The Oxford dictionary describes the meaning of the word “communication,” which comes from the Latin word, commūnicāre, meaning “to share,” as a process of imparting or exchanging information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. In order to communicate correctly, organizations firstly define their mission, vision, and objectives to be able to move towards the direction where its goals are located and not to go astray. As organizations consist of a specific structure of audiences, it is vital to develop a strategy to share and exchange vitally important information like the mission, vision, and objectives between these different yet interrelated audiences. This is the point where an organization or a team starts to function fully.
Internal communication is often misunderstood and referred to as various tools of communication inside the organization, such as staff meetings, newsletters, or an internal radio. On the contrary, communication is more the culture of sharing necessary information to the relevant audiences for a particular purpose rather than just channels of exchanging news and updates.
When everyone inside a particular group, whether they are employees, managers, or volunteers, are properly informed about the direction of their journey, they find themselves in a cohesive atmosphere where everyone has the same goals and values.
For instance, if we take the beehive as a model of perfect organization, we can see that one of the secrets of their organized and effective work is their ability to communicate with the right tool for a particular goal whether it is food storage, brood rearing, comb building or foraging. They are always in touch and informed of the situation inside and outside the comb and always working for a common goal.
To develop an effective internal communications strategy there are plenty of questions to ask yourself and here are some which can help to develop a strategy not only in reaction to specific events and occasions but also long term goals.
1. What do I want my organization to look like after 5 years?
This is quite simple. Here you should identify the goal you want to reach. It is similar to an organization’s vision where you strive towards a goal which is far enough to be touchable yet realistic enough to struggle for it.
For instance, the goal might look like something like this: Develop internal communications to a level where information is accessible for every employee or a department inside the organization which will lead to faster and better decisions.
2. What are my objectives and messages?
Objectives and messages are extremely interrelated. Messages you want to deliver to your colleagues must be created based on the objectives you defined. Objectives are different from your goal. They are more specific and targeted towards a particular gap to be fixed.
You can have a set of objectives which together make up your final goal. This will help to coherently create your strategy and split your project into an order of steps making your path more clear for you and your audience.
Messages are born from these objectives and from the specific needs of a particular type of organization.
An example of a message for an NGO which is implementing multiple programs can be: It is important for everyone in the organization to be aware of how every program is moving forward.
AN example of an objective based on which above-mentioned message was created will look like this: To ensure that everyone inside the organization is aware of how every program is moving forward.
3. Who made up the organization?
In order to move forward correctly and create a reliable fundament for your communications strategy, it is vital to accurately identify your audience inside your organization. To understand who made up your internal audience you should have an answer to the following questions.
- What type of staff do you have? Are they mostly full time? Do you have volunteers?
- How many members does your management and junior staff consist of?
- Where does the staff work?
Answers to these questions will help you to understand which tools and techniques will create an effective and efficient communication channel between both you and your audience and between different types of internal audience.
4. What are the tools and tactics suitable for my goal?
Tools are something we select based on the problem we have. If we have answers to the previous three questions, it is the right time to pick suitable tools and tactics. Also, selected tools must be coherent with the skills and behavior of your audience. If the internal audience and the business type require old school tools and tactics, you cannot select communication tools and tactics designed for fast paced environment, and vice a versa. However, if your strategy contains concrete training and development modules for the staff, after implementing such modules you can adopt and test new communication tools.
Also, to increase the suitability of selected tools and tactics, it is vital to consider your goal and objectives. This will help to shoot on target with less risk and more accuracy.
5. What is my implementation plan?
An implementation addresses who will do what and also when a particular staff member/team must accomplish a particular task. For communications strategy implementation, the HR or Communications department can easily involve other departments, including both managers and junior staff.
When reaching the ‘implementation plan’ stage, you may feel some necessity to get back and change your tools and tactics. During this stage, only you realize how accurately you designed your strategy in the previous sections. To avoid this, just consult the staff before designing each section of your strategy.
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