Internal Communication: 12 Essential Elements

There are 12 essential elements of a successful internal communications strategy:

1. Effective employee-directed communications must be led from the top

Effective communications require the active commitment and approvals of senior managers. It is not enough simply to develop a 'vision statement' or formulate in general terms the values ​​by which the company lives. Behavior is what counts. Managers must be seen to be in a manner that is consistent with the ethos they are promoting.

2. The essence of good communications is consistency

At all costs, avoid following fashion and tinkering. If you try to improve communications and then fail – because your messages are inconsistent or are 'good news only' – things will not quietly settle back into the way they used to be. You will inevitably have created expectations, and may have to live with the consequences of having deserved those expectations.

3. Successful employee communications owe as much to consistency, careful planning and attention to detail as they do to charisma or natural gifts

We may not all be another Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins or Bill Clinton. But even such communication 'giants' slip up if they fail to plan, fail to pay attention to detail and fail to project a consistent message.

4. Communication via the line manager is most effective

'Line Manager to employee' communication is an opportunity for people to ask questions and check that they have understood the issues correctly. However, be aware that business urgency and reality may dictate the need, on many occasions, to inform employees directly rather than relying entirely on the cascade process. (Although managers will still need to answer people's questions and listen to their views.)

5. Employee communications are not optional extras, they are part of business as usual and should be planned and budgeted for as such

An employee communications plan – key themes, objectives, objectives and resources – provides a context in which to deliver initiatives that arise at short notice.

6. There must be integration between internal and external communications

There must be a fit between what you are telling your people and what you are telling your customers, shareholders and public. (By the same token, there must be a fit between what you are telling your people, and what the external media are telling them.)

7. Timing is critical

However clearly expressed and well-presented your message may be, if it arrives at the wrong time you might as well not have bothered. Old news is often worse than no news. Consequently, it is important to ensure that the channels you use can really deliver at the time you need them to.

8. Tone is important

Expressing overly-gushing enthusiasm about a technical change of little real significance to your staff or public at large is scarcely calculated to make people take your message to heart. If they do not take that message to heart, why would they take their rest of what you say to their bosoms?

9. Never lose sight of the 'what's