Planning internal communication for your team (with templates)
The first step towards improved team communication is planning the improvements you want to implement. To do this, you’ll need an internal communication plan, with clear communication strategies you’ll implement in your workplace.
But, what exactly is an internal communication strategy plan?
Why is having a clear internal communication plan important?
How do you write an internal communication plan? In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how you can prepare for creating an internal communication plan, create it, and track its performance and overall effectiveness in the workplace. Here, you’ll also find free templates that will make the process of planning and creating an internal communication strategy plan that’s suitable for your workplace easier and quicker.
Quick access to internal communication templates:
What does internal communication include?
Before we dive into everything you need to know about internal communication planning, let’s consider the definition of internal communication first — so, what is internal communication?
Well, internal communication (IC) is a concept focused on promoting effective communication amongst the people within an organization.
As such, it involves:
- the processes of producing and delivering messages to the people working in an organization, on behalf of the management;
- the practices and solutions meant to facilitate dialogue between the people working in the said organization.
Internal communication is usually the official responsibility of the HR department or the entire management body — but, by extension, it is also the responsibility of everyone involved in any kind of communication in the workplace, due to the benefits it brings when it’s effective.
When it comes to its benefits, in gist, effective internal communication:
- helps keep everyone informed;
- gives people a clear view of the happenings in the organization;
- helps build the company culture;
- prescribes channels for feedback, discussions, negotiations, and other communication situations typical for a business setting;
- provides a whole new dimension for facilitating effective teamwork.
What is an internal communication plan?
An internal communication strategy plan involves all the business goals, practices, and guidelines that are meant to guide your organization towards effective internal communication.
A well-thought-out plan for internal communication provides an outline of how exactly individuals, teams, and the management, on the whole, should communicate amongst themselves, to support and advance the business’ objectives.
Such a plan usually sheds light on the following elements:
- The organization’s objectives;
- The organization’s vision;
- Key business messages;
- Prescribed channels of communication;
- Staff responsibilities;
- Staff processes;
- External marketing and communication plan.
Unfortunately, a report by Gallagher shows that as many as 60% of organizations simply don’t have such long-term strategies for their internal communication.
What are the benefits of a clear internal communication plan?
George Bernard Shaw once said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” So, effective communication is not something that just happens — a report by Vingapp shows this in numbers and facts:
- employees tend to spend up to two hours per day gossiping and worrying;
- as many as 55% of employees state the nature of their job benefits is not clear nor comprehensive enough;
- having more questions than answers brings uncertainty, frustration, an increase in rumors, and lower productivity overall.
Because of this, it’s important to make a conscious effort to facilitate communication in the workplace — the first step on that road is creating a clear and comprehensive internal communication strategy plan.
Here are the benefits to such an endeavor:
Easier and better communication
According to studies by Reuters and the Working Council of CIOs, employees spend as much as 20% of their work time searching for information they need in order to carry out their work. However, a more structured approach to communication (e.g. using a specialized app for communication), can reduce this wasted time by as much as 15%.
A clear process for connecting staff to the right resource provider and the right information, at the right time is crucial — it helps everyone save time and be more efficient with their work. In line with that, having a clear plan for internal communication will help clarify when to look for this information, as well as where and how to look for it.
Such a plan helps teammates carry out two-way communication with their colleagues and superiors quicker and easier. It helps them understand who they need to ask to get the answers they need.
But, it also sheds light on where they need to seek one-way communication, i.e. static information about procedures and processes.
Employees feel more valued
Francis Bacon once said: “Knowledge is power”. And, employees who possess the knowledge about what is happening at their companies, and what benefits and resources they have at their disposal, are more likely to feel they have the power to perform their expected duties and responsibilities. But, they are also more likely to feel valued by their employers, who’ve made the extra effort to provide their employees with all the information they need for work and progress. After all, one APA survey finds that 93% of employees who feel valued at work report they are motivated to perform their best — data which highlights “feeling valued” as an important concept to pursue.
Improved employee engagement
One report by Gallup shows that companies lose between $450 and $550 billion per year on disengaged employees. On the other hand, a report by Culture IQ shows that companies who have engaged employees perform 200% better than those who don’t.
In line with that, a well-thought-out internal communication plan helps increase employee engagement by helping you measure, cultivate, and optimize internal communication channels in order to improve and speed up communication.
