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Internal Communications Strategy: How To Build A Successful IC Plan

An internal communications strategy is what defines your business goals in communicating with your company or organization. It’s your guide, a blueprint if you will to help guide you to be successful with your internal communications. The hybrid work environment has accelerated the need for a comprehensive IC plan. 

While I always recommend building your IC strategy with a professional, with some hard work and dedication, you can build an internal communications plan that is effective and built to get results.

In this guide, I want to make building your internal communications strategy as simple as possible, so I’ve broken it down to just 4 steps. As always, if you need additional help with your internal communications strategies, you can reach out by clicking this link.

Internal Communications Plan – The Numbers Don’t Lie

Before we jump in – if you have any doubt about having an internal communications plan, check these stats out.

  • According to Harvard Business Review, 71% of managers of companies with 500 employees or more considered employee engagement to be one of the most important factors for a company’s success.
  • If you invest 10% more in employee engagement, you can increase your profits per employee by $2,400.
  • According to Gallup, disengaged employees cost companies $450-550 billion each year.

Communicating with your employees matter – I’ve been helping with my clients with internal communication toolkits since 2006. When a company needs to communicate more effectively, there’s a framework our team follows to ensure we evaluate everything to determine the best internal communications strategy moving forward. This is how you get results.

Let’s get started.

Step One: Where is your company right now?

Where is your company at right now as it pertains to your IC? In order to know where you need to focus your attention, you’re going to have to do an honest assessment of your internal communications as they’re right now. 

You need to analyze your workforce, influences and the current performance of your internal communications.

  • Workforce – Make sure you’re collecting targeting information on the audience of your organization. There’s a lot of helpful data you can collect here, including your staff count, departments, locations, devices being used, as well as the demographics. Why? The collected insights can be used later for audience segmentation – which is going to allow you to deliver highly relevant messages. This is going to make sure the right people are seeing the right message.
  • Influences – What roadblocks, challenges,  issues, and needs are currently influencing your communications? This is going to vary depending on the structure of your organization. Some segments can be difficult to communicate with staff, such as a call center or fulfillment center? Due to this, you have to think about the specific messaging challenges you’re going to have for individual departments. 
  • Communications Now – What internal communications are you using now? Have they been effective for employee engagement? If you haven’t been using internal communication software or tech, you won’t have any data to help you make that decision. For those of you that are using IC, what communication channels have been effective up to now? Are some channels more effective for specific messaging vs another?

Step Two: Where do you want your company to be?

Now that you know where you stand, what’s worked, and what hasn’t performed well, it’s time to start planning where you want the organization to be. Your internal communications plan won’t be effective unless it’s clearly defined. Step 2 is all about defining your objectives and goals. 

  • Business Goals – You’re going to see the best results with internal communications when it  integrates seamlessly with your overall business goals. You need to review your business plan and KPIs – this is going to help guide you to where your IC should focus on. Once you know what objectives your business will focus on, you’ll know what areas are most important for your internal communications moving forward.
  • Your Objectives – When you’re building out your objectives, you need to be detailed about what you want to achieve. Are you trying to get employees to open up 80 percent of your messages? Are you trying to increase your employee engagement by 30 percent?  You always want to make sure you have a way to measure your objectives, keep that in mind when you’re building them out.
  • Your IC Priorities – With your internal communications, where do you see your organization in 3 months? 6 months? A year from now? Start with your vision for the future of internal communications in your organization. How does it look – is it a centralized IC function or decentralized by location or functional area?
  • Top Communication Focus – Now you’ve spent some time writing down (in detail) what objectives you need to focus on, you can start to list your primary communication focus points. What are going to be your most important objectives for your internal communications? You do want to prioritize all of your IC plans for the year as some will be more important than others.
  • Think About The Responses – You should also think about the types of responses you want to get from employees and team members with your communications. That can be a physical response from your employees or it can be an emotional response. How should employees react to your internal messages?

Step Three: How can you achieve the results you want to reach?

Now that you have a good idea of what the organization will do, it’s time to move to the next step. Step 3 is where the best tactics and most effective communication channels are combined to achieve your objectives.

  • Communication Workflow – You need to make sure you document all of the main communication tasks you’re planning for the full year. Each one of these communications tasks will need a detailed communications plan. 
  • Audience Segmentation – Each employee should be put into a specific  grouping based on their department, working environment or communication preferences. You’ll be able to use a communication platform to set these up, which will allow you to place them in the channel best suited for them. 
  • Choosing A Channel – Yes, channels are important, so you want to make sure you’re using them effectively. The type of content you need to communicate, and the urgency with which staff must consume it, will help define the most appropriate channels. For example, communicating IT outage notifications, promoting campaign events and soliciting feedback to company announcements all have very different purposes – and require very different communication selections. It’s advisable to use multiple channels to maximize the best attributes of each and reduce the risk in relying on a single, overloaded channel.
  • Backup Plans – You should always create a backup plan just in case things don’t go as planned, This plan will outline alternative actions to be taken in the event of roadblocks to the main plan. This can include but is not limited to; weather delays, natural disasters, lack of resources, etc. Preparing back-up messages in advance can help reduce the stress when obstacles arise, as well as allow you to move more swiftly in your responses.

Step Four: How do you know your Internal Communications Strategy Works?

The final step is about tracking results and implementing a cycle of continuous improvement.

  • Tracking – You’ll find it difficult to improve your internal communications if you’re not tracking the right things. If you currently can’t track your messages, you’ll need to implement a system to help you track open rates, responses and to confirm that your plan is meeting your objectives. This will allow you to see what’s working, what’s not working, and will allow you to make optimizations or changes when it makes sense to do so. 
  • Trial And Error – Many internal communication tools have tracking and analytics features that can help identify which channels have been successful. Likewise, it can also track what channels are underperforming. Don’t expect to get it all right on your first try, it’s highly unlikely. Rather, focus your attention on making your channels better on a regular basis. Try to build a monthly or quarterly evaluation into your communications strategy, but keep in mind the bigger picture – wider company results which demonstrate the value of your internal communications activities.
  • Feedback Loops – Feedback loops are extremely powerful for making positive progress, make sure you’re using them regularly. You always want to give your employees and staff a stage to speak. Be open to requesting, collecting and reporting on employee feedback. This is where staff sentiment surveys and intranet forums can be a great first step for getting honest and helpful feedback. It’ll allow you to get views you wouldn’t otherwise get, a huge perk for everyone involved. If employees feel like they have a platform, they may be more willing to engage with the organization. 

Need help with your internal communications strategy and plan?

Building a successful internal communications plan can be a challenge, if you need help, we can help. Trident Communications has years of IC experience and has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. We’d love to help, so be sure to reach out to our team. Click here. 

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