Internal communication: how to roll out a plan
A strong business relies on unified employees that are working towards clear, defined and achievable goals. In order to make sure your company is running smoothly, you'll need to establish a strong internal communications plan that keeps workers informed of changes to the company and ongoing projects, and provides an outlet for internal feedback.
In this three part piece, we outline why a strong communications plan will benefit your organization, how to develop and document a customized plan, and how to implement it across your company. Ready to get started? Here we go!
Internal communication part 1: why you need a plan
An internal communications plan is a formal strategy that identifies communication channels and sets out a roadmap to distribute information efficiently and effectively across an organization.
Increased employee engagement
With a strong communications plan, employees will have a better understanding of their place in the company and a stronger sense of community. Giving employees clarity regarding how their individual work fits into the larger goals of the organization can help to motivate productivity, as they are likely to feel appreciated and important to your organization.
Allowing employees a clear avenue through which to talk to members of various departments and leadership helps solidify workplace community and culture. By encouraging employees to be open and in contact with their managers, employees can gain greater trust in your company's leadership, and feel more heard and respected at work.
A clear communications plan allows managers to oversee different departments and to continuously motivate their employees. Managers should establish clear points of contact across departments and company projects. This way, department leads can report back to management if needed, and managers know who is responsible for communicating progress or roadblocks. Similarly, a clear communications plan will help employees know which manager they should contact for different updates or requests—thus streamlining internal communication, increasing efficiency and avoiding misunderstandings.
Streamlined facility requests
As a facilities manager, you know firsthand how successful office management relies on effective communication channels. Having a clear process in place to manage facility requests will help you to optimize your time. Rather than receiving similar requests from each and every employee during an office move or when upgrading resources,
having a clear system in place to manage requests will provide company-wide clarity and transparency.
After all, you don't want to waste time responding to the same request being sent from multiple sources; nor do you want your employees to waste time vocalizing a problem that has already been reported.
More opportunities for feedback
Perhaps employees want to express an idea or reoccurring issue, but don't know which channel they should use to communicate their thoughts or who should process their request. A thorough internal communications plan should answer these questions. Learning from your employees can unveil workplace processes and procedures that may not be working as effectively or efficiently as they could be. Providing an opportunity for feedback can also improve employee satisfaction and office morale.
A stronger workplace overall
A company that has a strong internal communications plan has a better chance of reaching their goals. Providing a standardized process allows for clearer, more consistent messaging and for employees to be actively involved in the decision-making process. As a result, an internal communications plan can lead to increased employee contribution and productivity, and a strong, unified workplace.
Now that we've explored the why, let's delve into the how: creating the plan itself.
Internal communication part 2: a guide to creating your plan
If you're ready to start creating your internal communications plan, it's time to figure out exactly what to include.
The next phase in your process is the actual development and documentation of your company’s customized plan. This requires thorough research, collaboration and input from your team. You need to assess your current situation, define the messages you want to deliver and figure out which channels you're going to use. Here are the necessary steps you should undertake when creating your communications plan:
Assess your current situation
In order to create a strong internal communications plan, you'll need to figure out what your company is doing right and what simply isn't working. While there are many ways to assess your current strengths and weakness, a highly effective method is doing a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis looks at your organization's:
By examining what you are doing well, what isn't working, opportunities for improvement and areas where your competitors are outperforming you, you can start to formulate a proactive communications plan that contributes to your company’s overall business goals.
Identify objectives, goals and KPIs
The next step is to determine what you hope to achieve through your internal communications plan. Do you want to gain more transparency and clarity across departments? Would you benefit from better accountability and employee feedback? Present your business problem and outline how strong internal communications can be a solution.
Be sure to define what you want your plan to achieve in measurable ways, so that you can continue to optimize along the way.
What key performance indicators will you look at? Are you going to review your plan quarterly or monthly? Which stakeholders will need to provide feedback? By having a framework in place for how you will evaluate the effectiveness of your plan, you can ensure that you remain on track to achieve your business goals.