This, in turn, improves employee retention, acquisition, and productivity.
Great internal communication starts with great leadership, and great leadership is the key to an effective workforce — after all, one 10-year study based on 200,000 managers and employees shows that 79% of people who quit their jobs do so because they believe they experience a lack of appreciation from their leaders. On the other hand, leaders who are aware of how they need to communicate with their employees are more likely to be better at attracting, creating, and retaining an engaged workforce. And, a clear understanding of how you need to create a straightforward internal communication plan is the key to creating leaders who are effective communicators.
Trust is an important factor in a company — according to one US-based study cited in the Harvard Business Review, high-trust companies report the following benefits, when compared to low-trust companies:
- 13% fewer sick days;
- 29% higher life satisfaction;
- 40% less burnout;
- 50% higher productivity;
- 74% less stress;
- 76% higher engagement;
- 106% higher energy at work.
In line with that, a company that has a well-organized plan for internal communication builds trust that it is also well-organized in other aspects of its business. This is especially useful to disclose to potential high-end hires who will appreciate knowing that you value well-structured organization in all aspects of work — including your approach to internal communication.
An improved culture of open communication
Each successful instance of internal communication paves the way to a culture of open communication — and, one US-based survey that covered 1,000 full-time employees shows that 81% of people value “open communication” more than free food, gym memberships, and even health plans when choosing their companies. In line with that, open communication is worth cultivating — and, having a straightforward plan for improved internal communication can only help you encourage open communication by methodically endorsing and encouraging it.
Now that we understand the benefits of having a straightforward overview of strategies for effective internal communication, let’s focus on how you can approach creating such a plan.
How do you write an internal communication plan?
In this section, we’ll disclose a detailed guide on how you can prepare for, create, as well as analyze and modify the plan for effective internal communication in your workplace.
Step #1: Assess the current state of communication in the workplace
The first step in planning workplace communication involves observing and analyzing the current state of communication in your workplace. In line with that, this is predominantly a step that will prepare you for the creation of your new internal communication plan.
For this purpose, you can assess your previous internal communication plan (if any existed), make the effort to understand how employees communicate now, gather employee feedback, but also employ additional methods of measuring the state of internal communication.
Here’s what each point is about in more detail.
Assessing your previous internal communication plan
If your company has already had an employee communication plan you’re merely upgrading, use it as a starting reference point.
During this stage, you can perform a SWOT analysis — i.e. list the proven Strengths and Weaknesses of your previous internal communication plan, as well as the potential Opportunities and Threats of your future internal communication plan.
- Strengths will answer the question:
- What did your previous internal communication plan do well?
- Weaknesses will answer the question:
- What areas did your previous internal communication falter in?
- Opportunities will answer the question:
- What opportunities can a revised internal communication plan bring you?
- Threats will answer the questions:
- What threats can a revised internal communication plan bring you?
When it comes to the strengths and weaknesses of your previous internal communication plan, treat them accordingly — once you’ve identified them, always do away with the weaknesses and copy the strengths when creating the revised plan.
🔸Examples: if a specific aspect of conducting daily meetings didn’t work in the past, revise it for the future. Moreover, if a specific channel of communication had a low adoption rate, replace it with a more efficient solution people are more likely to adopt.
When it comes to the opportunities and threats the revised internal communication plan could bring, understanding them beforehand can help embrace the possible opportunities and do away with possible threats.
🔸Examples: Introducing several official channels for internal communication can help your remote team to stay connected through well-organized conversations, despite the physical distance. However, a larger number of new communication channels may also pose a threat to productivity and efficiency, as employees may become overwhelmed by the array of choices and use only a handful of them regularly.
Understanding how employees communicate now
You may not have a clear plan for internal communication just yet, but, that does not mean that your teammates don’t already communicate with each other, in one way or another. In gist, we recognize 4 main ways of communication in the workplace: verbal, body, phone, and written. People are most likely to take part in or initiate at least one of these ways of communication in a business setting, on a daily basis.
🎓 To learn more about the ways of communication, check out our comprehensive guide on the subject here → The types of communication
However, one of these ways of workplace communication is likely to be dominant, at least in certain situations. For example, you and your teammates may:
- carry out daily meetings verbally, in person;
- use a company wiki to document and find information about company procedures and policies;
- use the phone to communicate with clients;
- use a team chat app to communicate with colleagues.
