Steps to Building a Killer Internal Communications Strategy
“Is that work ready?”
“Almost! I just need a few more days.”
“It’s due today!”
“Are you sure? I had no idea.”
“Yes, definitely. I sent you a reminder.”
“It didn’t come through. I’ll check my spam.”
Do you find yourself:
- Sending an urgent email to a colleague only to wait days for a response?
- Submitting important debriefing information that never gets read?
- Saying something to your team that is interpreted incorrectly?
If so, prepare yourself to face a harsh reality. In organizations that have no internal communication guidelines, emails get sent but not read, opened by not absorbed.
As such, vital information frequently “slips through the cracks”.
In a one-off circumstance, this is recoverable. You don’t have anything to panic about just yet. However, if it happens frequently… it could lead to devastating consequences.
The Consequences of Unclear Internal Communications
Miscommunications are frustrating and, unless you get them under control, your brand reputation is at risk.
After all, when deadlines get delayed… everybody suffers.
Costs rise (upsetting your shareholders), stress levels surmount amongst your team members, and clients complain that you aren’t able to deliver on your promises.
It’s not a good look.
Before you know it, one of your employees is dangerously close to quitting. Then, a bad review is left by a disgruntled customer – dissuading others from working with you.
Thankfully, these situations (which are often caused by genuine misunderstandings) can be avoided with an internal communications strategy.
What is an Internal Communication Strategy?
An internal communication strategy is an outline of the very best approach an organization can take to share key messages with its staff members. This would ensure all relevant team members can access (and digest) the information provided.
Why is an Internal Communications Strategy Important?
At the end of the day, employees can’t perform without the knowledge required to do their job.
To complete their work to the highest-level quality, it’s critical that staff members understand the ins and outs of your organization; allowing them to:
- Respond appropriately in crises.
- Make informed decisions.
- Prioritize tasks.
- Work towards common goals.
- Communicate effectively.
As their leader, you must facilitate your team’s success through detailed, frequent, internal communications. No matter what, you’ll always benefit from keeping employees “in the loop”.
10 Steps to Building a Tremendous Internal Communications Strategy
However, before you start sending out weekly essays to your staff members, there’s something you need to know.
Any form of internal communication isn’t as simple as sending out a company-wide email. This will just lead to repetitive one-off instances where employees insist they never saw your message (or worse, forgot).
You have to communicate in a way that’s memorable.
Step 1. Evaluate Your Status
Are you and your employees already communicating with each other? If so, there might still be some work to be done. First, take a look at the platform you use to interact:
- Microsoft Teams
Then, decide whether or not it is proving effective. Ask yourself whether you constantly find yourself answering the same questions over and over again, or sending reminders because you suspect your team isn’t organized.
Step 2. Identify Weaknesses
See, passing on vital updates during a weekly meeting is all well and good… until you realize an employee was away that day and never received the message.
In this instance, you might request your assistant sends over their notes but, before you know it, details have been “lost in translation” – causing issues for your business operations later down the line. You can’t win.
Step 3. Set SMART Goals
Once you’re keenly aware of what you are trying to fix, set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-measured goals and build culture through communication. These will point you in the right direction for building an internal communications plan that works. If you believe that only 50% of your employees know what’s going on in the company, aim to double this number.
Step 4. Outline Your Messaging
Next, you need to identify any core information you’d like to be sharing with your employees on a regular basis. From there, you can create a system to distribute this, establishing a weekly newsletter that your team can learn to look out for. Consistency is key.
Step 5. Review Your Audience
To have any chance of retaining their interest, the information you share with your staff members must be engaging enough to warrant their attention. Explore what might intrigue your employees and use that to your advantage. You could use gamification to make sales targets fun and interesting.
Step 6. Choose the Best Digital Platform(s)
You don’t want your messages to get lost in the noise. When you send information through email, hundreds of other notifications will quickly pile on top of it. As a result, your employees will inevitably get distracted and forget you ever sent them anything in the first place.
Therefore, you need to consider onboarding a system that’s solely dedicated to internal communication, such as:
Each of these applications allows you to flag vital information that your employees need to prioritize, tracking whether or not they’ve opened your message. Some even allow your team members to communicate with each other – enhancing collaboration across the board.
