5 Essential Steps to Building your Internal Communication Plan
How do you develop an internal communication plan? These 5 steps will ensure your plan unites your staff with your core business goals.
1. Review your current internal communication methods
Do your employees avoid reading internal emails and communications as they’re long and wordy or not relevant? Do they avoid using the intranet as it seems complicated?
If this is happening in your business, your internal communication method needs addressing. And the best way to find out what could be improved is by asking the staff; the people who use the internal communication tools every day. By finding out what their pain points are and what could be better, you’ll be embracing the importance of internal communication.
Working groups, staff surveys, and focus groups are a productive way to find out what people think.
2. Analyze the results
Once you have employee feedback, it’s time to determine what needs to improve and how. Questions to ask are:
- Does everyone have access to the information they need?
- Do some staff receive information they don´t need?
- Is there a recurring problem e.g. lack of information, not enough contact from management, people feel undervalued, communication is not clear, poor employee engagement, distractions from unnecessary communications?
- Does the business need to improve transparency? Do people feel they are not kept informed of what they need to know to be part of the overall success of the company?
The answers to these questions will help define the strategy to improve internal communication and what collaboration tools will bring benefits.
Goals can then be set using the SMART formula:
- Specific – do certain departments need specific communication methods?
- Measurable – how will the changes be analyzed?
- Attainable – are the suggested changes practical?
- Relevant – are the goals appropriate to the target audience?
- Time – how long will it take to make the changes?
3. Decide what technology could improve things
If your business would benefit from better communication tools now’s the time to invest. These needn’t be expensive and can be tailored to suit your needs. Do you already have an intranet? Would your business benefit from the streamlined internal communication methods an intranet offers? Consider technology that:
- Keeps everyone in a group informed
- Allows project management and planning
- Offers social media for employee interaction
- Is easy to use
Many different tools can be integrated into an intranet to make communication easier. For example, HR could benefit from Google Calendar, Planning and Development may wish to use Trello, and all departments can chat on Slack.
However you communicate with other members of your business, the platform should offer a rewarding and unique communication experience. When you send out a message, whether a chat or a report, people should want to read it. The content needs to be succinct and engaging, which is why an internal content strategy is also important. There’s nothing worse than a clogged-up inbox that screams ‘delete without reading’.
4. Set a budget and timelines
The budget available will influence how far things can change. For example, your business may require a completely new intranet, or parts of the existing one may only need updates, such as adding a social network, an area to highlight individuals’ successes, team celebrations, or a job application section. Timelines should also be set to ensure the changes take place on time.
It’s also essential to inform employees about what’s happening so they can be part of the new internal communication strategy. You’ve listened to their opinions so now it’s time to put the new communication channels in place.
5. Review and Improve
For an internal communication strategy to be successful it should be regularly reviewed. It should have short and long-term goals to measure its success.
Employee research can facilitate this. Asking people what they think about changes also creates a feeling of being valued and an important part of the company.
Social advocacy should also be measured as this is a core part of the success of a business. If staff are liking and sharing messages you’re communicating to them then the formula is working.
Not everything will work. Give the changes time, and if they’re not successful then make changes. Improved communication strategy is a rolling program that will grow with the business.