In times of crisis your internal communication is as crucial as your external communication is. However, the first one is often neglected or not focused on. This article provides guidance and insights on how to develop a clear, consistent and effective communication towards your internal stakeholders.
The global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is turning every aspect of our life upside down. As concerns grip the world, organizations are struggling to understand what to do now. Amidst times of uncertainty it is imperative to have clear lines of communication established with employees, customers, and partners.
The guiding principle in communication is to actively listen and understand what your stakeholders need from you. We often tend to put our customers and partners first and address their needs as it is crucial for business success. However, now is the time to shift the focus toward the needs of your employees by establishing a clear, consistent and continuous internal communication.
1. Create a central communication taskforce
Set up a central team consisting of members of the top management, internal communications, marketing, HR and IT. Ensure that communication content and frequency is continuously aligned and managed by this team only, to avoid mixed messages.
2. Develop internal and external communication plans
Develop internal and external communication plans outlining all your communication activities, communication channels, timing and stakeholder groups. Outline dependencies in communication activities and ensure that your external and internal communication content is clear, genuine and does not contradict itself. Your efforts must resonate with your stakeholders
3. Provide dedicated internal communication channels
Employees will be inevitably discussing your organization’s response to the current situation. Providing an internal channel to express questions or fears directly is also an opportunity for your organization to ensure an appropriate response.
- Understand employee needs through dedicated sentiment analysis
- Set up dedicated communication channels, e.g. MS Teams, Yammer, Jam, anonymous Q&A box, dedicated intranet page with links to helpful sources also outside the organization
- Provide nudges to reinforce healthy employee behavior
4. Empower your management
Set up regular sessions with your management to explain how your organization is responding to the economical and societal changes and how they can support by carrying a consistent message to their teams. Provide them with tools, guidelines and consistent information to act as motivators and supporters.
5. Provide frequent top leadership communication
Active and visible leadership is always of utmost importance, but right now more than ever. Address employees on a weekly basis with video messages and intranet posts. React to questions and feedback from employees quickly and candidly. Even if you do not have all the answers right now, your employees need to know that their concerns are being taken seriously.
6. Measure your communication effectiveness
Even if you perform all above mentioned activities, it is not guaranteed that your communication efforts really meet the demands and requirements of your workforce. Therefore, it is imperative to listen closely to the feedback given by your employees and even better to measure the effectiveness of your communication. A good example of a tool that supports measuring communication effectiveness via sentiment analysis is PulseShift™, provided by CAMELOT Management Consultants. Click here to learn more about PulseShift™.
Setting up your internal communication with these recommendations in mind will help your organization to proactively manage employee needs. As the crisis presents ever new challenges, the nature of your internal communication might change. Therefore, it is important to carefully monitor the recommended actions and adjust them to remain relevant for your employees.