Developing an Internal
Communication Strategy
to drive your organization past the
competition
Rodney Gray, Director
Employee Communication & Surveys
Sydney, Australia
What is internal communication?
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Not essentially to do with media, messages,
senders and receivers, noise or interference
It’s really about the transfer of MEANING or
understanding (not just moving information)
More than this, it’s to do with changing the
behavior of the organization’s employees
It’s an investment to facilitate or support the
achievement of the organization’s goals
2
“Turning all eyes outward”
“The real purpose of effective communication
within an organization is to achieve a common
understanding and focus on what the
organization is trying to achieve in the
marketplace.”
“The only argument powerful enough to
encourage people to embrace change is one
that is rooted in the marketplace.”
Roger D’Aprix p.3
3
Exactly why does your
organization communicate?
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Do you have a communication strategy?
How is your communication linked to the
organization’s vision, mission, objectives?
Do you simply pump out more information in the
hope that employees will be better informed
about the organization and thus perform better?
Take the test: assess your communication
programs - what are you trying to achieve?
4
Just how well do you understand
your organization’s requirements?
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What are the Charter, Vision, Mission, Goals?
What are the key philosophies and values?
What do the short and long-range plans for each
division or business unit tell you?
How do various stakeholders think you’re going?
What are the strengths and weaknesses?
Do you need to interview executives of various
business units to find out communication needs?
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HOW EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATION CAN HELP ACHIEVE ORGANIZATIONAL OBJECTIVES
The organization must
“perform” if objectives
are to be achieved
Organizational performance
depends on the behaviour
of employees
ORGANIZATIONAL
PERFORMANCE
EMPLOYEE
BEHAVIOUR
ORGANIZATIONAL
OBJECTIVES
By assessing
•organizational objectives
•organizational performance
•employee behaviour required
- you can decide how to communicate
to influence employee behaviour
Organization’s
•policies, procedures
•processes, systems
•rules, guidelines
•culture, norms
•formal training
•etc.
EMPLOYEE
COMMUNICATION
© Rodney Gray, 1997
Employee’s
•skills
•competence
•knowledge
•beliefs
•values, habits
•motivations etc.
Employee behaviour
is influenced
by organizational
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and individual
factors such as these
James Shaffer’s model
[Presentation to IABC Conference, June 1999]
Leadership
Context
Vision/
Strategy
Infrastructure
Infrastructure
Linkage
Decision
Moments
Actions
People Take
Organizational
Performance
Financial
Performance
Role
Media
Support
7
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Leadership
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Infrastructure
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Media
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What leaders do and don’t do
What they ask
Who they recognise
Rewards
Measurement
Structure
Programs, policies
Meetings/huddles
Scorecards
Financial statements
Memos, publications
Web-based technology
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Leadership, infrastructure and
media provide these things:
Context
Vision/
Strategy
Linkage
Role
Support
The big picture
What we’ll look like and how we’ll
get there
What’s in it for me
How I influence results
Resources including information I need
to influence results
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How and what to communicate to
support the organization strategy?
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How exactly does the organization have to
perform, or improve, to achieve success?
What do employees have to do, not do, or do
differently, for the organization to perform better?
What behaviours can you influence? How?
Can you change attitudes or understanding?
What decision moments can be influenced so that
employees take the actions required?
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What internal communication
approaches will have impact?
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Leadership: what
leaders do or not do;
what they ask about;
who they recognize
Infrastructure: reward,
measures, structure,
policy, procedures etc.
Media: has a very
limited support role to
leaders, infrastructure
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Leadership
Infrastructure
Media
Source
Jim Shaffer
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How to measure your success
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Measure the extent your communications have
caused employee behaviour change
Measure progress towards achievement of
goals, or performance of various divisions
Measure how satisfied your various internal
audiences are with communication overall, and
with different aspects and tools (but this is
clearly not as good as the first above)
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Employees usually know what
they have to do to perform well
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It is not appropriate to specify the behaviour of
knowledge workers as with some others
They need a degree of freedom as to how to
achieve their objectives and perform well
They know what information and relationships
they need to do their jobs well
So measuring employees’ opinion of the quality
of communication with them is very useful
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As a minimum you must satisfy
employees’ information needs
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Ideally you need to satisfy both organizational
and employees’ communication needs
In Australia no research findings exist as yet as
to how well organizational needs are met
But there is plenty of research as to how well
employees’ communication needs are being met
Our research overseas indicates Australian
findings are typical of those in Western countries
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Australian employees are not at
all satisfied with communication
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Overall, only 38% of
Australian employees
surveyed are satisfied
with communication
with them
More than 1 in 4 are
not satisfied with
communication with
them
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Satisfied
Not sure
Not
satisfied
Overall
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Correlations 0.7 - 0.55
Across
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Change
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100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Consultn.
