Stop before you start – why an audit is the first step towards strategic internal communications
The last two years have led to a renewed focus on corporate purpose, and have established new ways of working and seen a prolonged period of change that, for many organisations, won’t settle down any time soon.
For companies with an established internal communications function, now is a good time to review and take stock, whilst companies that have not invested previously may now have a pressing need to step up their staff communication to support a change of direction, growth or a milestone event such as a merger or acquisition.
Effective internal communications is far more than sending out a company-wide newsletter, posting an intranet update or hosting a town hall meeting.
It is the strategic process of communicating regularly with all internal audiences with the aim of achieving a common corporate goal. If this is done well, it can have a measurable impact throughout the business by increasing employee engagement, creating a sense of purpose and, ultimately, improving the bottom line of the business.
Improving an organisation’s internal communications must start with an understanding of the existing processes in place. The aim of an audit is to help business leaders understand how information flows throughout the company and identify the gaps and areas for improvement.
An internal comms audit will help communicators to understand the audiences, the channels available to reach those people, their current sentiment or understanding of the business goals and what ‘think, feel, do’ changes are required to help meet the corporate objectives.
Any audit must start with understanding corporate goals and the internal steps set out to achieve them so that we can identify the gaps – messages that aren’t reaching the team, miscommunications or channels that aren’t delivering the way you want them to.
The exercise will help to establish your internal communications objectives and desired behaviour change and give you a roadmap to start allocating your resources more effectively.
Every audit should be organisation specific, but here are some examples of the steps it might include:
This is an important last step for your audiences and stakeholders, and especially for those who participated in the research.
Changes to internal communications don’t necessarily need to be made immediately. There will be obvious areas of concern to change first as well as a longer term strategy to develop.
An internal communications audit could be the first step to setting fresh objectives and developing a new internal communications strategy.
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