12 July 2015

Lack of strategy in internal communications

According to a recent report, one in three internal comms leaders believe the biggest risk to the industry is an unhealthy obsession with tactics over strategy.

The report was published by Question & Retain, and we’ve got to say, we couldn’t agree more with the findings.

If you don’t have a clear strategy behind your internal communications, you risk:

1). Becoming overwhelming and confusing for employees in terms of content – especially if everyone is throwing out their comms without thinking

2). Wasting valuable time, money and resources on mixed, unsustainable messages

3). Appearing as though your internal communications is a quick fix, answering the need from above to simply ‘tick the box’

4). Alienating or actively disengaging employees by drip feeding irrelevant, off-sentiment or ill-timed content

So, with so much at stake, why is this happening?

With resources stretched and businesses still under post-recession pressure, plus the impact of technological advances demanding instant action, often the pressure is on to simply ‘get it done’.

Employees complaining they never know what’s going on? Chuck out an internal newsletter. Had a change in top-level management? Drop staff a quick email or let the managers spread the news.

Of course, sometimes circumstances mean you need to get something out there quickly, but it should never be rushed or hap-hazard.

Having a clear strategic plan in place means you will know most of the main messages you need to communicate throughout the year, and if you don’t know specifics you at least know how you should be communicating the unforeseen to your team.

Blurred lines between strategy and tactics

Unfortunately, we’ve noticed that the terms ‘strategy’ and ‘tactics’ seem to have become interchangeable in recent years. Taking a step back and remembering the difference between the two is vital.

They need to work in tandem, but at a basic level, strategy is  ‘What are we trying to accomplish?’ and tactics are ‘How are we going to achieve this?’

Done properly, this thought process should incorporate the entire employee journey – from hire to retire. That includes recruitment, induction, day-to-day working, rising through the ranks and even leaving the company.

A good strategy should be about creating a conversation with your employees, and engaging them from the outset – not simply relaying messages. It’s time to stop and think about what will have the best cut through, impact and how this fits in to the overall ‘big picture’.

When thinking about your strategy, ask yourself:

1). What are the key objectives? Do you want to retain talent for longer? Are you not attracting the right talent to start with? Do employees seem bored or restless?

2). What are your challenges? Perhaps you have remote workers? Is your business located across the world? Is your management resistant to change?

3). What is your company good at? What are the good things people say about you? How are you perceived by media, by peers and by colleagues?

4). What is your company not good at? And be honest! Have you had any negative feedback? What do employees tend to complain about? Check yourself out on Glassdoor. What are your employees saying about you?

5). What does your ideal outcome look like? Go wild, and outline the perfect workplace, and management’s ideal relationship with employees

When thinking about tactics, ask yourself:

1). What communication channels do you have set up already? Intranet, email marketing, social media tools like Facebook, Twitter or Yammer, employee newsletters, careers sites, daily, monthly, quarterly meetings, employee awards and conferences

2). What technology does your staff have access to? For example, if you have a remote workforce where internet access is an issue, perhaps social media isn’t a valid communication method for you

3). What is the demographic of your audience? Workforces now encompass a huge range of generations who each prefer to receive information in different ways

4). What are you managers like? The likelihood is you’ll need to rely on managers at some point, but don’t just presume everyone is capable of cascading information in the way you’d like

These are just some of the questions that can help you shape your strategic goals, and decide on the tactics you need to reach them.

Put simply, successful internal communications comes from insight, involvement, creativity and relevance. Here at Synergy, that’s our specialism.

We can help you devise the strategy you need and bring it to life creatively and simply – and most importantly encourage involvement and engagement throughout the process.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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