I’ve talked a few times in previous blogs (such as this one last month) about the importance of measuring the success of your internal comms. But just how straight-forward is that to do? Measuring how well your sales guys have done against their monthly targets is often a case of relatively simple maths or clever spreadsheets. It’s the same with tracking how many leads your marketing team have brought in, how well your call centre staff performed against their metrics, or even how well your Efficiency Champion is doing in reducing overheads, costs or wastage. For many such targeted roles, there are reports and dashboards that neatly compile everything you need to know in one handy place.
But it’s rarely so for measuring the success of your internal comms. And yet this is just as vital. (The direct correlation between good internal comms and a successful business is well published.) How can you strive to improve your comms if you don’t know where you’re starting from? How can you aim to reach those who are resistant to your messages if you don’t know who those people are? Or, if you do know who they are, do you know why they’re turned off? Because if you don’t, how are you going to try to put that right?
I’m afraid that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this. The truth is: it’s going to depend on your organisation, your business goals and the reasons for and behind your comms. The closest thing I have to a silver bullet is the recommendation to get a comms health check done by an external partner. If done properly, this should cover pretty much everything outlined below, and carries the bonus of being carried out by independent personnel who are perhaps more likely to elicit truly honest responses from those surveyed.
If, however, you are wanting to do the work yourself, you could start by looking at the following areas of your comms:
Inputs: What information, resources and channels are you using to create and relay your comms?
Outputs: Are the comms you send out informative, appropriate, in-line with strategy & on-brand? Have you made every effort to engage all of your people, regardless of role and location?
Reach & Reactions: Were your messages well received? (Or, indeed, received at all?) Were they understood? Did they inform, engage, motivate, empower?
Outcomes: Undoubtedly the most important bit and, arguably, the hardest to accurately measure. Did your comms have the desired impact on your people? Have their knowledge, feelings and/or behaviours changed as desired as a result?
The first three are the easiest to measure and should be the starting point. You could use a Comms Channel Matrix to check that you have your channels set up to reach everyone, including those who work remotely. Reach can be measured by metrics such as subscriber numbers, link clicks or page views. You can start to gauge reactions by, for example, looking at likes, comments and shares generated by your comms. But be warned that that may not be the full or totally accurate picture. To properly look at reactions and to start looking at outcomes, you need to ask your people what they think. Short, carefully constructed “pulse surveys” are invaluable here, as is giving your people every opportunity to feedback through truly interactive meetings (however they are carried out).
If your reach isn’t where it needs to be, or the reactions aren’t what you want or need in certain areas, can you now identify why from your surveys or feedback sessions? Perhaps a certain population within your workforce don’t respond well to information presented to them in reports or written comms. They won’t be alone! According to research, the average viewer retains 95% of a message when they watch it on a video. Shockingly, only 10% is retained when it is read. If this is true for your people, then you know what you need to do!
The real results, the outcomes, should be seen in productivity rates and staff satisfaction and retention.
Once again, you will need to measure your comms in different ways, and using different metrics, depending on the type of organisation you work for and the reason(s) for the comms. Communicating change, for example, will need handling and assessing differently from BAU comms. But they should always be in line with company goals, strategy and culture.
Underestimating the importance of your internal comms can be a fatal error for any business. And so, not measuring the impact and success of your current comms can also be a grave oversight. Just because it can’t be measured purely by looking at a spreadsheet of pounds, pence or percentages doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be assessed at all. The fact of the matter is this: that performance spreadsheet will ultimately look a lot healthier if you get your comms right now.