In any case, it’s important that you consider whether, when, and how you use different ways of communication in the workplace.
Then, you should try to answer the following questions:
Are the current ways of communication efficient? If not, what needs to be changed?
As a result, perhaps you’ll find that:
- it would be more productive to carry out client communication via email (e.g. because phone calls take too long, on average);
- your company wiki is severely underused and that employees tend to turn to other, unofficial means of informing themselves about policies and procedures (e.g. they ask the head of HR directly, or their direct superiors, or other colleagues);
- it would be better if you were to use your chat app for stand-ups on the days when you’re too swamped with work to attend face-to-face meetings (e.g. to avoid the tension and stress that come with rushing to make it to the meeting on time).
In any case, assessing how your company communicates at the moment is crucial to helping you understand what you need to revise or improve in the future.
Gathering employee feedback
When assessing the current state of communication in the workplace, pay close attention to the opinions of the people who actually have to communicate with each other in your company — i.e. the employees.
The previous point dealt with how employees do communicate in your workplace, i.e. the ways of communication they use. This point deals with how employees feel about the state of communication in your workplace.
According to a research paper published by East Tennessee State University, the following solutions are a great way to facilitate feedback from employees:
- Suggestion boxes;
- Focus groups;
- Management discussion groups.
Now, no matter whether you are running a company-wide survey or conducting interviews with group representatives of teams or departments, you can consider the following questions:
- Do your employees know what the company goals are and what roles they play in achieving those goals?
- Do your employees get the information they need to perform their work in a clear manner?
- Do your employees feel valued for the work they perform?
- Are they recognized when they perform well at work?
- How would they rate communication with their colleagues and superiors?
- What do they believe to be the best aspects of internal communication in your company?
- What aspects of internal communication do they believe need improvements in your company?
To find answers to these, and other similar, relevant questions, you can use a simple questionnaire that will help you identify potential pain points, if any.
Here’s is a questionnaire with a Likert Scale you can distribute to your teammates or select focus groups, to better understand how your employees feel about the current state of communication in your workplace.
Employing other methods of measuring the state of internal communication
In addition to collecting employee feedback, you can also employ other methods of measuring the current state of internal communication, such as monitoring the rate of interactions in the communication channels your team uses:
- With chat apps, you can monitor the rate of interactions by observing the number of frequency of reactions (i.e. emojis and subsequent follow-ups the original comment gets);
- With emails, you can monitor the rate of interactions by tracking the open-rate and click-through-rate of internal newsletters;
- With an intranet solution, you can monitor the rate of interactions by analyzing Intranet analytics.
As a result of your analysis, you may find that you need to make certain changes and improvements.
Step #2: Define the right communication goals
This step answers the question of What? What do you want to accomplish with your communication plan?
Overall, your communication goals should answer the following questions:
- What changes and improvements in the current communication processes will you implement?
- What topics will you address in the internal communication strategy plan?
At this point, you’ll probably want to define a clear vision for internal communication. Your organization probably already has a clear vision you strive for externally — but, you can define another vision to serve as a loadstar in internal communication, i.e. your main communication goal.
This internal vision can serve as a great tactic for checking and balancing the communication efforts of the people who are partaking in the implementation of the internal communication plan. Ideally, it should show how you would like to organize communication in the future, and answers the questions such as:
- What are we aiming to achieve, in terms of internal communication?
- What are we aiming to avoid, in terms of internal communication?
- What will effective communication look like?
- What will ineffective communication look like?
While defining your communication goals, you should also take into account what people will or should take from the changes you propose.
For this purpose, you can rely on the Know-Feel-Do approach, and answer the following questions:
- What will the audience of the internal communication plan need to KNOW to start implementing it?
- What will your audience need to FEEL to start implementing the internal communication plan?
- What will your audience need to DO to mark the internal communication plan as a success?
In gist, the key answers to these questions lie in clearly defining your communication goals and making them S.M.A.R.T.
Make your communication goals S.M.A.R.T.
In line with the definitions of what each of the 5 letters that describe S.M.A.R.T. goals stands for, S.M.A.R.T. communication goals would be objectives for internal communication that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Specific goals — i.e. defined in an unambiguous manner
To make your communication goals specific, make sure you define them clearly, in simple terms your audience will easily be able to understand.
