It’s easy to get caught up in all of the customer-facing details of your business and ignore internal issues. But ignoring internal communication can cause problems that grow over time and affect your business inside and out. Deal with communication problems now by creating a simple internal communication plan for your business. Examples of internal communications within a business include formal meetings, presentations, workshops, memos, and reports. Your plan will serve as a blueprint for your internal communications strategy.
Why do you need an internal communication plan?
Don’t jump into the process before you understand the reason you’re spending time and effort on a plan. An internal communications plan:
- Helps you consistently communicate with employees so they are aware of the goals you have for your business or a specific project.
- Communication helps employees take action so they can help achieve those goals.
- Defines the important communication strategies to focus on, when they’ll be implemented, and how they’ll be measured.
- Should positively impact employee performance.
How is an internal communication plan structured?
A traditional internal communication plan can be as short as one page but should include these components:
- An outline of where your business currently stands
- The business communication goals you want to accomplish
- Your audience
- Your core messages
- How you’ll measure progress
Here are details about each step.
Tips to create your internal communication plan
Perform a status quo analysis
Provide an overview of where your business stands. Are you in a growth period or holding steady? Why do you need an internal communications plan now? For example, if you’re hiring or promoting employees, this might cause a shift in priorities. If you’ve introduced new products or services, does the team understand them? Check in with key stakeholders to make sure you’ve covered everything. As the owner, you might be too close to your business to accurately present an overview.
Set priorities with SMART objectives
SMART objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. Here are examples of how you can use SMART objectives to keep you on track when creating an internal communications plan.
Specific – Clearly outline your goals
Measurable – What metrics will you put in place to gauge the effectiveness of your plan?
Achievable – Do you or your team have the bandwidth to complete the plan with the resources available?
Relevant – Don’t create this plan just because you think you should have one. Make sure your efforts will move the needle to help you reach your goals.
Time bound – What’s the deadline?
Your employees may not have issues with internal communication voice, tone, style, or frequency. What might cause issues is the method of communication. When employees have to address lots of daily emails, pay attention to afterhours text messages, or sit through inefficient meetings, internal communication can get out of control. These days, there are digital tools that address these issues. Instant messaging platforms like Slack, shared note documents, or cloud-based collaborative tools can cut down on the clutter.
Your employees might range in age-take that into account. Millennials like texts while Gen X-ers and Baby-Boomers still prefer in-person conversations, emails and phone calls. You’ll need to determine how you can connect with everyone while keeping efficiency top of mind.
Understand your audience
Do you have a finger on the pulse of your employees? It’s important to understand how they feel about the current communication strategies. If speaking to employees one-on-one isn’t practical, set up a quick online survey employees can take anonymously. You’ll learn what’s working, what isn’t, and what employees would like to see change or stay the same.
Outline core messages
What do you want employees to get from internal communications? Goals might include increasing employee engagement, decreasing meetings, or improving overall work performance.
What worked? What didn't? After your plan has been in place, check in with your team to determine if they are happy with how things are going. Your employees are in the trenches every day and will have valuable insights and suggestions.
Once you’ve put your plan into place, here are some guidelines for your internal communications:
- Keep them simple: People tend to remember things better when they aren’t complex.
- Communicate clearly: Skip the flowery language. Get to the point quickly and succinctly.
- Be credible: Use facts, figures, and examples when needed
- Create a connection: Some communication will be all business. But you don’t have to be formal all the time. Something funny or reflective can enhance your message.
No matter what messages your sending internally, use a template to keep yourself organized, consistent, and concise.