8-Step Guide to Developing Internal Communication Standards
Improve Your Top-Down Strategy with Internal Communication Guidelines
Mastering communication at work is not as easy as you might think, but it’s crucial for employee satisfaction and business success. Research has proven time and again that effective communication practices directly affect an organization’s financial performance. And in order to be effective, business leaders need to create and follow internal communication guidelines.
Following strategic policies and procedures ensures everyone at the company is informed and engaged, no matter if they are in an office, working remote, or on the frontline facing customers each day. A recent study from Zogby analytics found that while 71% of managers consider themselves informed on company-wide news, only 40% of frontline employees claim the same.
To prevent both miscommunication and a lack of communication at your org, follow these 8 steps to create effective internal communication standards that guide all top-down updates.
1. Set Your Goals
What communication goals are important to your organization? Are departments siloed from each other? Do employees feel disconnected from the company culture? Is there a lack of trust and transparency coming from leadership? Identify the weaknesses in your company’s current communication patterns and set goals for improvement. These goals will help inform the following steps.
2. Decide Who Needs to Know What Information
Identify which kinds of updates should be sent to everyone, such as a message from the CEO, and which kinds need to be segmented by department, region, or team, such as a regional policy change. The more targeted messages are—so that information only goes to the employees that it concerns—the more effective communications will be.
3. Establish How Quickly Information Should Be Shared
How quickly should employees be made aware of different kinds of updates? Some news needs to be shared immediately, such as a new benefits enrollment plan from HR or the announcement of an acquisition. Other updates could have a natural cadence such as weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. An example might be reminders for regular product training certifications that are due by a specific date.
4. Set Guidelines for The Way Information Will Be Delivered
There are various updates that internal business communications leaders need to get out. Whether it’s organizational restructuring, earnings reports or congratulatory messages, decide which types of updates need to be shared in-person and which can be delivered online.
When conference calls and face-to-face meetings are required, how will those meeting details be shared with the workforce? If an email is sent, will everyone read it? Consider new communication modes like one-to-many broadcasts that instantly capture your employees’ attention.
5. Select What Software Will Be Used to Communicate with Dispersed Teams
What software or applications will be used for sending information? The communication technology your company uses can have a profound impact on the success of your overall communication strategy, so it’s important to spend some time here.
There are a range of technical requirements for enterprise communication platforms and key characteristics that make some a better choice than others. Above all, the software you choose has to be secure as well as intuitive so that employees actually use it.
To decide what technology to use, conduct an audit of your company’s current communication tools to identify deficiencies and opportunities for improvement. You may find that different departments use different tools (some on Slack, some on Skype, and others on WhatsApp) and that you can cut costs by deploying a single solution across the workforce. Of course, there are many benefits to having everyone use the same software platform and protocol.
You may also find that a large segment of your workforce is completely shut out. For companies that have deskless workers, such as field service organizations, this happens all the time. Information that is sent over email or via an intranet simply goes unread because these workers are on mobile devices, not desktops.
Additionally, don’t forget to think about communication holistically across the entire organization. Choosing an app built solely for top-down communication can have the side effect of employees never checking it because they don’t need to use it to get their work done. Consider:
- How employees will talk to each other
- How managers will talk to their teams
- How corporate will push updates out to the workforce
Rather than forcing multiple apps on employees, it may be worthwhile to find a company communication app that combines all of these communication functions into one app.
6. Set Guidelines For Which Communication Modes Should Be Used
For updates that don’t require an in-person meeting, what online communication mode will be used? There are a myriad of modes to choose from including conference calls, top-down broadcasts, group chats, and of course old-school email.
Decide which methods are appropriate for the message. For non-urgent updates that are team-specific, a group message may suffice. For an urgent safety alert, a broadcast that instantly alerts employees is a better choice. Provide guidelines for which modes to use so that those in charge of pushing out updates can be as effective as possible.
7. Identify Who Will Own Different Top-Down Communications
Who will own the different types of updates? Identify the exact employees across HR, corporate communications, and management who will be in charge of getting updates out to the workforce. Adding this to your internal communication guidelines prevents information gaps as well duplicate emails regarding the same topic.
8. Factor in How Employee Feedback Will Be Collected
Lastly, how will corporate gather employee feedback? Issuing surveys, holding live Q&A sessions, and having designated group messaging channels for feedback are all options. Don’t be afraid to adjust your internal business communication standards to better accommodate employees. Regularly check in and make sure employees are getting the information they need and adjust your strategy when necessary.
Get Your Internal Business Communication Standards Off the Ground
With a communication strategy and procedures in place, you can ensure employees stay informed and engaged. Many organizations suffer from low retention rates and uninformed workers, which leads to low productivity and costs the organization thousands per month.
By thinking through corporate communication strategies and creating guidelines that help employees get information out effectively, you can turn around those metrics. Companies like BlueLine Rental and Vivint Smart Home have completely transformed their company culture and employee retention by putting strategy and effective technology behind their communication processes.
Listen to the CEO of BlueLine Rental talk about the communication changes he made in this episode of the Essential podcast: