Without a sound internal communications plan in your organization, department silos, low employee retention and internal conflict will surely poison your culture.
That’s why, I asked high-in-demand consultant Pam Marmon, CEO of Threefold Tribe, to reveal the six keys of a great internal communications plan in order to take your culture to the next level.
“Without proper internal communications, a church, organization, or company can be misaligned on its strategy, thus impacting every department and resulting in low staff engagement and unmet expectations from your members, partners, or customers,” says Pam.
A great internal communications plan can help you avoid these unnecessary outcomes and put your teams, departments, literally the entire organization, on the same page. The results: greater shared trust, unity and enjoyment at every level.
Here is the six-step approach Pam has used to help some very appreciative clients develop their own internal communications plans:
1. Define your guiding principles
For faster, better decisions within your organization:
- Communicate the right message to the right audience using the right channels at the right time.
- Emphasize two-way communications—“push” (sending out–low touch, low engagement), and “pull” (gathering information, richer information, higher engagement)
- Consider “WIFM”—What’s In It For Me (the recipient)
Setting your guidelines sets the tone for how your organization will share information.
Key question: What are the most important guiding principles for communication within your organization?
2. Agree on communication strategy
A critical working document needed to:
- outline the various methods of sharing information within your company and how you intend to use communication channels to engage internal audiences you want to impact,
- create a cohesive message for the receivers and align on organizational priorities, and
- plan out a 3-month strategy (minimum) or a 12-month strategy (ideal).
(See examples in this free toolkit.)
Key question: How does your organization currently plan and execute internal communications?
3. Create a communications plan
This tactical application of your strategy requires a dedicated resource person who:
- manages the communication plan,
- sets consistent frequency for communications,
- uses the voice of the audience through feedback, and
- finds creative ways to share information.
Key question: Who is accountable for maintaining the communications within your organization?
In the absence of communications, rumors, anxiety, and lost productivity emerge.”
4. Set communication systems in action
If internal communications is the lifeblood of your organization, then communication systems are the arteries that allow the information to flow freely by:
- repeating your message 7 times if you want your audience to hear it,
- cascading your message throughout the organization to enhance leadership alignment and demonstrate a cohesive message to your audience, and
- striving for live, face-to-face delivery, and if this is not possible leverage group communications that ensures efficient message consistency
Because a great communications plan can’t address a team’s dysfunctions of silos, work to avoid communication breakdowns at the mid-management level by establishing accountability and feedback.
Key question: What must you do to lessen the risk of a repeat communications breakdown where it’s already occurred?
5. Execute your communication plan
To do this effectively you need:
- an accountable resource person to oversee and check the status of your internal communications, and
- peer representation that empowers your people to champion good work from the water cooler chatter to a hand-written and every kind of affirmation in between.
Key question: Can you, the leader, identify who is accountable, responsible, consulted, and informed regarding organizational, departmental communications?
6. Incorporate feedback
Feedback gives any organization the permission to improve. It’s a gift and practice that requires active listening and asking questions.
- When asking for feedback, are you seeking ideas? Looking for buy-in? Expecting decision-making? Or simply raising awareness?
- By identifying the “why” behind the feedback, you can structure the feedback to come to you in a format you prefer.
Key question: What are the most effective communication channels in your organization? How can you ensure your message is received and that people can respond?
Don’t be surprised if your communications success story emerges as a result of following through on one or more of these six practical encouragements:
- Create a communications strategy with the receiver’s perspective in mind.
- Cascade communications throughout your organization.
- Use multiple channels to send messages.
- Acknowledge the “What’s In It For Me” through relevant messages.
- Apply low-touch/high-touch strategies.
- Leverage communication champions.
- Provide feedback options.
It’s Your Turn!
Pam’s parting encouragement: “Don’t let chance steer your communication efforts. Plan, and grow.” What’s one small step you can take, today, to grab the wheel and steer your organization toward a great internal communications plan?
Download Pam’s FREE Communications Strategy Plan
“How to Accelerate Your Culture Transformation”
Eric Bergen, COO, Rolling Hills Christian Church
The Employee Engagement Survey
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