The foundation of your role as strategic communicator is to understand what good communication looks like and help your organization get there. You’ll have to dive into what makes your company tick and what actions or behaviors your company values. And most importantly: What are we measuring?
As you define the communications best practices for your organization, don't miss the opportunity to hype the the good work your team does. You understand what messages and channels most resonate with your employees. Even better, that deep understanding of how to reach people with engaging content is critical when creating best practices.
Internal communicators must rely on business unit or department leadership to support, reinforce and cascade certain activities, too. After all, managers have arguably the biggest impact on an individual employees’ perception of the company. It’s critical to focus on leadership actions and attitudes when defining what "good" looks like.
Here are some examples of best practices to expect from leaders:
Leaders focus on communicating key metrics around financial performance, employee engagement results and customer satisfaction scores
Leaders insist their employees attend the company’s town hall meetings
Leaders provide content for the company’s intranet or internal newsletter and encourage their teams to contribute
Leaders have clear and consistent communications around the company’s strategy, including customers, products and markets
Leaders frequently and enthusiastically share the answer to “Why do we win?”
Leaders paint a clear picture on how their team impacts the organization as a whole
Leaders create an atmosphere that drives information engagement opportunities (e.g., employees easily approach them to discuss the weather, their kid’s soccer game or a critical operations issue)
Leadership is actively involved with the planning and execution of important communications activities
You can also evaluate other actions that influence the employee experience. These are likely team-building and culture programs, each with an important communications component.
Employee recognition programs
Employee wellness activities
Sponsored community programs and other CSR/ESG opportunities
Social activities (e.g., BBQs, holiday parties, etc.)
Finally, DO NOT FORGET to set parameters for measuring the effectiveness of existing communications. For example:
Communications have clear calls to action or set expectations for behavior. Don’t just tell them what, tell them how.
Communications are engaging and authentic. We’re people, not robots.
Communications are regular, consistent and anticipated by employees. If you stop doing something, will they notice?
Flexibility is key to maintaining your best practices. It's glaringly obvious that environments and ways of working can change in an instant. Your task is to constantly be on the lookout for what will have the biggest positive impact on employees at any given time, then be prepared to share that information with leaders.
Once this exercise is complete, you will be able to:
Articulate what good communications look like at your company with a high degree of confidence.
Develop targeted action plans that will move the needle at any level of the organization.
Understand critical communications gaps that you have the necessary skills to fill – And fill them.
Benchmark communications across your company.
Use this understanding to shape the content you create.
Prove your tremendous value.