🔸 Example: We want to introduce a new team chat app company-wide on the first of next month, to enable asynchronous communication for our remote team, and facilitate team collaboration from afar.
Measurable goals — i.e. the success of implementing them can be measured
To make your communication goals measurable, you’ll need to create quantifiable targets that will help you track your progress towards the goals.
🔸 Example: The number of active users will tell us whether people are using the prescribed team chat app.
Attainable goals — i.e. possible to achieve
To make your communication goals attainable, you’ll need to ensure they are achievable within the specified time and with the available resources, by the teams and individuals wanting to pursue them.
🔸 Example: Teammates company-wide will have access to the link where they can download the desktop, web, or mobile solutions they need.
Relevant goals — i.e. material to what you want to achieve
To make your communication goals relevant, you’ll need to ensure your objectives will have the desired effect on the success of your company and the efficiency of your teams.
🔸 Example: Considering that the team is operating remotely, and cannot meet face-to-face for discussions, meetings, negotiations, and similar situations, an online team chat app is crucial to help everyone stay connected and in the loop with what’s going on in the company;
Time-bound — i.e. marked with time-bound deadline(s)
To make your communication goals time-bound, you’ll need to develop a timeline that will keep the people your internal communication plan is aimed at, accountable.
🔸 Example: Teammates company-wide should download the app by the 1st of next month, and be logged in (i.e. available for questions, answers, ideas, and opinions) during work hours on weekdays (e.g. from 9 am to 5 pm).
Once you’ve made sure that all your communication goals are S.M.A.R.T., it’s important that you provide a bigger picture for them, with the right Objectives and Key Results.
Set Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) for internal communication
According to the definition, Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) represent a goal-setting framework meant to help you set and pursue challenging goals that have measurable results. Objectives represent what you want to achieve, and Key Results represent the points of reference that tell you whether you are progressing towards what you want to achieve. In line with that, you should aim to place your S.M.A.R.T. goals into an appropriate OKR frame. This OKR frame should be time-bound, significant, concrete, action-oriented, and inspirational for the person or team implementing it — the results can be based on performance, engagement, or growth.
🔸 Example: Your Objective can be as simple as “Provide well-structured, constructive feedback”.
To measure the success of this objective, you can define 3-5 Key Results you’ll use as a point of reference:
- Key Results 1: Provide face-to-face feedback to individual members of your team, every Tuesday;
- Key Result 2: Arrange group meetings where you’ll highlight accomplishments and provide recognition to individual team members, every first Monday of the month;
- Key Result 3: Create written performance reviews at the end of each month.
⏬ Download an internal communication goals planning template based on the OKR framework, which you can use to set your objectives: Internal communication goals template
Step#3: Identify your audience
This step answers the question of Who? Who will your internal communication plan and the changes and improvements it prescribes be aimed at?
At this point, you’ll need to consider who the audience of your internal communication plan is:
- Who is the internal communication plan addressed to, i.e. who will be implementing it? Specific teams? Specific departments? Specific functions? The entire company, complete with all teams, departments, and functions?
The reason why your internal communication policy may be addressing only a specific audience can be tied to the answers in the questionnaire about the current state of internal communication — namely, perhaps only specific groups may need such guidance. Once you’ve decided who you are addressing, you’ll need to think about how you can encourage them to pursue the S.M.A.R.T. communication goals you’ve defined. Once again, the above-referenced questionnaire can help you with that, and shed light on your target audience:
- General likes/dislikes;
- Preferred ways of consuming information;
- Preferred way of conveying information;
- Preferences in terms of what type of messages they are most likely to comment on or react to.
⏬ To help you create a plan that suits your intended audience in terms of the above-listed parameters, you can use the following free template: A template for describing the audience of your internal communication plan
Step #4: Identify your motives
This step answers the question of Why? Why are you targeting specific elements in your internal communication plan?
At this points, you’ll need to consider why you are making specific decisions for your internal communication plan:
- Why are you targeting only specific groups?
- Why are you targeting the entire organization?
- Why are you addressing specific topics?
- Why are you pursuing specific goals?
Once you understand why you are pursuing certain outcomes and objectives, it will be easier to motivate yourself and the audience of the internal communication plan to pursue them.
