You – We got 400 hits on our strategy story last week!
Boss – So?
You – Uhhhhhh.
Been there? It should be more like this:
Boss – What’s happening with our employees?
You – We got a lot of comments on the strategy story. Most were OK, but a couple of them make me think we need to test some other ways of explaining the strategy to make it more relevant to more people. I followed up with a couple of calls to some people, and I have some ideas about what to do differently.
B – Tell me more!
That’s a different dynamic. We need more research up front, more evaluation during our communication activities, and more measurement afterwards to connect with business objectives.
I know internal commsters are totally slammed, but this is about being a serious business person. No other department gets away with ignoring this vital discipline.
The fact is that the ‘traditional’ IC person – the ex-journalist who primarily is a writer/editor, who has little experience within the operations of the business, and/or whose educational background is outside the business world – may be considered an endangered species.
In the US, IC is usually part of HR, PR, or occasionally the legal department. There is little professional education focused on the strategic assets of IC, except for the Corporate Executive Board (which now offers the IC Black Belt programme begun by Melcrum).
There still is too much emphasis on the ‘tools’ of IC – enterprise social networks, intranets, SharePoint and the like – and not enough on the research, measurement and evaluation that tests connections between employee communication effectiveness and business results.
Here are three things that I believe all IC people should focus on right away:
1. Brush up your research skills. We need not become statisticians, but we should gain familiarity with the common measures at the output level – and test the connections to both communication outcomes and to business impact. These can be quantitative and/or qualitative. Take a class, for heaven’s sake. Then do some interviews, convene some focus groups, send out a SurveyMonkey – and use the data to change and improve your plans.
2. Do a time study. Take a hard look at what you and your team are doing day to day. Which activities contribute most significantly to organisational objectives? Which don’t? Stop doing things that don’t add value. Of course, this is a difficult road to drive – but you can refocus on higher value-added activities. The proof will be in the pudding.
3. Ask more questions. We need to understand what is changing, or needs to change, in our organisation. We need to know what we’re trying to accomplish, the objectives and goals of those changes. Ask ‘why?’ What are the reasons behind the decisions we’re making? And, not least, what is the effect on our people? The easy acronym is CORE – it’s what our people want to know about virtually everything.
If we dedicate ourselves to these three tasks, we’ll be well on the way to becoming the IC pros of the future.
Independent communications practitioner Jane Revell shares her secrets to effective IC measurement.
Wherever I go a recurring theme is raised by internal communications people: the ongoing challenge to measure our work and demonstrate return on investment.
Research by Newsweavershows that although 95 per cent of internal communications professionals say measurement is important, it is the activity people spend the least time on.
With more information at our fingertips than ever before, measurement must not continue to be our Achilles heel. Here are three simple ways to get into the measurement cycle today.
1. Know what you want to achieve – what do you want people to think, feel and do as a result?
Measurement is often considered only after the work has been done. This needs to change.
Whether you are launching a new digital tool, holding an employee event or creating internal videos, you need to set out the purpose of your internal communications (what you want people to think, feel or do) from the outset as you plan your activity.
Set SMART objectives and know how and when you will measure before you start.
2. Make time to measure monthly
Measurement is regularly put to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list and often ‘bumped’ for something ‘more important’. It needs to be prioritised with time set aside each month to measure against the objectives set.
Measuring monthly with a quarterly review is a good approach. A top tip is to establish a process of reporting on findings to senior leaders to demonstrate the value of internal communications and our role in helping to achieve business goals.
The measurement you do will depend on the objectives you have set, however, tools you can use include:
Pulse surveys (well-designed questions that focus on finding out if you have achieved the objectives set)
Focus groups and interviews with employees
Analytics (intranet, email, apps, microsites)
Quotes from conversations with people across the organisation
Conversations and comments via internal social media, blogs and direct to leaders and managers.
3. Create a measurement dashboard
This isn’t as scary or complex as it sounds. The idea is to simply reflect on measurement results so you can track trends and identify any challenges or issues so that you can review and change your approach.
An internal communications measurement dashboard should include:
An overview of the business goals you are working towards
Overall communications aims
Sections for each objective set with a summary of the measurement findings under each to show process against the objective
Visual aids, graphs, pull-out numbers, direct quotes from employees.