How to Build a Successful Internal Communication Strategy?

Is your internal communication strategy working? Does external communication with clients and suppliers seem more important? Internal and external communication strategies are equally important. This article focuses on internal communication ideas to help grow your business. Discover its Benefits, all the Steps to build your internal communication and the best practices for your Company.

Internal Communication Strategy

Internal Communication Strategy: Definition and Benefits

What is internal communication?

The simple definition is that it’s the transmission of information within a company. It builds a culture that makes employees feel part of the ‘family’. Taking this one stage further, internal communication is the backbone of the success of a business.

What’s the goal of internal communication?

The aim is to ensure all employees understand the company goals, where they fit within the organization and that they are clear on their roles. Good internal communication provides clear, understandable information.

When we look at the success of a business, one of the key factors is that the employer understands the importance of internal communication. Employees who know what their company is doing and where it’s going are far more likely to be motivated than those who are out of the loop.

Successful internal communication doesn’t happen on its own. The employer has to acknowledge the need for a strategy, define it, and put it in place. The main internal communication strategy objectives of a company that wants to build better communication are to:

  • Offer clear and cohesive information about the business objectives
  • Connect with staff at all levels
  • Deliver information in an easy-to-understand way

With a clear strategy in place, a business will reap the rewards of having motivated employees who enjoy their work.

 

The benefits of a successful communication strategy are numerous, and include:

  • Understanding – when staff understand where they fit into the company they feel valued.
  • Increased productivity – clear communication translates to time-saving as people know what information to look for and where to find it.
  • Cost savings – information that is conveyed only once because it is easy to interpret means more time working and less confusion.
  • Clarity – succinct, well-communicated information reduces mis-understandings.
  • The prevention of information overload – a common problem in today’s workplace.

An internal communication strategy template is a useful tool as it can promote clear and logical thinking. It can guide the planner through the different steps of organizing and implementing a communication strategy.

 

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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:

  1. Specific – do certain departments need specific communication methods?
  2. Measurable – how will the changes be analyzed?
  3. Attainable – are the suggested changes practical?
  4. Relevant – are the goals appropriate to the target audience?
  5. 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.

 

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10 Internal Communication Best Practices for your Company

Once your business embraces the value of internal communication, best practices can be put in place. Below are 10 best practices and ideas to benefit both management and staff:

1. Identify an Ambassador

This should be someone who understands why internal communication is important. It will be a person who genuinely believes in the overall objectives of the company and who promotes internal comms positively. They should liaise with teams and departments and ‘spread the word’. Being an ambassador will also encourage self-motivation.

2. Inspire action

Once the internal communication strategy is in place, there should be goals to ensure communication continues to improve. Employees should be encouraged to ask themselves:

  • Is my message short and succinct?
  • Are my team members clear about what I want them to do?
  • Do the people who work for me understand their role?
  • Are the company’s objectives clear?

3. Brand Promotion

A company’s brand represents its philosophy and states who it is. Employees should be clear on the company brand and why it exists. They should also be advocates in promoting it whenever they can, both internally and externally. If you work for a business that makes delicious ice-cream then tell everyone about it!

4. Use Simple Communication Tools

Keeping things simple is the best way to encourage employees to read messages. The collaboration tools you use to communicate should be easy for the sender of the information to use and easy for the receiver to access it. If a system is complicated people won´t use it. An easy-to-use system also saves valuable work time when trying to learn how to operate it.

 

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5. Improve Transparency

Transparency encourages company loyalty. If a company is open and honest with their employees, they will gain respect. Of course, confidential information sometimes has to remain confidential for the good of the business. But if employees are told why, they’re more likely to be understanding. If not gossip and rumors start, which can be damaging to the business.

6. Plan and monitor

The success of internal communication can’t be left to chance. It should be planned and organized and have regular reviews. It’s essential to know who is engaging with internal comms and if people aren’t, why not.

Planning the introduction of new ways of communicating internally will ensure the strategy is monitored.

7. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs define whether a business is achieving its goals. They are regularly monitored to evaluate success. Examples of KPIs that can be linked to internal communication and its success are:

  • Number of shares, likes, and comments of a blog post/article
  • Increase in numbers of employees using an intranet
  • Opening rates of internal newsletters
  • Counting page views
  • Feedback questionnaires
  • Employee retention and turnover
  • Interaction online
  • Completed employee profiles

8. Reach and engage all employees

Everyone is a crucial cog in the wheel of a business and employees should understand this. Without catering there’ll be no coffee, without the finance department you won’t get paid, without the marketing department, no one will know about new products…

It’s essential everyone knows they matter and have a role. This means internal communication should target the right people with the right information at the right time. Manufacturing doesn´t need to know that development is thinking of producing a new widget in 10 different colors, but they do need to know when that decision is agreed so they can produce or source the color.

9. Highlight individuals and teams

If a team or individual does something great everyone should know about it. Don’t leave it to the press to report that Milly in sales has raised $5,000 for charity – invite people to share their achievements, get social, and communicate them internally. This can apply to both work and personal successes. For example:

  • Promotions
  • Qualifications
  • Career moves
  • Company milestones
  • Getting married/having a baby
  • Sports and leisure achievements
  • Performing on stage

If a company is proud of its employees and what they do both at work and out of work it shows they care.

10. Encourage conversation

Trust employees and encourage them to communicate with each other via message boards. A quick chat can often achieve much more than a formal email. People are much more used to social media chatting these days and getting an answer to a work question this way can save time if a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible. It can also encourage the use of the message system. This can improve performance as no time is wasted.

Internal Communication is the transmission of information within a company. It builds a culture that makes employees feel part of the ‘family’. Taking this one stage further, internal communication is the backbone of the success of a business.

See the full definition

  • Understanding
  • Increased productivity
  • Cost savings
  • Clarity

Discover all the benefits

  1. Review the current internal communication methods
  2. Analyze the results
  3. Decide what technology could improve things
  4. Set a budget and timelines
  5. Review and Improve

See all in details

  • Inspire action
  • Brand Promotion
  • Use Simple Communication Tools
  • Improve Transparency
  • Plan and monitor
  • Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

See the 10 Internal Communication Best Practices