Internal Communications can be defined in a number of ways; but the primary objective of the function should be to share your organisational narrative with employees, and facilitate and encourage conversation about direction and future.
A culture of high engagement is best achieved when you create a sense of unity within a business. If you look at organisations that drive high engagement, many will have been built upon entrepreneurial roots. The advantage from building a business is that employees become passionate about the business they work for, and want to feed into the future.
With the explosion of social media there are now more options to share your organisational narrative. Sharing your story is a vital driver behind engagement: it is important that you keep a constant news flow of information that reinforces direction.
So what is your organisational narrative and what is the best ways to share it? These four pointers are based on the approach that I use.
Translate values into ‘instincts’
Organisational values and behaviours are the definition to ‘how we do things’ in every business. They define your culture; and they are indicative of your direction. The issues many organisations have are that ‘values’ can be fairly generic; they tend to be similar in most businesses. That can make it more of a challenge in defining identity and using values to drive engagement. One method you can use to make your values a more relevant tool in telling your story is to translate them into ‘instincts’. Rather than ‘Innovation’ being the driver make your narrative more specific to your business and culture; for example ‘We generate new ideas every day’.
Adapting your language to make your values unique gives you more scope to sell in your organisational narrative through your behavioural framework.
Give your Leaders a ‘voice’
In order for your organisational narrative to have credibility it has to be Leadership driven. Regular updates from your top team are a good way to keep your narrative fresh. In the past, events have been the most effective way of delivering Leadership updates. But with the explosion of social media blogging, webcasts, and films are all effective but less time consuming ways for Leaders to interact and engage with employees. A twitter style blogging tool for Leaders that can be frequently updated is a very effective method to share updates.
Give your employees a ‘voice’
Whilst sharing your narrative is a driver behind engagement, encouraging conversation and feedback is equally important. Building feedback channels into your story telling is vital. Social media again encourages interactivity in a virtual environment. But structured team briefs, regular road-shows and events are all important tools. Discussion on direction at every level in an organisation is a healthy and strong indicator of high engagement. In a hierarchical business, this is harder to achieve, but a strong case can be made for two-way communication based on case studies of organisations in ‘times top100 companies to work for’.
Strategy isn’t just for Leaders
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking strategy is a Leadership term. Sharing your strategy with employees is a critical part of telling your story. An annual strategy road-show can be a powerful tool in setting the scene for the year, sharing objectives and challenges, and setting direction. If employees know what they are working towards, they are more likely to buy into decision making, and to feel a sense of belonging in where the business is heading.
Organisational narrative can be defined as your business story. It is all about the ‘big picture’; ensuring employees understand broadly what it looks like, and where they fit into it. Keeping employees updated with how organisational events link into the bigger picture are all important to driving engagement. All businesses are on a journey, and keeping your narrative fresh will mean you are taking your employees with you.
Where there are gaps in your narrative, employees will fill in the detail. That carries a risk to overall engagement.