IABC has joined forces with the internal communication consultancy Gatehouse to convert the popular Accelerate program into an online learning opportunity. Here, Gatehouse expands on an Accelerate program hallmark of organizational collaboration by sharing strategies for organizations to achieve their goals through practicing effective internal communication.
Organizational Goals and IC: Addressing the Disconnect
When it comes to successfully delivering effective internal communication (IC), clear objective setting is key. Without it, organizations will continue grapple with the unique strategies, goals, priorities, challenges and opportunities they need to filter through their corporate landscape.
Great IC is about helping the organization move forward to pursue its strategy and realize its vision. That’s the very reason it exists.
Yet much of what we do, as IC practitioners, remains fundamentally disconnected from corporate goals.
Why Is This?
It’s safe to say we often fall at the first hurdle by not spending enough time thinking about the actual role communication needs to play in what the organization wants to achieve.
Well-run organizations have clearly mapped strategies in place. These tend to be made up of a small number of key priorities agreed upon by the senior executive team and used as a definitive point of reference for all things IC.
When a strategy is unclear or simply nonexistent, the IC requirement revolves around helping leaders identify and articulate the organization’s strategy.
For argument’s sake, let’s assume we’re working with a clear strategy, and we know where our organization is heading and how it intends to get there in the short, medium and long term.
That all sounds marvelous, so easy! Except the path from the strategic priority to a clear communication goal is far from easy. If you’re willing to sweat it out, however, it’s well worth the effort.
Fortunately, the logic itself is simple: take the goal, unpack it, question it and work out how communication can support it.
If your organization’s focus is revenue growth, how can IC drive that? If improving quality is a priority, what can IC do to raise standards? If cost efficiency is the goal, how can IC control spend?
These are real business outcomes that IC teams can (and should) support — from furnishing sales people with product knowledge, to supporting an acquisition through effective change communication, to increasing storytelling around customer service … and that’s just scratching the surface.
The Right Stuff
What’s interesting here is that none of the above outcomes focus on “stuff” — but there’s a big difference between outputs and outcomes.
In order to shift the dial for your organization, when operating strategically, outcomes will typically go beyond raising awareness and into the realms of kick-starting behavioral change.
So how do we get this right? There are four steps to take to enable your organization to achieve that goal:
- Be specific. The more tightly you can define your audience, the more effective you will be. Think about the outcome you are aiming for and what you need to do to achieve it.
- Work with clarity. What exactly does the communication need to deliver? If you don’t know this, you’ll never land that message.
- Set a target. This is so important because it’s the measurable bit, which will help you track how your communication performs and how successfully — or not — you’ve met that objective.
- Timing is everything. Think about a realistic delivery window based on what you are trying to achieve. For example, changing legacy behavior tends to take longer than raising awareness, so factor this in.
Clear, meaningful communication objectives lay the foundation of strategic internal communication. Now is the time to stop and think about where we can make a real difference.