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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.