When communicators say that one in three business leaders don’t understand the value of IC, how do we persuade execs that our day-to-day work makes a strategic contribution to an organisation’s success?
What would you say if your chief executive asked you to prove the value of internal communication to your organisation? It’s not always easy to summarise what we do in a simple soundbite.
Thought leader Jeff Zwier believes that many leaders still think that ‘ultimately IC is about keeping employees informed, making sure everyone knows our strategy, or helping people feel good about where they work’.
But, he argues, that perception of IC is more than a little dated: “Modern IC professionals are focused on engaging leaders with employees, facilitating knowledge sharing and building conversations across organisations in ways that deliver tangible value.”
But how do you know you’re delivering ‘tangible value’ and more importantly, how can you demonstrate that?
In the latest Gatehouse State of the Sector survey, around one in three respondents said their leaders don’t understand the value of internal comms.
This alarming statistic is one reason why measurement is – or should be – such a fundamental part of what we do. We need to demonstrate the value of our work.
Good measurement can help you to determine which methods, tactics and tools are working – and which aren’t. The latter, of course, will help you to make your communications more effective.
Yet amazingly, this is something that very few organisations do, despite there being very few reasons obstacles to doing so.
Focusing on measurement will help you to demonstrate the value of what you do based on hard facts. There are many tools available to today’s communicators, including:
As with so much of internal comms, there is no ‘one size fits all’; your approach will vary depending on your structure, culture, budget, resources, people and a range of other factors.
But once you’re armed with the hard facts about what’s working and what’s not you can shape your comms channels to meet audience needs and organisational objectives.
And there’s a great deal of evidence that links communication with engagement and organisational success.
In the MacLeod report there are many examples: not just of the financial link, but other correlations such as:
- 70% of engaged employees indicate they have a good understanding of how to meet customer needs; only 17% of non-engaged employees say the same (Right Management 2006)
- 84% of highly engaged public sector workers believe they have an impact on an organisation’s work – three times those who are disengaged (Towers Perrin 2007)
- Engaged employees take an average of 2.69 sick days vs 6.19 among the disengaged (Gallup)
- High-performing organisations have formal communication strategies (51% vs 40% low
So what would this mean for your organisation?
At the first level is essential job-related information for efficiency and effectiveness, understanding the organisation’s goals and plans, and also lateral communication – providing opportunities for employees to share best practice.
You must be able to measure outcomes. If you can’t measure the activity, don’t do it.Government Communication Service’s IC Spaces
This links to engagement, which is defined in many different ways but can be described as employees having motivation, commitment to their organisation and also willingness to contribute – going the extra mile.
At the next stage is a successful organisation. This might include strengthening your reputation in the industry, or your financial health.
To help you find out the value your internal communication is bringing to the business, writer Mike Klein outlines in a LinkedIn article six elements in what he describes as a ‘value portfolio’.
He explains that these provide a ‘classification of communication activity against the most popular desired outcomes I’ve seen in my 15+ years as an internal communication pro’.
Mike’s list considers:
- Financial impact – does your activity directly target financial performance?
- Organisational alignment – does your comms help people to focus on common goals?
- Visibility – does your work raise the profile of intended beneficiaries?
- Positivity – does your comms increase employee confidence and enthusiasm for taking part in
- Infrastructure development – does your work increase the resilience, utility, or ROI of
- Network effectiveness – does your activity make the informal comms network stronger, faster, better informed or more consistent?
Regular and ongoing measurement is an increasingly important part of a communicator’s role, as the industry continues to show that it makes a strategic contribution to overall organisation success.
To quote a line from the Government Communication Service’s IC Space: “You must be able to measure outcomes. If you can’t measure the activity, don’t do it.”
Want to learn more? Keep an eye out for Sequel’s White Paper on The Value of Internal Comms or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register for a copy.