“The Times They Are A Changing”, Especially In Internal Communications
I recently had the opportunity to attend a very informative event held by the Boston chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. It was a panel discussion called “Internal Communications In Times of Change”, where HR, marketing, and communications professionals from a variety of industries came together to discuss trends in internal corporate communications and participate in an open Q+A session.
Throughout the discussion, participants focused on the strategies and tactics for enabling collaborative communication in our ever-changing business environment. Ultimately, for me one of the overarching takeaways is that there is no single strategy or tactic that acts a “magic bullet” for everyone. Each organization is different, and thus stakeholders must have a deep understanding of their company’s goals, vision, structure, and communication style before enacting any internal strategy, tactic, or tool.
Below is a list of other tips and takeaways from this informative discussion:
- The biggest challenge in internal communications is changing people’s mindsets and behaviors.
- Create internal buzz through unexpected methods and messages. These “viral campaigns” break through the normal clutter or corporate communications.
- When going through a change program, employees should know why the change is happening, how long it will continue, and what is expected of them.
- Use internal enterprise social networks (ESN) to communicate with employees who have questions, and to promote cross-collaboration throughout the organization.
- In times of drastic change (like a merger or acquisition), use the ESNs to easily display answers to frequently asked questions.
- ESN’s are very effective for social discussion and free flowing collaboration, but they will never replace traditional email.
- ESN’s should be seen as an additional platform on top of email that is used for open-ended discussion among multiple groups.
- Email is still the most fundamental 1 to 1 communication tool.
- It’s okay to not have all the answers, but people need to feel like they are being heard and that their opinions are valued.
- Middle management needs to be aligned with the goals of senior management in order for messages to be fully cascaded to all employees.
- Use real employee and customer interaction stories to visibly connect corporate values with the behaviors you want from employees.
- Video can be an effective tool, even if it is shot and produced in a low-budget way. As long as you stick within branding guidelines, leaders will be more impressed with a lot of traction out of a low-budget program than they will be with minimal results from an expensive and intricately produced video.
If you have any questions or comments about internal communications during times of change, please share your ideas with us.