Step #5: Pick the right communication solutions
This step answers the question of How? How will you communicate? Or, in other words, what types of communication channels and specific apps will you prescribe for use?
According to the Harvard Business Review, employee apps can improve internal communication. As a result of improving the efficiency of your internal communication through the use of the right apps, you’ll also:
- increase productivity;
- improve efficiency and compliance;
- reduce wasted time;
- identify inefficiencies that hinder work performance.
So, using the right channels of communication and the right communication apps is the key answer to how you should communicate — and, you should devote a significant portion of your internal communication plan to this matter.
During this step you should consider:
What types of communication channels should you use?
For example, you can implement:
- An internal podcast, to keep employees in the loop about important changes in the company;
- Company wikis, to keep employees informed about the procedures, policies, and expected workflows that apply to everyone;
- An internal blog, to help build team culture and connect teammates through articles that center on individual interviews where employees share their experience, knowledge, tips, interests, and past-times;
- A chat app, for interactions among teammates;
- A project management tool, for communicating project progress and details about specific tasks and deadlines;
- Face-to-face all-hands meetings.
🎓 To read more about the pros and cons of different channels of communication, check out the following guide: → The channels of communications
What specific communication apps can you use?
For example, you can implement:
- Adobe Audition, to serve as a recording and editing tool for your internal podcast;
- Confluence by Atlassian, to serve as a company-wide solution for creating and maintaining wiki pages on relevant company procedures, policies, and workflows;
- WordPress, to serve as a content management system for your internal blog;
- Pumble, a chat app, to serve as a company-wide solution for interacting with colleagues directly (via individual and group direct messages), and conversing with them about specific topics (via public and private channels).
- Trello, a project management tool, to serve as a solution for communicating project and task details and deadlines to select teams;
Once you’ve decided on the specific apps you’ll use for communication, you can also decide whether you’ll prescribe the use of the chosen communication apps on:
- desktop devices (e.g. Windows, Linux, macOS);
- mobile devices (e.g. Android iOS);
- the Web;
- several different platforms.
⏬ To help your team always pick the right communication solution, you can create an internal communication channel strategy using this free template: Internal communication channel matrix
Step #6: Define clear guidelines for efficient communication
This step will ensure your teammates understand how they can communicate efficiently at any time, no matter what they want to communicate and to whom.
Your internal communication plan can also include guidelines that will help individuals develop their messages efficiently.
In gist, such a guideline can include a simple checklist individuals need to answer to ensure their message is clear, straightforward, and unlikely to be misinterpreted.
- What do I want to convey?
- What impact do I want to make with my message?
- What’s in it for me if my message is properly interpreted?
- What’s in it for the receiver(s) of my message, if they interpret the message properly?
- Why do I want to convey this message?
- Why do I want to convey it now?
- Why do I want to convey it to this person or group of people?
- Where can the receiver of the message get more information about what I am trying to communicate?
- Where can I find the answers to subsequent questions the receiver(s) of my message may have, as a response to my original message?
- When do I need to get a reply?
- How do I want to get a reply?
- Who does my message impact?
- Who do I need to address for specific issues?
Within this step, you can also disclose the communication strategies you’ll prescribe for regular use.
⏬ You can create a team communication plan detailing the guidelines for each communication situation that takes place in your workspace (e.g. check-in meetings, feedback, presentations, etc.) using the template below: Internal communication guidelines
The strategies for effective communication
Typically, we recognize 7 types of communication strategies:
- NOMINATION — a speaker carries out nomination to collaboratively and productively establish a certain topic.
- Example: A strategy for establishing new topics (e.g. when people should create new public and private channels in your chat app).
- RESTRICTIONS — refers to any limitations you want to impose on the speakers, i.e. the rules that need to be followed and that confine the speakers in terms of what they can say.
- Example: A strategy for avoiding certain topics (e.g. politics, religion, and other potentially controversial subjects).
- TURN-TAKING — refers to giving all the communicators a chance to speak.
- Example: A strategy for respecting each other (e.g. giving each other enough time to speak, and actively listening to the ideas and opinions of others).
- TOPIC CONTROL — refers to the procedural formality or informality that affects how a topic will develop during a conversation.
- Example: A strategy for carrying out conversations (e.g. concluding conversation effectively, with mutual understanding and agreement).
- TOPIC SHIFTING — refers to the process of moving from one topic to another.
