Internal Comms (IC) professionals are living in exciting times. CEOs around the globe recognize the growing importance of aligning the organization on a strong purpose. They also recognize that they themselves have a big role to play when it comes to shaping the corporate culture. This sounds like everything is set up perfectly for Internal Comms.
However, research shows that executives acknowledge the strategic importance of Internal Comms, but mention most tactical and operational tasks when they are asked about what it is IC should deliver. That’s why IC departments need to get some things right before they can claim the famous seat at the table.
I believe there are currently three focus areas for IC:
Measure the right things
Relevance — Get back on the floor
IC professionals should spend less time in the office or their department and more time among the audience they are serving. If you’ve ever heard about the “Iceberg of Ignorance”, you know why.
In order to link IC activities to the business strategy, you have to get out there and understand the problems of the people you serve — not only the problems on the executive level. This makes it easier for you to advise and challenge your executives — and to explain the strategy so that people actually understand what it means to them in their work.
Digital tools — Offer a great digital employee experience
Try to think about all the digital tools that you use on your private phone. Then imagine you just hired a 25-year-old person who is ready to change the world and wants to be part of something big. But this person will soon find out that the only way she can connect with others or experience the company purpose is through the Intranet portal — on her laptop. How long do you think this person will stay in your company?
Digital employee experience (or DEX) is becoming increasingly important.
Some keywords in relation to creating a great digital employee experience are: Employee focused, personalized, easy to use, mobile, social, integrated, informative, engaging and productive.
Therefore, it’s really important for IC departments to take responsibility for choosing the right digital tools. Too often, it has already been decided by IT to use Office 365 tools — and that’s about it. Even if Office 365 tools are great, there are many other tools out there that can deliver higher ROIs on specific use cases.
Measure the right things
In order to become a strategic important function, IC must be able to prove how it supports the strategy. To succeed, IC must establish feedback mechanisms that tell us what works and what doesn’t.
My personal experience is that many IC departments don’t measure the outcome of their efforts. They rely on that executives believe that they deliver value. I believe that is a risky strategy. IC professionals have to try to walk the extra mile and measure the outcome of their efforts. But it’s not enough just to measure how many colleagues have “consumed” your content. At best, you have to measure the actions they take. That’s where the real value is. It’s hard and can not always be done. But it needs to be done where it’s possible.
How you can deliver real business value
Imagine, your HR department is struggling with getting enough internal applicants to their job postings. Instead of just helping them with an article on the Intranet and measure that — start asking them about the value. What does it cost the business that people are leaving rather than applying for a new job in the company? When you’ve worked that out you can start drafting a plan for how you can help get more people to apply for a job internally. And you would be able to track how many read your content, and if they went to the internal job portal. HR can take it even further and see if there is an increase in the number of applicants. And if there is, you can convert that to money, as you worked out the value with HR when you started.
Same goes for your sales department. They might struggle with getting the right information to front-desk employees. Imagine a phone company struggling with giving their people timely and relevant information about new product launches and unique selling points. If you succeed here, you could end up improving the sales numbers!
And in case you might wonder. Yes, I believe that is internal communication too. I even believe that it is more important than spending your time doing endless stories about how great your company is.
The transformation of Internal Communication
Today, anyone in the business can and should communicate. This is good because people want authenticity. It builds trust and ensures relevance.
The graphic below sums up the transformation I believe Internal Communication is facing. There will be less focus on producing content and KPIs like “read articles” and more focus on facilitating communication and behavioural KPIs.
This is an edited version of the original that was published at https://www.linkedin.com.