Issue 80 October, 2019
CEO support fosters great internal comms
Dear <<First Name>>,
You need to bulldoze, guilt, beg and pressure your company’s management (“leadership”) into doing their part for internal communication (IC).
That was a key message from a recent Ragan Communications webinar on “What makes communications great.” The webinar talked about the results of a 2019 survey of internal comms leaders by Simpplr, “a modern intranet that connects employees.”
Sam Keninger, Simpplr’s VP of Marketing & Research, said the survey aimed to get a better understanding of what separates great IC programs from everyone else. The people surveyed included 411 professionals across a variety of industries, from companies of one to more than 10,000 employees.
Simpplr asked IC practitioners to rate the state of their internal comms and the function’s importance within the company. Analysts sliced and diced the results and related the answers to whether leadership understood IC’s importance and supported the team’s efforts.
It turns out, the companies where management clearly saw the importance of internal communication were the ones considered “leaders.” Ones that had weaker executive support were considered “laggards”:
- Leaders agreed or strongly agreed that management understood the importance of internal communication. Laggards were neutral or disagreed/strongly disagreed with that statement.
- Leaders used a variety of channels to communicate with employees: emails, e-newsletters, intranet, digital signage, print posters/signs, social (Slack, Yammer, Facebook), apps and mobile messaging. Videos were a growing and important channel. (“If you aren’t using video yet, start,” Sam advised. “It doesn’t have to be overly produced; using an iPhone is fine.”) Laggards had a higher emphasis on emails, and less involvement in the other channels.
- Leaders used multiple ways to measure IC: employee engagement surveys, intranet analytics, company meeting feedback, email readership statistics, leadership feedback, focus groups and more. Laggards used fewer methods, or didn’t measure their work at all.
- Leaders encountered fewer challenges than laggards, mostly citing too much communication and too many channels. Laggards cited lack of engagement, poor technology, lack of help and low engagement by management. Laggards were also more likely to say their role wasn’t seen as strategic or critical and they had no clear strategy to communicate.
- Leaders were more likely to say employees could easily recite the company’s vision, financial performance, long-term strategy and how their jobs aligned to company goals – an effective way to check the success of your IC. Laggards were more likely to say it would be rare for employees to do so.
“Having management that both understands and cares about internal communications is crucial for establishing strong internal communications,” the report summarized.
So how do you engage your executives? Sam said, “Put yourself in your leader’s shoes. As someone who is the communications arm of corporate priorities and who is privy to what leaders want to get done, you can go to them and say, ‘We need to focus on employee communication; it will help us drive corporate priority X or Y.’ Market your function and its purpose.”
He added, “The beauty is that employee communication can help with every corporate initiative.”
What’s your experience with CEO support of internal communication? Do hit reply and let me know.
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