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With senior
38%
management
Upward
41%
communication
Consultation 40%
& involvement
About change 36%
Across the
30%
organisation
Upward
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Sen. Mgt.
Aspects which correlate strongly
with overall satisfaction are poor
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53%
61%
71%
Correlations around 0.5
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Job info.
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51%
Supervisor
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Strategic
direction
Performance
feedback
Immediate
supervisor
Job
information
Feedback
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Direction
Moderate correlates with overall
satisfaction are a bit better
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48%
44%
Correlations 0.3 or less
Email
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56%
52%
Publication
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57%
Results
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Executive
roadshows
Intranet
Results
presentations
Company
publication
Email
Intranet
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100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Roadshows
Tools are okay, but have a very
low correlation with satisfaction
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Most Australian employees say
internal communication is lousy
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24% positive - leading regional bank
25% positive - financial services company
24% positive - state government department
25% positive - national insurance company
34% positive - another insurance company
47% positive - same company a year later
42% positive - leading transport company
47% positive - leading global merchant bank
55% positive - national food manufacturer
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ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE COMMUNICATION MODEL
Vision
Mission
Objectives
Goals
Strategies
Direction
Charter
Values
Philosophies
Guiding principles
Credo
Long-term plan
Five-year plan
Annual report
Organizational
change objectives
Stakeholders or
audiences
- apprentices
- shopfloor
- team leaders
- supervisors
- trades people
- professionals
- clerical staff
- managers
- executives
- various locations
- various languages
- illiterate
Organisational
outcomes
Demonstrated
- behaviour, skills
- understanding
- knowledge
Evaluation Process
Communication Strategy
Communication Objectives
Consider:
- two-way dialogue
- employees’ mindsets
- employee feedback
- what employees know
- what you want them to - effective listening
- upward communications
know and understand
- what they want to know - involvement
- recognition
- desired behaviours
Content Strategy
Consider employees’
preferred content:
- impact on self
- workplace future
- business unit plans
- personal goals
- individual feedback
- customer feedback
- what’s happening
- change initiatives
- career opportunities
- training and development
- “where do I fit in”
- “how can I help”
Media Strategy
Consider employees’
preferred media:
- face-to-face
- immediate supervisor
- local work group
- one to one
- small groups
Primary strategy:
to communicate to and
support supervisors or
immediate managers
Secondary:
news by e-mail or
voicemail
c
Rodney Gray 1997
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ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE COMMUNICATION MODEL
Stakeholders or
audiences
Communication Strategy
Communication Objectives
Content Strategy
Organizational
outcomes
Media Strategy
Evaluation Process
Evaluation
Process
c
Rodney Gray 1997
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Finally, please remember
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Meaning v. information 
Support organization’s
objectives not entertain
Understand goals etc. 
Ensure communication
changes behaviour
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Regularly assess your
communications
Leaders, infrastructure
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more critical than media
As a minimum satisfy
employees’ info needs or they can’t perform well
Chances are employees
are not satisfied with
internal communication
Communication plan to
cover strategy, content,
media and evaluation
Measure impact on your
organization’s objectives
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Take the test yourself
- when was the last time you....?
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...reviewed the operating plans for all divisions
...interviewed executives about what they need
...measured impact of programs on behaviour
...asked employee audiences how well internal
communication helps them do their jobs well
...worked with HR to measure and upgrade the
leadership/communication skills of all managers
...assessed the communication impact of the
infrastructure thoughout the organisation
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Developing an Internal Communication Strategy