Define your audience and tools
With the purpose of your internal communications plan identified, you'll need to define your audience(s) and the tools you will use for different messages. Consider who you are trying to communicate with—is it the entire team, or just certain departments? Not everyone should necessarily have access to the same information, so create a rank or prioritization for who receives what level of company data.
Choosing a communications delivery method is another important step in your communications plan. With all the available technology, it can be hard to decide on the perfect tools to distribute information. With some types of messages, such as contracts or salary negotiations, you'll want to keep records of your correspondence—so emails with PDF documents may be the best choice.
In other cases, such as quick questions that require immediate answers, messaging platforms such as Slack may be more effective.
When identifying the best tool for different situations be sure to ask:
- Who needs what kind of information and documents, and when?
- How will you confirm that a message has been received and understood?
- How often does a given type of message need to be sent? Will it result in a longer conversation?
- How immediately do certain questions or requests need to be addressed?
Setting out specific instructions on how and when to use each channel can help ensure that important information is not missed and that the team remains consistent. After all, details on the next office happy hour can be sent in a casual context, but that may not be the case when discussing benefits packages.
Creating your communications plan
After your goals, audience and tools are determined, it's time to actually create your internal communications plan. You can model it off of the following structure:
- Executive summary of plan
- Summary of plan goals and how they impact your larger business goals
- Explanation of current situation
- Explanation of changes to be made
- Description of communication channels and when/how they will be used
- Outline of implementation strategy
- Timeline for implementation
Internal communication part 3: how to roll out your plan
Once you've created your communications plan, you will need to implement it across the company. This involves getting key players on board and communicating to employees how and why the plan will positively help your company achieve its goals.
When implementing your plan, here are some key steps to take:
Get people involved
In order to implement your plan across the company, you need to delegate responsibility to department managers and leaders. Make sure these employees understand their roles and how to best explain the new communications plan to their team members.
Establish clear timelines for when individual departments should be using the tools and methods outlined in your plan.
You'll want to ensure that the managers who are implementing the plan with their teams publicly support the new direction. By presenting it in a positive light and thoroughly explaining the plan's goals and desired outcomes, employees will see the value and feel enthusiastic towards these changes. Be sure that these leads know how to train employees on any relevant tools or channels they will be using.
Communicate to employees
It is important to communicate to employees why the strategy is in place and how it will benefit the company. Consider having an internal presentation and departmental meetings to explain the new process. Be sure to offer concrete examples of problems or issues from previous miscommunications and show how the problem may have been solved or even avoided through proper communication methods. Investing time up front to be sure your employees are on board and excited about these internal changes will help to make the transition smooth and effective.
Provide opportunities for feedback
Soliciting feedback from staff is one of the best ways to evaluate whether your internal communications plan is functioning at an optimal level. In your department, you may be seeing improvements and effective communication, but you may not be aware of how other departments are adjusting to the changes. Be sure to have regular meetings in place to discuss common pain points.
You can also establish weekly check-in emails from department leads or monthly all-hands meetings.
Another way to obtain employee feedback is through employee surveys, using an application like Google Forms. Employees can answer anonymously or provide identifying information to share open and honest feedback.
Measure your success and celebrate wins
Whether you are measuring the success of your plan on a monthly or quarterly basis, be sure to refer back to the key performance indicators laid out in your plan. If you find your plan needs to updated, be sure to communicate these changes to the appropriate team leads so that the wider organization is kept up to date.
Also, don't forget to recognize departments or team members who have gone above-and-beyond to establish these new policies. If certain employees have been instrumental in implementing your communications plan across the company, you should formally applaud their efforts.
Be sure to note any areas where your communications plan has been particularly successful at solving common office issues. Consider celebrating these wins in internal emails, newsletters or at staff meetings. By highlighting the success of your plan so far, you can enforce its importance to employees and ensure that they will continue following the protocols and steps you've outlined.
High performing organizations make internal employee communications a priority. Regardless of the size of your company, smart communication strategies and channels will lead to a more efficient and profitable office.