re looking at tech companies. You will not be able to effectively communicate with your employees or build any rapport by avoiding them like the plague. Learn how your executives and colleagues communicate with one another and try your best to adapt to that style of communication. It is definitely possible to maintain your authority and communicate effectively with your company’s backbone at the same time.

7. Align your corporate communications strategy to goals and metrics

Take a well-thought-out and strategic approach to employee communications that implement a communication strategy that aligns with your brand’s business goals. Targeting communications to relevant foundational employees by using target audiences, managers, and communicators will ultimately enable you to facilitate more substantial and more engaging employee communications within your business.

It’s vital to not forget to build metrics and analytics into your corporate communication strategy in order to evaluate the strategy’s success. Subjective methods such as employee surveys are always useful and definitely need to be a part of your strategy, but your research shouldn’t only rely on them.

8. Make your company culture a culture of communication

People sitting and talking in an office at VP Legacies

Improving corporate communications, especially employee communications, will always start with the business making a conscious and passionate decision to create a culture of communication throughout the entirety of the company. This ultimately involves committing to transparency as an executive or CEO and putting systems and practices in place that support continuous dialog between employees and their management teams.

The power of dialogue and conversation can absolutely transform a company’s culture and ultimately the business’ financial results. A workforce that is communicating effectively with produce better output and improve the business overall. This is the purpose of a corporate communications strategy, but that strategy will be useless if those in charge don’t commit to creating a culture in real life, not just on paper.

Related: Monochronic vs. Polychronic Cultures: What are the Differences?

Takeaway

Building a corporate communication strategy is essential if you want your business to succeed. Connect with VP Legacies to learn how to apply these strategies and more, while increasing your employee and customer retention.

What is the Best Strategy for CEO Communication?

What is the Best Strategy for CEO Communication? 1920 1144 VP Legacies

Dedicated CEOs want to be able to learn new things about their role and how they can become better at their jobs.

Many CEOs attend seminars, invest in workshops, and look up to other established business owners for mentorship. While all of these are great initiatives to take, there are also some tried and true tips out there that all CEOs should try out on their own.

Luckily, there are a number of things a CEO can do to improve their communication skills as well as other aspects of their jobs. We’re going to cover the top tips for CEOs to use to get the most out of their roles.

But first, let’s look at some core definitions in order to really establish who can benefit from these tips below.

What is a CEO?

A chief executive officer, also known as a CEO, is the highest-ranking executive in any given enterprise or company. A CEO’s primary responsibilities typically include making major corporate decisions, managing the business’ operations, managing the business resources of a company, acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors (also simply known as “the board”) and corporate operations. A CEO may also deal with shareholders and stakeholders directly, depending on the size or type of business the CEO works for. A CEO is typically elected by the board and its shareholders.

Essentially, the CEO is the public face of the business. Because of this, CEOs have a responsibility of being optimum communicators and demonstrate a positive representation of the company.

What Does a CEO Do?

A CEO’s role tends to vary from one business to another, significantly depending on the business’ size, company culture, and overall corporate structure. In massive enterprises or corporations, CEOs will typically deal only with very high-level decisions and strategies, as well as decisions that direct the business’ overall growth. In smaller businesses or startups, CEOs often are more involved and work directly with the daily functions of the business. CEOs are representatives as “the face” of the company, so they are responsible for setting the tone, vision, and even the internal culture of their businesses.

Because of their frequent interactions with the public, namely fans, brand ambassadors, and customers, sometimes the Chief Executive Officers of bigger corporations become essential celebrities. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc., for example, is a well-known name today and has a substantial social media presence online. Similarly, Bill Gates, the principal founder and former CEO of Microsoft Corporation has become a household name and has been featured in numerous documentaries and feature films.

This infamy can be both good and bad. If a CEO does not have ideal communication skills or a clean public image, it can impact the company that the CEO represents. Having a strategy for CEO communication and knowing when and how to properly leverage the CEO’s credibility and presence through social media is something all CEOs should be concerned with. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a ton of tips for navigating the world of CEO communication and CEO communications best practices.

1. Consider your office as a projection of yourself

The CEO’s office is the home base– where massive decisions for a company often happen, interviews may occur, and clients or business partners may meet. One way to communicate the quality of one’s business is to make that home base as welcoming and aesthetically pleasing as possible. Not the typical sterile, white, messy CEO office that many business executives tend to have.

The coolest CEO offices are open spaces with plenty of seating, which gives it the feel of being a social and well-used space. A CEO’s office should also include objects, furniture, decor, and imagery that inspires them. These items can be directly related to the company they work for.

2. Keep an eye on your posture

Posture can affect a lot about a person’s presentation. It can affect their voice, especially if they are leaning against something, hunching their shoulders, or slouching in a chair. As a CEO, you need to have a room-commanding voice that is capable of getting attention and inspiring listeners– be they stakeholders, company fans at a speech, or partners in a meeting.

One way to improve your posture is to bear your weight on the balls of your feet and to keep your feet close to shoulder-width apart. Strengthening one’s core can also improve posture.

3. Be aware of your pitch and tone when you speak, especially when giving speeches

Numerous studies have deduced that pitch has been directly linked to business success– something that may seem bizarre to many CEOs. However, the command of one’s voice as the representative of a business can reflect how “powerful” that company actually is. Human beings love to categorize things visually, and something as large and conceptual as an enterprise is difficult to categorize. Putting a face and a voice to a company makes it easier to categorize it as powerful or weak. This is why a CEO’s voice needs to have the pitch and tone of what we consider a “powerful” voice.

Male CEOs that have low-pitched voices tend to have more success. Though researchers are currently still exploring the connection between voices and positive business image, pitch and tone have a clear effect on verbal communication on the part of CEOs.

4. Consider starting a CEO blog

Blogs can be an authentic channel for communication, so it’s worth considering starting up a blog as a CEO. Blogs can provide a somewhat more personal look into what life is like running a business, as well as “behind the scenes” look into what goes on at the business itself.

A blog can also promote brand loyalty by giving dedicated customers something to look forward to on a regular basis. A blog can provide customers with a compelling reason to engage with your brand after you’ve guided them through your blog posts.

Keep in mind that it would be wise to regularly update this blog so that brand ambassadors and fans will know when to check-in.

5. Always show off your personality

It’s your job as a CEO to engage your listeners and get them excited about your company. However, people are all different and have different interests and preferences, which can make connecting with them as a CEO a challenge.

When it comes down to it, people don’t want a rehearsed, cookie-cutter scripted speech. They want you to cater to them and their personalities, but they also want to experience someone who is real. Extend yourself, along with your authentic personality, and inject those aspects of yourself into your communication style in videos, blogs, social media posts, or interviews to connect with your audience better.

Authenticity is often overlooked by CEOs, and it certainly makes sense why. Being a CEO involves a significant amount of work and it may be exhausting or time-consuming to essentially perform for one’s customer base. However, it’s vital for CEOs to project a positive image of themselves as people as well as the avatar of the company. Being honest about who you are and letting your authentic self shine through is a great way to communicate with more authenticity to your audience.

6. Practice your communication skills, even if you think you’re a communication pro

Communication can be learned, but it is a skill. Skills can only improve if one practices regularly and takes it very seriously. If you’re a CEO that isn’t exactly perfect at verbal communication, there are a number of techniques to build your ability to effectively communicate up:

  • Practice active listening and always take the time to listen first and speak later.
  • Open up your body language to be more confident, comfortable, and secure.
  • Practice storytelling to improve your speeches. You want to be able to personally connect with the audience.
  • Be genuinely kind and don’t be afraid to put yourself on different levels.
  • Always accept feedback and even go out of your way to solicit feedback from your employees.
  • Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Nobody is captivated by someone who is a robot– a good CEO will not be afraid to be real and honest with their audience.
  • Learn how to adapt to different styles of communication for different audiences. For example, learn about the cultural faux pas about communicating with Japanese businesspeople before attending a meeting with them, rather than sticking to what you’re used to with American businesspeople.

Even if you think you’re great at communicating with others, work on maintaining that ability through practice.

Remember that communication methods should not be stagnant– they’re always growing and the way people communicate in any given culture is constantly changing.

7. Offer prompts for communication, rather than questions

Turning declarative prompts into actual questions is a surefire way to miscommunicate. It is really critical to be as direct as possible when communicating with your audience.

For example: A typical CEO or boss may say “Can you get the report to me soon? It’s really important and I’m going to need is as soon as possible.” This comes off as a little aggressive and more of a command than an opener for a conversation. It’s also fairly open-ended without a deadline to help your employees out. Instead, try saying “Could you please get that report to me? I’d prefer it at three o’clock on Wednesday.”

CEOs should always use a steady and powerful tone, but they should also issue specific prompts instead of vague questions or aggressive commands.

8. Pace your speeches and don’t rush through them

People listen significantly slower than they think, so there is no need to speed through a speech. In fact, people listen at a rate of up to 250 words per minute and think at a rate of up to 3,000 words per minute– that’s a big difference.

Rushing through your speech only leads to jumbled words, slurred speech, and skipped points, but it can also make it difficult for your listeners to actually internalize and memorize what you’ve said. That is far from the goal of a speech on behalf of your company– so keep things slow, paced, and easy to understand.

9. …but also eventually get to the point

The short-term memory of human beings processes words, but short-term memory retains about seven sections of information at any given time. Getting to your point in a timely manner ensures that more people listening will retain the information you’re putting out. Flesh out your thoughts as quickly and clearly as possible, just not at the expense of your overall point. Being able to get your point across quickly while also pacing your speech is a difficult balance to master. Just continue to practice and also be open to editing your speech script multiple times for optimum authenticity.

10. Don’t be excessively casual

The professional-casual balance can be a delicate one. Lacking a casual edge can make you seem robotic and not interesting to your company’s fanbase. However, being too casual and lacking a professional edge can totally destroy your authority.

Maintaining a powerful tone is very important in communicating as a CEO, but it can be overbearing and intimidating if done in excess. If your tone is too casual and passive, this can weaken your authenticity, sincerity, and communication ability. CEOs need to engage with their employees with the tone of someone who is in charge, but also as someone who is part of the team.

11. Encourage feedback from your employees and colleagues

Allow time for employees to share their opinions with you, maintain approachability, and ultimately reward them for their insights. If you give people a platform to share, they may be more receptive to your own message. If you reward decent feedback, employees may interact and partake in conversations more often and improve the communication balance between the company and the CEO.

12. Get people involved

There are many different strategies for CEO communication. We’ve narrowed it down to 12, but there’s more than that. Connect with us at VP Legacies and learn more about corporate communication strategies and how to improve employee and customer retention.

We all interpret things in different ways, which is why it can be hard for people to clearly remember information and interpret information in the intended way. CEOs should get their company staff involved first and foremost in order to drive home their message. It may also be a good idea for meetings to be more interactive through the use of powerpoint presentations or demos for a more hands-on experience.

Takeaway