I firmly believe that leaders are always communicating, whether they intend to or not. And just like a leader sends a message by communicating – or not – an organization shows its commitment to communication whether it intends to or not.
That’s why, when clients come to us for help on improving communication, we start by taking the organization’s temperature. That means evaluating some big-picture indicators of its commitment to the practice and value of communication.
Here are some elements of our internal and leadership communications “temperature check” that highlight an organization’s level of commitment to communication. We typically rank these on a continuum (from weakest to strongest, lowest to highest, etc.) to highlight the areas of greatest opportunity:
Senior management support – Like aspects of an organization, communication is more likely to be effective and impactful when leaders are supportive and engaged. Where would you characterize this area, from weak to strong, in your organization?
Management accountability – In most organizations, something that is required is more likely to be accomplished. Communication is no exception. Do you observe weak or strong accountability for communication in your organization?
Management trained in communication skills – Leaders who are trained to communicate effectively set the expectation and tone for the organization. Would you characterize this area as weak or strong among your leaders?
Strategic approach to communications – An organization that fully benefits from communications is one in which the communications function is strategically aligned with business objectives. Where on the spectrum from weak to strong do you see the level of strategic communications?
Management’s perception of the value of internal communications – This critical issue speaks to how leaders engage with communicators and their level of confidence in communication as a business-critical function. Would your leaders characterize the value of communications as low or high?
Maturity of internal communications function – Though tenure is not essential to achieving maturity in an internal communications function, we often see greater understanding and impact of internal communications when it is well-established over time. Where is your internal communications function on the maturity spectrum, between early and mature?
Effectiveness of internal communications processes – How well do leaders and managers in the organization understand and follow processes for internal communication and how would you characterize their effectiveness on the scale of low to high?
Use of consistent tools and resources – Consistency and repetition are key to achieving real impact in internal communications, particularly when you are reinforcing key messages or seeking to support change. Do you see tools and resources used consistently in your organization?
Internal client satisfaction – Often directly related to the value placed on communication, internal client satisfaction is a critical indicator of the health and effectiveness of your communications function. Where would you characterize this between low and high?
Resource allocation – The level of resources assigned to any department highlights the value the organization places on its work and increases its potential impact. Where does communication stand in your organization on the scale of having insufficient to sufficient resources?
Ongoing measurement – The adage “what gets measured gets done” is certainly true in communications, though this is most often seen in more advanced internal communications functions. Do you see your level of measurement as insufficient, or sufficient?
What can you learn – and what action can you take – by better understanding your organization’s temperature for communication?
- David Grossman
Read the next post in this two part series here.