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Posts Tagged ‘internal communication’

Internal Communication Strategy: Guiding Principles and Methods

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Image Source: scyther from Getty Images | Canva

Strategy execution is jeopardized when the progress of employees curbs. When teams lose their edge, their contribution to fueling the execution of strategy fades. Progress may slow down and affect the process of achieving corporate objectives. 

Among the many existing solutions, the focus will be on overhauling the internal communication strategies to convince employees of the relevance of their company’s strategic approach. Internal communication empowers companies to engage their people’s creativity, energy, and commitment to produce value. Through communication strategies, management starts a process of conversion in which employees’ tasks are put into context and become the brush that helps paint the bigger picture.

What is a communication strategy? A communication strategy is a clearly formulated plan that is brought to light through various techniques so that everyone can row in the same direction with the same effort. Hearing and listening are two different things. One can hear the manager talking about the departmental objectives so that all team members can contribute to the organizational strategy. But it is harder to listen and keep the focus on the direction that should be followed. So, the question is, how does the leadership manage to do that?

Before the communication strategy is finally on the cusp of being released, leadership assures that the corporate vision, values, and objectives are absorbed. Then, through personalized internal communication techniques, they deliver the outcome that points the employees in the right direction to cross the desired finish line. In fact, the bond between organizational and communication objectives is vital. Suppose one of the main organizational objectives is to train the customer service team to work effectively with the clients. In that case, the communication objective linked is to ensure that all team members are aware and enforce the standards of care expected. 

Guiding principles for developing an internal communication strategy

Depending on the company, the internal communication techniques will address distinct needs. For example, in big consultancy and audit corporations, the challenge brought is to make the employees aware of the client’s problems and, at the same time, to appropriate the domain’s knowledge and capabilities that could help solve them.                                               

The ability to shield strategies from disasters cannot be translated through a single communication technique. Rarely is the journey paved. The variable that changes the game is how companies want to navigate the set aims. Some of them like to begin with the end, to make the outcome clear from the beginning, and if possible, to paint a picture of it and display it everywhere in the company, as Thomas Butta from Splunk reveals. They find it vital for everyone to be clear about the commitment that should be taken in order to achieve the outcome planned.

In a conversation with Costel Alexe, the former member of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania who now occupies the position of president of the Iași County Council, he revealed the emphasis placed on the bilateral communication set to create a close relationship between the management and the employees and make sure that they understand how important their role is. They prefer to rely on face-to-face meetings between the management and the coordinators of each department of the institution.

“Every week, the management has meetings with the coordinators, where they discuss the status of each project, the opportunities of implementing new projects and each department’s needs and challenges. Through the coordinator’s voices, the administration keeps in touch with all the employees, ensuring the communication flow. Also, as a public institution, the County Council has to comply with the national legislation, besides its internal procedures, when informing the employees about a particular situation. There are certain types of documents and means of communication used in the process of internal communication such as circulars and official forms,” Alexe told The KPI Institute.

The focus of the institution is on implementing a new internal communication strategy based on digitalization. “This is necessary in order to make the activity more efficient and reduce bureaucracy, but also considering the pandemic context  and the need to comply with the social distancing measures. We have already explored the financing opportunities for such a project,” Alexe added.

It is often good to find a response as it will position you on the right track. In these fast-paced times, the clearer and visual the message is, the faster the essence is absorbed.

Here are just a few communication approaches advanced by researchers and intended to encourage behaviors that advance the strategy and promote improved result

Methods for improving internal communication

  1. The Virtuous Circle of Communication                                       

By not sticking the puzzle pieces together, the picture will result as distorted. This applies to organizations as well. Even if good things are effectuated individually, they lose value if not linked together. In order to have a fruitful result from internal communication, organizations need to link seven components: strategy, leadership, planning and prioritization, channel management and content development, role of the internal communication function, face-to-face communication, and impact measurement.

The first element is achieved by having organizations clearly define the strategy, values and behaviors, and their means of communication towards reaching attitudes. By communication, the management makes sure that every factor that blocks the value is being eliminated.

Leadership implies adding commitment to the actions. When conveying a message, it should have a clear purpose, consistency, and focus.

Planning and prioritization mean having a representative team of internal communication involved in strategy planning. Being in touch with those directing the organizational changes, the representative team can reveal through their message the “why” behind the “what.” Each initiative should have a communication plan, and while conveying the message, monitoring the employees reactions is vital. By having the communicators focus on corporate objectives and not only on communication objectives, they will be explicit about what people need to do differently.                        