Step 7. Inform Your Team and Provide Training
A key part of building and implementing an internal communication strategy is to get your staff members involved in the process.
After all, they are the ones who will be affected by your decision and the format in which you share messages.
If you’ve decided to use a new software platform… be sure to help them learn how to use it. Otherwise, they might not be able to access the information you so desperately need them to know.
That’d be a nightmare.
Step 8. Facilitate Back-and-Forth
Communication is a two-way street. It’s something we can all agree on, right?
When you’ve messed up with your messaging and not made something clear enough, it’s important that your employees can reach out to you with queries and/or feedback.
As such, you can clarify what you meant and avoid any further confusion.
Step 9. Set Up Automated Reminders
On average, humans have to see something seven times before they start to remember it.
While sharing something that many times might be a little drastic (and overbearing), you might see positive results if you set up 2-3 automated reminders that:
- Resend information after a certain amount of time has passed.
- Alerts employees if they’ve missed a communication while they were out of the office.
- Nudges staff members who haven’t gotten around to reading something you’ve sent.
This way, you increase your likelihood of reaching everyone; setting the foundation for business success.
Step 10. Track Key Metrics and Make Adjustments
An internal communication strategy isn’t complete without data. Allocate some time to revisit your current set-up and make sure it’s working. Speak to your team and ask them whether or not they’ve noticed a difference.
Top 3 Internal Communication Best Practices
Once you’ve outlined your internal communication strategy plan, following it becomes one of the easiest parts.
Just be strict with yourself and consider establishing a clear set of protocols for you and your team to follow. This will reduce resistance to change.
Additionally, remember to:
- Avoid rushing. Don’t accidentally send a company-wide alert that was intended just for the leadership team.
- Be honest. When you are delivering bad news, remain as truthful with your team as possible.
- Listen to feedback. Try to be responsive and helpful as possible when employees are struggling with a system.
Your Internal Communication Strategy (Example)
In an ideal world, you’d have time to reflect on every message you want to send to your staff members.
Instead of sending over a quick email, you’d carefully evaluate the information that you are about to share and decide what is relevant and what isn’t. This way, you can be as concise and clear as possible – increasing your chance of employee understanding and reducing the number of questions you have to answer.
You’d be able to carefully select relevant team members that need to receive and read your message, using software to ensure its prompt delivery. Then, on the same platform, staff members would be able to communicate with each other for convenient and effective collaboration.
Doesn’t that sound ideal?
Luckily, it’s not out of reach. Once you have an internal communications strategy in place, it shouldn’t take you hours to reach out to your team individually. Issues can be addressed at once, and you can eradicate the chances of someone turning around to insist “I didn’t receive it.”
You’ll be able to see that they did.
How to Build an Internal Communications Strategy – FAQs
Following a clear-cut internal communication strategy doesn’t have to be difficult…. especially not when there are hundreds of software platforms specifically designed to aid you in your goal.
Through them, leaders can:
- Publish information.
- Send reminders.
- Track engagement rates to ensure no communication gets missed.
However, if you aren’t quite ready to proceed; here are some insightful FAQs that could be of use.
What is internal communication?
It’s a comprehensive summary that outlines how effectively a company communicates, from staff member to staff member.
How can a company improve their internal communications?
Identify weaknesses and set clear SMART goals for the future. Then, be sure to define the purpose of each message you send.
What makes a good internal communications strategy?
Detail. Be comprehensive with your planning as this will help you in the long run. Question every decision you make until you’ve created the perfect system.
What are the benefits of strong internal communication?
Sturdy team relationships, increased employee contribution, retention, and engagement rates, as well as informed decision-making.
Internal Communication Platform Support from Userlane
Do you dream of a workplace where team members can easily communicate with each other?
Through your internal communication strategy plan, you’ll be able to empower and engage employees to pass on critical information, ask queries when they need support, and effortlessly collaborate on work.
What’s not to love?
There’s just one more challenge to overcome before you can bring your business to the next level… training.
As your team continues to grow, you might find yourself spending hours covering the same information over and over again. This doesn’t have to be the case.
With Userlane’s Digital Adoption Platform, you can automate employee onboarding to a new software system, providing them with a useful step-by-step guide alongside real-time guidance.
Find out more by requesting a demonstration today.