Seven steps to create your internal communication plan to meet your business goals.
Amazing company culture is built on solid internal communication. Bad communication is also the reason that a project, team, or entire organization can fail. Great communication is critical to success. Poor communication can stop even the best idea before it starts.
In our modern global world of hybrid workers, totally remote teams, and increasing technological complexity, communication has never been more important. If you don’t have a strong internal communication plan, your entire organization will struggle. A good internal communication plan aligned with your business goals will improve every aspect of your operation, and give your customers and team members the best possible experience, every day. Let’s define the what, why, and how of this essential business process.
What is an Internal Communication Plan?
While sharing information regularly with your team, it will be more effective if your communication is driven by planning and goals. A great internal communication plan leverages all forms of communication in the workplace to meet an organization’s business goals.
A high-quality internal communication plan has additional positive impacts on the way things are done at your organization. When organizations establish high-quality, two-way communication, they strengthen the employee voice and see improvements in morale and engagement.
Employee voice is a critical element of a positive workplace culture. It is created when employees believe they have a say, and that their feedback leads to action. A strong employee voice drives engagement because your team members know that they can make themselves heard, develop meaningful workplace relationships, and have an impact on the entire organization.
Why Do I Need an Internal Communication Plan?
There are many challenges and changes in the modern workplace, many of which can be addressed with the right communication plan. Here are a few issues that almost every company faces on a daily basis.
Growth in Remote Work
Does your company have a plan to communicate effectively with off-site team members? Experts project that 40.7 million Americans will be working remotely by 2026. Employees value flexibility in their work culture, so a solid and cohesive communication plan will positively benefit your organization.
Properly Manage Global Teams
Remote and hybrid work have led to greater geographic flexibility in hiring, leading to a need to manage global teams. If you have team members all over the world, your communication plan needs to keep them focused on the same goals, build relationships, and collaborate across time zones.
Respond to Generational Changes
Millennial and Gen Z employees grew up with digital communication tools and prefer chat tools and texting to phone calls and meetings. Every company needs to adapt to these changes, with Millennials currently composing nearly half the workforce in 2022. Are you keeping up with the needs of all of your team members? Or are you relying on communication methods and processes that alienate your younger workforce?
Keep Employees Engaged
Strong employee engagement boosts productivity and decreases turnover—two serious concerns throughout the workforce. Disengaged employees cost companies around $500 billion a year, due to low morale, increased turnover, and lack of productivity.
Companies across many industries face these challenges to some degree. Explore how developing a good internal communication plan will benefit your organization and help you overcome them.
Benefits of an Employee Communication Plan
Many of us have struggled in jobs where communication was a daily challenge. Beyond making daily work life more pleasant, a positive communication culture has other quantifiable benefits. One way to build that culture is by developing an internal communication plan. Here are five distinct ways that a high-quality internal communication plan will benefit your company.
Strong communication results in high productivity due to the fact that each team member will understand the company goals, and their role in achieving them. Both leaders and individual contributors will know where they stand, what needs to be adjusted, and how to forecast for the future. This cuts down on time-wasting mistakes, misdirected actions, and other activities that don’t have value.
Great communication between peers and with management results in more collaboration and sharing, which creates trust. A trusting environment that supports innovation inspires innovation, pride, enthusiasm, and loyalty—all of which create a positive work experience and high morale.
Reduce Employee Turnover
According to Gallup’s 2022 survey, only 32% of employees are engaged at work. Disengaged employees tend to seek other jobs, which costs your organization financially and emotionally. Turnover can be reduced by addressing one of its primary causes: poor communication. When employees have clear direction and meaningful collaborative relationships, they are more likely to stay engaged, and prefer to stay in their jobs.
Enable Better Customer Service
When you have strong engagement, increased productivity and reduced staff turnover, you will see better customer service. An engaged, productive team with good tenure will have a strong understanding of company processes and feel empowered to serve customers well. Additionally, the whole customer service experience will get quicker. With more team knowledge and effective communication tools, customer concerns can be handled rapidly.
Create Better Business Results Overall
If your team is extremely productive, has high morale, a low turnover rate, and provides excellent customer service, it’s safe to say that your company will see great business results. Great communication is the foundation for all of these factors, offering all team members the information and relationship opportunities they need to succeed.
Ready to enjoy these results at your business? Review these 13 Tips for Effective Communication in the Workplace and prepare to form your own internal communication plan.
7 Steps to Create Your Employee Communication Plan
With all of the huge impacts outlined above, creating your plan may feel intimidating. Don’t feel overwhelmed – here are seven well-defined steps that any company can follow in order to form an effective employee communication plan.
Step 1: Analyze Your Business Needs – Where Are You Now?
Most companies have an existing communication process and reviewing it is a great place to start. How do you currently communicate with team members, stakeholders, management and senior leadership? What tools do you use? What works well, what could be improved, and what is failing?
In order to get answers to these questions, list your current strengths and weaknesses. Next, survey your team about what they currently like, and what they would like to see change. (You might also survey external stakeholders like customers and vendors where it is relevant.) This will help you identify ways you’d like to improve, and how those improvements can be measured. Finally, make a strategy for how you will transition into your new communication plan.
Step 2: Identify What Success Looks Like for Your Organization
Goal setting is a great way to identify what success looks like for your organization. SMART goals are a great way to make bigger, abstract ideas attainable and actionable and can be used to improve performance in almost any area. SMART goals should both be broad enough to drive overall organizational success, and specific enough that you will be able to measure your specific contributions.
