How to be More Strategic with your Internal Communication
This article has been adapted from Lee’s blog on the Government Communication Service’s ‘IC Space’, which you can find here.
What do we mean when we talk about strategic internal communication?
By definition, a strategy is “a high level plan of action to achieve a long term or overall aim.” Roughly translated from its Greek roots it means “art of troop leader; office of general, command, generalship”. So, to be strategic as a communicator is to be focused on enabling your organisation’s strategy – in short to help your organisation to get where it’s going. But, more than that, it’s about taking the lead too.
That word – enabling – is really important. It’s why we exist. As a support function (or ‘overhead’ as my old boss used to describe us) we exist only to help the organisation achieve what it needs to achieve. This is our reason for being and is something we need to constantly remind ourselves of. If we’re not doing that, we’re not adding value.
We’re not paid to create a happy workplace or to deliver beautiful content or award winning channels (though of course those things may help the organisation achieve its goals). Our ultimate role is to inform, motivate and inspire employees so they can fulfil their roles to the best of their ability and contribute to the success of the organisation. We exist to guide the organisation (and at its most basic an organisation is nothing more than a collection of individuals working towards a common goal) on its journey and to create the right environment for success.
Being strategic means keeping sight of this higher purpose – something we will be discussing at our upcoming seminar on employer brand, which you can register for here. It’s not about what we churn out (our outputs), but whether we are helping the organisation move forward (delivering outcomes). So, to be strategic is to begin with that end in mind.
Being strategic means taking those ‘big picture’ organisational goals and translating them into internal communication outcomes. It’s all about alignment. With a clear view of what your organisation is trying to achieve, ask yourself, what can I do to move the needle? If revenue growth is a goal, ask what IC can do to help drive sales? If cost efficiency is vital, what can you do to save money? If geographic expansion is a top priority, how can you support this?
There are many things we can do to move that needle – effective communication builds awareness and promotes understanding amongst employees and inevitably a lot of our work is focused here. But is all that adding value? Outcomes go beyond this and are often behavioural. By all means consider what you want employees to think and feel, but better still consider what it is you need them to DO. We’re in the business of behaviour change.
For me, being strategic is not about having a fat strategy document in place (though I would love to see more robust planning used in IC) but about ensuring as much as possible of what you do links back to the organisation’s goals and priorities. If we’re delivering the outcomes that enable these, then it’s hard for anyone to accuse us of not being strategic or to question our value.
Lee Smith is co-founder of London-based internal communication agency Gatehouse, a Gallagher Company. He has spent more than half his life in the communication business – a career that has spanned nearly three decades, covered both internal and external communication disciplines and in-house and agency roles.
Join Lee at our next seminar:
Rediscovering the Power of Your Employer Brand: Best Practice Communications for Employer
WHERE: Gallagher | The Walbrook Building | 25 Walbrook | London EC4N 8AW
WHEN: 19 APRIL 2018 | 8:30 Registration and Breakfast | 9:00 Start | 10:30 Close
Keeping your employees on board is critical to delivering your organisation’s objectives. So, how do destination employers leverage the value of their brand and use it to inspire their people? This session will demonstrate the value of employer brand, show you how to make the brand promise real to your employees, and provide practical guidance to help you keep your finger on the pulse.
Places are limited. Register today to avoid disappointment!