- Example: A strategy for shifting from one topic to the next (e.g. a specific topic-related public or private channel in your chat app should focus only on the prescribed topic).
- REPAIR — refers to how the speakers address an issue while speaking, listening, and aiming to understand what they encounter during conversations.
- Example: A strategy for respecting everyone’s effort to stay focused (e.g. giving way and appreciating other’s initiative to set the conversation back to the original topic).
- TERMINATION — refers to the expressions participants in a conversation use to end discussions on a topic while conversing.
- Example: A strategy for ending the conversation (e.g. the person who initiated the conversation takes on the responsibility to signal when the conversation should end).
⏬ Once you identify the strategies for effective team communication, you can use the free template below to write them down and share them with your team: Internal communication strategies for successful team discussions template
Step #7: Define when communication should happen
This step answers the question of When? When should teammates communicate?
At this point, you’ll need to consider the time-frames within your new internal communication plan. Or, in other words: When should the people addressed in the internal communication plan use specific prescribed channels of communication?
- When should you use the team chat app? (e.g. on a daily basis)
- When should you conduct stand-up meetings (e.g. on a weekly basis)
- When should you conduct all-hands meetings (e.g. on a three-month basis)
Within this step, you should also consider the timing for your plan, and answer the following questions:
- When will you start implementing the internal communication plan?
- When will you announce your internal communication plan?
- When will you expect improvements caused by the changes implemented in your communication processes, based on your internal communication plan?
To discuss all these points, you can organize a dedicated meeting and go over all the important details with your audience, in person.
⏬ To help you create an internal communication plan, try out the following template that covers the steps explained above: Internal communication plan template
Step #8: Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your internal communication plan
In this step, we’ll focus on how you can track the success of your internal communication plan, via Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
According to the definition, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) represent the indicators of progress towards an expected result. Here’s everything you need to know about defining, tracking, and analyzing the right Key Performance Indicators of your progress towards impeccable team communication.
KPI 1: Communication app adoption rates
When you introduce a new communication app, one of the most important KPIs you can track to measure the success of the said communication app within your workplace are — user adoption rates.
After all, the first sign that a communication app is not a good fit for your work environment is that barely anyone is using it.
For example, to analyze app adoption rates for a chat app, you can track:
- How many employees have downloaded the app?
- How many of them are actively using it?
- What is the level of completeness for employee profiles?
- Are people sending direct messages regularly?
- Are they using the private and public topic-based channels?
- Are they sharing attachments?
- Are they reacting and replying to their colleague’s comments, questions, and observations on a regular basis?
- Are they using the additional functionalities, such as voice and video calls?
If the adoption rates of your chosen chat app are not stellar in the first couple of weeks, don’t quit your app of choice just yet — instead, set a reasonable time period during which your teammates will have enough time to try out all the app’s functionalities and adapt to regular use.
KPI 2: Communication strategy adoption rates
This KPI is similar to the previous one. But, instead of measuring how eager employees are to use a prescribed communication app, you are measuring how eager employees are to employ the communication strategies you’ve prescribed in your plan.
As is the case with a communication app, the first sign that a communication strategy is a poor fit in your workplace is that barely anyone is implementing it.
To analyze communication strategy adoption rates you can track:
- How many people are implementing specific strategies overall?
For example, if your prescribed communication strategy for tracking and addressing daily progress with a project are daily stand-up meetings, are all relevant attendees active at the said meetings?
- How many people are implementing it on a prescribed basis?
For example, regarding those stand-up meetings, you can ask — how many people actually attend them on a daily basis? How effective are these meetings? Are they too brief and not informative enough? Are they too long and unfocused?
If people are not implementing your internal communication strategies the way you’ve envisioned, it’s time you find out why that is:
- Is it just a matter of slower adoption or smaller tweaks you need to make (in such a case, you should make the necessary tweaks and give the strategy more time to truly catch on);
- Is it a matter of a misaimed strategy? (in such a case, it’s worth significantly revising, or even completely dropping the strategy).
Time will tell what works and what doesn’t, but you will also need to make further, active inquiries.