When creating a SMART goal, you need to develop a goal with five specific attributes:
Step 3: Identify Your Audience
For most companies, a one-size-fits-all communication plan won’t work. You will more than likely have different audiences, including:
- Subject matter experts
- Stakeholders in various roles
Each of these audiences need information tailored to them. These groups may also have different communication styles. You will need to decide how to engage with different audiences, and the best way to figure that out is to ask. Survey each group using tools like pulse surveys and employee feedback channels. This will help you to accurately identify your current communication challenges, and areas where you can improve.
Don’t forget to listen to your customers too. Examine additional resources, like your existing customer feedback, to spot areas where internal communication can improve customer service.
Step 4: Refine Your Message
Now that you understand your current state, goals, and audience, you are ready to identify what you want to communicate. Is it schedules and deadlines? Is it product information and benefits? Do you need better team collaboration? Remember, you might have different messages that matter to different audiences.
If all of this seems overwhelming, get specific by focusing on the classic 5 Ws in your messaging: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. Some might add a 6th W: Who is impacted? This should help you refine your messages and create a schedule.
Once you have a content plan, start thinking about which tools and tactics will serve you best.
Step 5: Select the Tools and Tactics You Want to Use
Once you have a handle on what you want your communication plan to do, it’s time to think about how you want to execute it. There are numerous tools and tactics available, both traditional and digital. Here is a quick summary of your primary options, and the best use for each.
There are classic non-technological communication tactics used successfully in many organizations. Here are four of the most common:
- In-person interactions and 1:1 meetings: Great for making personal connections
- Team meetings and large group discussions: A way to communicate complicated ideas
- Notes and memos: Perfect for information with details like dates
- Company newsletters: Highlights organizational culture and reputation
Digital tools are increasingly common. Most of the options available fit into these larger categories:
- Email: An efficient way to get information to or from individual contributors
- Intranet pages: A great way to share information to your internal team that they reference and can be updated often
- Remote meetings: A way to keep your entire team on the same page
- Video conferencing or recording: The best way to visually explain concepts
- Internal social media: Great for building culture and rapport
- Chat tools: Best for quick interactions and questions that need immediate responses
It is critical that you select the right tool for each message and each audience. Some types of digital tools you can choose from will include:
- Collaboration software
- Video software
- Project management software
- Digital file storage
- Async communication tools
Don’t select tools at random or based on popularity. Choose your tools based on their ability to provide the processes and resources that help you reach your communication goals, and are preferred by the audience that will be using them. You will also need to consider additional tactics like timing, frequency, meeting or content length, and where all of this information sharing will fit into team members’ workdays.
Step 6: Measure Your Progress
Establish current benchmarks and future goals for productivity, engagement, turnover, and customer service scores so that you can measure the impact of your new internal communication plan.
Once you have identified your key performance indicators (KPIs), plan your method of measurement. This might involve evaluating adoption rates of new technologies, participation in key events, interaction levels, engagement from employees and other stakeholders, increases in compliance, or improvements in customer satisfaction.
Step 7: Adjust as Necessary
Creating a powerful communication plan is not a one-and-done action. It needs to be a dynamic, evolving project. Stay open, stay flexible, keep an eye on your KPIs, and adjust your strategies based on what is working – and what is not.
Now that you understand the benefits of a strong internal communication plan, and have taken the time to develop a plan that will meet your unique goals, it’s time to put your plan into action.
Best Practices for an Internal Communication Plan
Here are four critical best practices to consider while implementing your employee communication plan.
Prepare Your Management Team
It is imperative to get all of your leaders on-board with your new plan. Make sure that you fully brief your leadership on the coming changes in communication culture. Train your managers in any new processes and tools, if necessary.
Don’t let this preparation process become a one-way street. Encourage your managers to get involved in building this new culture. Be open to feedback, questions, and suggestions for improvement. Your leadership team members are partners in this endeavor.
Build a Culture of Collaboration and Communication
Communication and collaboration depend on and drive each other. Building a collaborative team encourages regular communication, and strong communication in turn fosters increased collaboration. You can grow both in many ways.
First, make sure that your company’s communication isn’t just vertical. Encourage employees to communicate within and across teams, using multiple communication methods. Next, reward behaviors that support collaboration and team building. Make sure to recognize small actions, as well as the big results that those actions create.
Be Available to Your Audience
A high-quality communication plan will welcome feedback from all team members. Make sure you have avenues for your audience to reach you, such as consistent employee meetings, chat tools, surveys, virtual suggestion boxes, and internal social media for real-time discussion. Show your team that you value their contributions by responding quickly to questions and concerns.
Remember to Measure Improvement
Remember those initial benchmarks and KPIs you measured? It’s time to put them to use. Follow through on your measurement plan, and share the results with your leadership team. These results should guide the next steps in your communication plan. Do you need more meetings? Clearer emails? Faster response to team questions? Always be willing to adjust as needed.
Implement an Effective Communication Plan with Zight (formerly CloudApp)
Now that you have explored the benefits of an effective communication plan and how to create one, you should feel empowered to put a plan into action in your own organization.
Zight (formerly CloudApp)’s tools can fill several necessary roles in your internal communication plan. Create strong connections with asynchronous messaging, image sharing, collaboration, and the creation of quick, shareable videos. With Zight (formerly CloudApp), team members can easily share videos, screenshots, and GIFs with your team.
Our enterprise-level app helps everyone on your team to save time by easily capturing and sharing critical visual communication. Ready to learn more about how we can help? Request a demo today.
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