Internal Communications

by Val Lawson

Engaging the board in communications

As organisations grow, it becomes more important to formalise processes and procedures. The methods that work when you have one small office will be less effective when staff are split across two sites. So if your company doesn’t have an internal communications policy at present and you feel one should be introduced, here are some ideas on how to win over the board and directors. You may also find that the section on Raising the profile of internal communications contains useful suggestions to help you to convince some of the other managers and gain their support.

Link communications with business strategy

The internal communications strategy should support the business strategy, and help an organisation compete more effectively. What makes an appropriate employee communications strategy will vary according to the nature of the organisation, and your choice needs to be based on an awareness of the business gaps communication is designed to bridge. So, understand your business strategy and align your communications strategy with it.

Offer communications that help solve problems

To be convincing, internal communicators need to understand the business issues faced by the organisation, and should try to link communication with what is already at the top of the board’s agenda.

Show how good communications will help to remove barriers to success and are far more than just a way to tell those below what those above have decided!

Use communications to find solutions

Directors focus on business problems. They may agree that communicating with staff is important and a genuine priority, but they are more interested in solving their operational problems – raising market share or reducing wastage.

Business success is about connecting those who know what needs to be changed to those who have the power to make change happen. Business guru Gerry Robinson believes that senior managers can find the solutions to many problems by getting out and talking to people on the shop floor: find a way to apply this advice in your organisation, and communications will be king.

Focus on achievements not logistics

Communication is a means to an end. It is a tool to help managers improve business processes and the performance of people in those processes.

To convince senior managers as to the value of communications, focus on clear business outcomes – increased cooperation between departments, identification of cost improvements, the removal of irritants and mistakes – which represent cost savings and quality improvements. Then the return on investment can be measured in terms of helping to remove obstacles to the success of the business, rather than the efficiency of distributing communication.

Think business first, then communication

It is all too easy to talk in terms of communication processes, tactics and tools. Instead, you should concentrate on explaining how you will be delivering solutions to business problems. If the first step you take is to identify the underlying business problem, there is less risk of imposing inappropriate solutions.