KPI 3: Employee feedback
Speaking of active inquiries — if people find fault in aspects of your proposed communication strategies, they will directly or indirectly show this. In any case, eliciting employee feedback during the implementation of your internal communication plan is just as important as it was while you were merely preparing to create this plan. So, in addition to having an announcement/introductory meeting to disclose details of your proposal, you should also conduct at least one additional meeting, dedicated to eliciting opinions on the effectiveness of your communication strategies, once people have had enough time to test them out. For this purpose, you can also hold face-to-face consultations, create a company-wide survey, or ask for opinions from your focus group, to gather qualitative data — perhaps you’ll find some points that need further improvement and revision.
KPI 4: Productivity and performance
Ensuring that all information relevant for work is easily available and organized saves time and money. In line with that, one of the most useful KPIs you can track in your internal communication strategy plan is how and whether the practices, channels, and apps you’re implementing are actually improving people’s performance and productivity.
Are projects finished faster and with the same, or even higher quality? Are individual tasks finished before their deadlines? If the answers are “Yes”, this is a clear sign that communication is thriving in your workplace.
KPI 5: Collaboration
Communication and collaboration are two tightly intertwined concepts. Effective communication is the key to effective collaboration. In turn, effective collaboration breeds new instances of effective communication. If your team is collaborating effectively, i.e. reaching common goals and expected results, this is another clear sign that your communication strategies are working.
🎓 For in-depth information about collaboration among teams, visit our Team Collaboration Hub.
KPI 6: Innovation
Communication implies sharing ideas, observations, and opinions, and expanding one’s pool of knowledge by asking and answering the right questions at the right time. In line with that, a surge of innovative solutions in your organization can mean that people have increasingly been sharing their thoughts and ideas, which will again mean that your communication strategies have been effective.
KPI 7: Conflicts
Conflicts are often an unavoidable occurrence in a business environment. But, effective communication can decrease the number of conflicts that occur due to differences in work styles, personality types, or communication styles. If you notice that the implementation of your internal communication strategies coincides with the decrease in the number of reported conflicts on a regular basis, this might mean that people are opting to talk about their differences more often, and come to conclusions in an assertive manner.
KPI 8: Employee retention and turnover
Effective communication is directly tied to high employee retention and low employee turnover. After all, people who feel like their opinions matter to their managers (which, according to one Gallup report, is only 30% of the employees) are less likely to leave the said company. People who get timely feedback, get recognition for their hard work, and get clear directions for their future work, have high retention and engagement. If you notice that employee retention has increased and employee turnover has decreased in the previous period, this might be a sign that your internal communication plan is thriving.
KPI 9: External communication
If your internal communication strategies are effective, this will positively reflect on your external communication strategies as well.
You should expect a customer satisfaction increase, because the customer support and development teams are communicating more frequently and more effectively, and consequently solving customer’s problems more quickly and easily. In addition to that, a support team who is used to communicating on a regular basis amongst themselves is also more likely to be able to communicate with customers more effectively (e.g. understand their problems and concerns better, as well as communicate solutions better).
Moreover, you can even expect a sales increase, because the sales team is communicating more frequently and effectively, and thus in the position to be more persuasive with leads.
Step #9: Identify progress & optimize accordingly
In this final step, you should focus on identifying the progress you are making while implementing your internal communication plan, and optimizing aspects of the plan accordingly.
Once you start implementing your plan, you’ll best be able to understand what aspects of the plan work the way you’ve intended.
Once you identify the faults in your plan and areas that are not progressing as well as they should, your most efficient option is to simply make further revisions accordingly.
How to make a plan for communicating change to employees
One of the most delicate things to communicate to employees is any change within the organization. A study by McKinsey has found that as many as 70% of all change programs fail, largely due to employee resistance. However, this organization has also found that communication is the single most important factor that determines the success of a transformational change.
That’s why leaders and managers can’t simply implement the change and wait for the desired results. They need to create a careful communication plan to make it clear to their teams what is happening and why.
Making a plan for communicating change involves most of the steps already outlined above, namely:
- Think about the audience you need to reach;
- Set clear communication goals;
- Choose the right communication channels and tools;
- Define when communication should take place;
However, there’s another essential step in making this type of communication plan and that is:
- Identifying and defining the core message you want to communicate.
So apart from taking the usual steps in creating a communication plan, you need to pay special attention to tailoring the message so that employees understand why the change should happen and are not resistant to it. Research shows that one-third of employees don’t understand why the change is happening. However, their understanding and support are crucial — if they don’t get on board with the idea, it is doomed to failure.