Channel management and content development are critical for employees to spot the connection among the changes and prioritize what they need to get done. Therefore, communicators need to add meaning to the message and highlight the important points. Therefore, choosing the right channel for communicating a piece of information is gold.        

The role of internal communication function is impactful if the communicators have access to decision makers and the overall objectives set. In some companies, the narrow focus of messengers blocks the value that could be added, and that is because the department is not as close as it should be to the heart of the organization. They should not only master the art of communication but should also present skills for business strategy understanding. To conclude, in order to translate a sentence into action, one needs to understand what that action is about, and they do not serve as an ideas production department.

Face-to-face communication is important in information distribution. Eventually, communication happens between the ears, while the information can happen over wires. Interaction is key to building trust and collaboration. The availability of technology does not substitute a direct conversation.

The last element, which is impact measurement, can be achieved by measuring results against intentions. Organizations can use key performance indicators to ensure that what was planned has been achieved. Tracking the communication efforts provides an overview of the outcome of the communication. Another option is to conduct regular surveys and to include communication capabilities in appraisals.

Image Source: fpphotobank | Canva  

  1.               The Motivation Matrix

By applying this method, senior leadership understands what motivates different employees and learns how to speak to each one’s motivation. There are two key words designed to help: by and for. Everyone is motivated by things and for things. People get motivated by ethos, emotion, or logic, while the same audience gets motivated for achievement, recognition, or power. 

Once the people’s natural desire to perform stands out, one will understand what pushes people. If they are motivated by ethos, the leadership will figure out what authority should ask for the task to be accomplished depending on the degree of credibility. If some are motivated by emotion, leadership will be sure to add emotion to the project. And finally, if some are motivated by logic, leadership will make sure to mention the reasoning behind the task.

Through the motivation matrix, managers will have a sense of what pulls team members. If they are motivated for achievement, they would want to get the work done without hearing what a good job they did. What matters most is to perform the work to the standards set. Those motivated by recognition will look for pats on the back in front of their colleagues, calling their names at a public meeting and giving them recognition when deserved is their way of charging the batteries. And if they are motivated by power, they crave for authority, control, and the ability to make decisions. People who are motivated by power want the award only if it comes with a new title or a new set of tasks to be completed.

Therefore, the leaders that racked up a strong sense of where their teams are coming from can spot what urges them to produce.

  1.               The Four HorseMen

This is the technique that identifies itself as the brightest spot on a painting and catches the viewer’s eye. Applying this technique will make the manager a master of communication as he adds color to his words. Depending on the internal communication channel, the employees might only hear the words without assigning a face to the message. By selecting one of the four categories, the manager chooses how to emphasize words and engage the audience.

Speed– The two components, rate and pace, bring value to the message and allow listeners to follow the speaker. Rate is the speed at which the words are assembled, while pace is the speed at which the thoughts are stuck together. If the manager has to transmit an important message, it would help to build up a bit of speed before arriving at the central thing and then slow down while saying the main information that he wants people to bear in mind. Variate, and people will hang on to the words.

Volume– By alternating the loudness of the speech, one can gain attention and confidence, depending on the situation. In a big room, speaking at loud implies no fear and draws attention to the message. On the other hand, whispering forces the audience to focus and listen.

Stress– It does not refer to the stress faced when trying to meet a deadline, but the one that is applied to a word in order to emphasize something. By changing the stress, a word can be either lengthened or shortened. Applying this third pawn, the author holds the power over the importance of his sayings.

Inflection– Inflection measures the pitch of the message, attaching authority to the one who delivers it. For instance, when asking a question, the pitch goes up at the end of the phrase. Continuing so gives the impression of multiple questions asked. Lowering the pitch in a sentence provides authority and expresses confidence.

In conclusion, business objectives need to be clearly translated for all organizational layers. Internal communication serves as a bridge, connecting those who know what needs to be changed to those who have the power to make it happen. Once the bridge is built, everyone has been provided with a shared understanding of the company’s issues as well as of the “whys” behind the “whats.” The essential assets of an integrated communication are management credibility and trust.

If you’d like to learn more about developing strategies for your business, sign up for The KPI Institute’s Strategy and Business Planning Professional Certification.

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