Internal communications – a high risk discipline

Having led organizational communication teams and projects within departments and at Head-Office level, I’m under no illusion that the ‘success’ of Internal Communications work is dependent on a number of factors.

To make internal communications campaigns succeed, these factors need to be in place:

  • top level sponsorship that is aligned, positive, and active
  • behaviours and actions of leaders, line managers and other influencers that align with organizational communication intention
  • the implementation of a rigorous planning framework that enables informed decisions on how to further align between group, functional, team and individual communication requirements alongside brand, purpose and strategy
  • good leader and line manager communications capabilities that enable these leaders to reliably contribute to communications processes
  • access to people, information, news and developments
  • sufficient time, skills and resources across the whole communications team to be able to deliver to agreed communication promises and measure the outcomes.

… and all the while, employees are awash with email. They need easy and accessible communications that make sense, opportunities to ask questions and be heard, and collaboration with colleagues and stakeholders in ways that move things forward.

I want to confess that I’ve never experienced these come together, I’ve never worked with anyone who has seen it, and I’ve never worked under an internal communications leader who insists on these factors being present.

To compensate, there is no option but to compromise: written quotes instead of video clips; safe, edited messages instead of authentic, compelling messages; broadcast emails instead of Manager to team dialogues. And it’s a risk, because poor communications breeds mistrust, disengagement, cynicism and dissent.

Bring back fewer, but more effective communications I say, centred on people to people interaction…

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