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When there is no time for a revolution in internal communication

Why in many cases it is so difficult to make a new opening and introduce significant changes to internal communication in an organization? What should be key focus areas while taking over an internal communication position in a company and why in many instances there is simply no time for a revolution in communication?

The first reconnaissance 

Typically, corporate new-joiners do not suffer from routine, they rather complain about lack of time and abundance of new tasks and responsibilities. Taking over new responsibilities is more time and effort consuming than everyday well-known tasks. On top of that, when you are going to be responsible for internal communication, you have to get to know the organization to a much greater extent than other employees. Besides tasks and goals in the new position, you have to recognize formal and informal structure and relationships in the company, do not avoid small talks and informal conversations in the company kitchen or even having a smoke from time to time with some seasoned colleagues. It is important to get to know the company as well as possible – its official values, mission and vision, but also informal perspective – sentiments, myths and open secrets, including opinions about internal communication and company’s management.

Operational tasks distract from strategic work

New employees, after joining the company, have many fresh ideas and change suggestions drawing on their past experiences from other companies. Organizational communication is a wide area and gives a lot of room for this kind of improvements. And although new employees do not lack enthusiasm neither willingness to introduce enhancements to the existing internal communication practices, very often nothing comes out of it. Why? Well, business is very dynamic and won’t wait for the internal communicator to do the internal communication audit or even a short study to draw initial conclusions and plan his/her actions. A new communicator is usually thrown in deep water, right in the middle of urgent operational tasks. And since there is usually one, maybe two internal communicators in the company, they have to constantly decide on their priorities and choose between urgent and important. This is the reason why so often instead of starting a communication revolution, internal communicators focus on operational activities. And there is always something pressing to communicate – quarterly results, management board road show, personnel changes, refreshed strategy, new trainings politics, etc. – and all of this has to be communicated without any delay. There are many functions in companies that constantly have to work on the balance between operational and strategic tasks – in internal communication it is very important. It is easy to get under the pressure of operational activities and focus only on them, postponing strategic and conceptual work.

Bearing this in mind, IC professionals should very carefully declare what and when they will deliver, especially when it comes to changes and improvements – even if the expectations are high. It is difficult to start revolution in internal communication also for another reason – its progress and results will be assessed by everyone in the company, so the more it is necessary to measure one’s strength in this case.

A few bites for the start

At the beginning it is better to start with small bites – instead of a full diagnosis of internal communication, a preliminary study will be enough. Apart from the informal opinions and conversations, more formal analysis will be needed, e.g. quantitative on-line survey. Its results will support the research conclusions with data. Numbers are much appreciated in the business world, and in the work of IC professional are very helpful to ensure objectivity of our recommendations which relate to soft and emotional aspects of business activity. Quantitative data will serve to draw an initial outline of activities, which then can be filled with details and conclusions coming from in-depth interviews with chosen employees.

Why are you here?

In the recruitment processes, we will rarely hear real reasons for changes in the position we apply for, however, as soon as we find ourselves in the company, it is worth knowing the true motives. It’s always important irrespectively of position and function somebody has in the company. Equally important is to find out the expectations as to the changes and desirable actions of internal communication. In order to learn the answers, internal communicator should take the first steps to the boardroom, even if he/she works on a specialist position with no direct responsibility to the CEO or management board members.

Five steps for a good start in internal communication

Maybe you won’t start an internal communication revolution at the beginning of work in a new company, but for sure you can successfully make a “new opening” following several principles:

  • Asses the actual possibilities of internal communication and available resources – it is easy to overpromise – after all five e-mail announcements instead of two are not so many. In practice, this can mean a big difference.
  • Manage expectations – in prepared presentation or other form of change proposition, allocate your resources both between change implementation and continuing usual operational activities.
  • Plan internal communication audit in several stages, create action plan starting with activities that will bring visible effects in a relatively short time – “quick wins”.
  • Get information from senior management about expectations of internal communication and take them into account in action plans.
  • Listen to informal opinions; after confirmation from several sources, take them into account when planning the changes.

A to wszystko po to, żeby określić priorytety i skupić się na najważniejszych zadaniach, które realizowane będą w pierwszym rzędzie. Na inne może nie starczyć czasu, jeśli rozpocznie się komunikacyjna rewolucja.

You will need this in order to set right priorities and implement the most important tasks first – otherwise you may not have enough time to start internal communication revolution.

 


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