Listen, learn, then plan
Effective internal communications begin with an attitude – an attitude of willingness to understand the organization’s culture and the information needs of the employees. It isn’t complicated, but it can take time to arrive at that place of understanding and readiness to develop a plan that aims to secure ongoing engagement.
Before anything, listen
Talking with managers is a good way to start in a large organization. They interact daily with frontline staff. (In smaller organizations, talk directly with key employees.) Managers know about the very real barriers that inhibit certain behaviors, even if senior leadership is asking for them. They understand what motivates and inspires cooperation and engagement. They understand their department’s culture. Their input may prompt a reality-check, and their ideas may spur a better message or channel. Begin with listening.
Learn about options
What to do with all that insight? Chances are leadership already has designs on a message, especially if the communication is around business strategy or upcoming change. The challenge is to think through options for creating a compelling story, and identifying the most cost-effective channels for sharing it. Since the managers are already clued in, and since they’re key to effective internal communications, consider ways to systematically engage them. Also incorporate the insights you learned by listening so closely in your first step. This sifting, sorting, learning phase allows full vetting of the options, and decisions that will lead to a successful plan.
Writing the plan is the opportunity to envision how the message, creative, channels and timeline bring it all together. Because each component of the plan has been thoughtfully developed and is designed with the target audience in mind, the overall plan stands to be more readily approved by leadership and more readily understood by employees. Most importantly, when it’s executed, it will be more effective in achieving the communication objectives.
Now, didn’t that refreshed attitude take you far?