Most companies are operating in fragile economies, under increasing price pressures, with employees who are still concerned about the stability of their professional futures. This environment makes the development and execution of an effective internal communications strategy more critical than ever. Without clear communications and a well-designed strategy, uninformed employees can easily become misguided, developing their own (often inaccurate) rumors and ideas about the state of the business.
Unfortunately, internal communications strategies can be seen as a ‘nice to have’, and they are often the first exclusions from budgets. However, having a strong internal communications strategy does not have to be difficult or expensive. In fact, many communications strategies are surprisingly simple and don’t require much resource at all.
Below is an example of an internal communications plan that we developed for the roll out of a new process management tool.
There are three main ways to ensure successful internal communications:
Understand your audience: segmenting your audience is the cornerstone of any effective communications plan. It is crucial you clarify your objectives and understand how you want your employees to react. It is easy to forget communications can be interpreted differently by different groups, so consider how to tailor your communications without diluting your message.
Ensure your leaders are visible: understanding how you want your staff to change is one thing; sustaining that change is another. In times of change, people look to their leaders for guidance, so ensure those driving the change are a clearly visible part of any communications strategy. Developing two-way communication between employees and senior management about the future strategy can also facilitate engagement and motivation.
Plan for success: you can’t prepare for everything, but it helps to have a flexible plan. Set expectations upfront about the timeline for communications and what your employees can expect when. Sustained communications will increase credibility of messages and help avoid knee-jerk reactions to anything unexpected.
And most importantly keep your messages clear and consistent.
– Teneka Polite, Change Management Consultant
PA Consulting Group