When a business has 10 employees separated by the span of their arms, internal communications are as easy as an extra stretch and a shoulder tap. But as a company expands, the need for more structured – and regularly scheduled – communication grows as well.
Without a plan for developing this core competency, those casually outstretched arms will soon feel like frantic flailings in the deep end. Never fear though! By scaling your perspective, those spastic arms will become a synchronized stroke.
1. The Micro View – Laying the Foundation
Start with the nuts and bolts by developing a communications calendar that identifies:
• Your audience (all employees, salesforce only, senior managers, etc.)
• Your channel (print, online, video, event)
• Your content (earnings, announcement, success story, etc.)
Next, create a one-page document with the processes for each channel – from developing an idea through securing content, approvals and production. In this stage, take the time to create templates that will make your life much easier down the road, from standard PowerPoints to sample event agendas with content slots (State of the Business, Department updates, Q&A, etc.).
The key to success in this stage is not perfection, but execution. Just start swimming, but don’t worry if your backstroke isn’t completely straight. Once you start a regular communications schedule, you’ll quickly see what adjustments you need to make so you can stop hitting the wall with your head.
2. The Macro View – Incorporating Best Practices
Now that your feet are a little wet, it’s time to find out how other swimmers are doing. This means making time for your own professional development, through online seminars, conferences, and networking events so you can see what’s working in other companies, such as virtual town halls, employee-generated meeting content, internal TED-style presentations. Reach out to these fellow communications professionals to hear some fresh perspectives and share some of your own.
Someone somewhere has an idea you can use – or a problem you can help solve.
3. The Meta View – Plugging into the Zeitgeist
Whether it’s gamification, three-way communication, portfolio careers, or the latest Hollywood blockbuster, the trends that shape our daily lives have an impact on the people you’re communicating with. Your employees have a life outside of the organization, where advertising, pop culture, politics, economics and more all play a role. To keep your communications efforts relevant, you’ll need to incorporate these external forces into your internal efforts.
If reality shows are all the range, picture how your senior leaders might respond to a humorous all-in-one-house opening video. If selfies are “the thing”, create a contest for the best customer service video filmed on a smart phone. Even those Buzzfeed surveys can be a fun way to engage your employees and give you an opportunity to drive home some strategic content. Just imagine what messages you could deliver through a “What Kind of Company Mascot Are You?” survey.
Without structure, your internal communications are just treading water. But with the right view, you’ll be swimming your way to success in no time.