As we’ve already covered the other steps above, here, we’ll focus on identifying and defining the core message you want to communicate, one step at a time.
Step 1: What is changing?
First, you need to explain what is about to change. In doing so, it’s best to be straightforward and get to the point at once. This is especially important if you know employees might be resistant to change at first. An honest and transparent approach will dispel any doubts that there might be a hidden reason behind the change that will negatively impact them.
Moreover, if you talk down to employees, this will make them feel underappreciated and resentful, which will not help you get them on board with the change.
🔸 Example: A company needs to make some budget cuts, which is why the management decides to reorganize their spending and cut some non-essential benefits and perks, such as team-building outings. The senior manager in charge of breaking the news starts by saying exactly what perks will take the cut.
Step 2: Why is it changing?
The rationale behind the proposed changes needs to be crystal clear to the employees. Otherwise, they may feel shocked, disappointed, and even personally attacked.
Of course, it’s again important to be straightforward and not sugarcoat the truth. If the change is something they will not take well, don’t try to tell them why it won’t be that bad for them. Instead, show them you care and understand their concerns, and focus on explaining why the change must take place.
🔸 Example: A manager is telling their team that there will be some procedural changes, resulting in a few team members getting different tasks and responsibilities. The manager anticipates that the said employees will not be happy, but goes on to explain that the changes are necessary due to overall team inefficiency (a lot of time is spent on marginal tasks, while the main ones require more manpower).
Step 3: How will employees benefit from the change?
So once employees understand what is changing and why, they might be more inclined to make peace with the change, but if you want to make them look forward to it, you need to explain what’s in it for them.
People are usually uncomfortable with any change at first because it moves them out of their comfort zone. So you need to make them see why it will be worth it. Even if the benefits won’t be immediate, you can explain why they will come in the near future.
However, don’t forget to acknowledge the team’s doubts and apprehensions and thank them for their patience and cooperation.
🔸 Example: The management is implementing a new and improved performance review system, which will be much more detailed and include more metrics, and employees will get reviews more often. While employees fear this practice might slip into micromanagement, the managers assure them that the more detailed reviews will help them see how they can improve the team’s work conditions and pinpoint the common employee pain points. This way, they can optimize the organization’s processes so that everyone is much more comfortable with their tasks.
Step 4: What do employees need to do differently?
Be clear when explaining what your team needs to do and what their role is in the change. When presenting the change and explaining how everyone fits into it, you may use some visuals, e.g. a Prezi presentation, to list and highlight everyone’s responsibilities and roles.
If the change involves some more than others or affects different departments in different ways, you may need to customize your communication plan depending on your audience.
🔸 Example: The management has some great news — the company is expanding with new talent! Since the number of new hires will be much higher than usual, everyone on the team will get a recruit to mentor and help adjust. Thus, the management has prepared a peer mentorship training program to help everyone understand what they need to do and how.
Step 5: How will the change unfold?
Now that everyone understands what and why will happen and how it will affect them, it’s time to detail the change process. Knowing that something will change, but not being able to picture how can leave employees anxious about the change as they won’t be sure what to expect on a day-to-day basis.
So chart the change plan and share it with your employees. Get everyone involved so that you can implement the change together as a team. What’s more, this will allow the team members to share their opinions and ideas on it and provide invaluable feedback.
🔸 Example: A customer support team is transitioning to another helpdesk software. The process is complex and precarious as the team needs to transition as efficiently and effectively as possible in order not to cause any issues for customers. That’s why the team leader explains in detail how the transition process will unfold so that everyone can prepare.
⏬ When you have identified and defined your core message, you can proceed to make a detailed plan for relaying it. Here’s a free template you can use for that purpose: Communicating change to employees template
Having a clear internal communication plan is key to a well-structured, well-organized, and well-connected workforce that has the means to thrive towards its business goals. The optimal type of internal communication plan is one that:
- is well-aligned with your audience, motives, and past experiences about what works and what doesn’t;
- includes a clear set of prescribed guidelines for communication channels, apps, and practices;
- includes communication goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound;
- includes a well-defined set of Objectives and Key results, to serve as a framework for measuring goals and outcomes;
- includes a set of Key Performance Indicators for measuring performance;
- is flexible enough for further optimization, if needed, and when needed.
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