It’s often said that what gets measured gets done. Although it may feel overwhelming or even impossible to measure the value of something as intangible as communication, the fact is there are definitive metrics by which you can measure success.
And the reward of understanding the impact of any strategic internal messaging plan is well worth the effort! Measurement helps create credibility for communication among an organization’s employees and its leaders, and it ensures that communication has a place at the table in any strategic business discussion. The key to successfully measuring communication is to focus metrics on the outcome (the action you seek), not the output (how you communicate). Since the goal of internal communication is to drive action and behaviors, it’s not enough to know that a message was distributed to employees. Rather, measurement needs to focus on whether the message was received, heard, and acted upon.
Core Principles for Communication Measurement
Measurement doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming, or expensive. But it is important to remember that when measuring the impact and effectiveness of communication, both qualitative and quantitative results are ideal.
One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.
- Grace Murray Hopper, Computer Pioneer
We’ve defined the guiding principles for measurement as:
- Keep strategies simple and doable (or they won’t get done)
- Use measurement strategies that already work for the organization
- Use measurement strategies that can live on after the initial metrics are complete
- Ensure senior management will champion strategies
- Ensure staff who participate in the evaluation process feel comfortable being candid, see the results, and have the tools to apply the feedback and/or results
5 Effective Communication Measurement Techniques
Use these proven techniques to measure internal communications within your organization.
1. Build communication metrics into existing measurement vehicles
This enables you to connect to specific business and performance metrics, which helps drive accountability. For example, if your organization conducts an annual employee commitment survey, consider integrating a section (or at least several questions) about internal communication or specific tactics. Better yet, conduct a Communications Climate Index™ (an assessment that measures the specific cause-and-effect relationships affecting performance and engagement) to gauge your organization’s health in relation to critical internal communication drivers.
2. Gather insights through existing business metrics
Pinpoint the level of employee understanding and action around key organizational priorities. How? Connect existing metrics to the outcomes you seek to accomplish through communication and establish a correlation to overall business results.
3. Conduct a pulse survey
Identify a representative sample of your target audience and reach out to them for feedback on communications directed at them. Ask the survey participants a few questions to get a “pulse” for the impact of a communication. This can be done via conference call, email, or an Intranet posting.
4. Create a focus group
Gather employees to participate in an interactive discussion in which you ask specific questions about communication tactics. This can be done informally or in a more formal setting, depending on your organization’s culture.
5. Form an informal employee advisory board
Want to know how employees really feel about existing and new communication plans and strategies? Ask them. Appoint a group of employees who can offer regular feedback and who can help measure success.
Communication Measurement Red Flags
Even with the best of intentions, it’s imperative that communicators stay aware of the communication mistakes that can negatively impact these efforts and, worse, the employees themselves. Be aware of these common traps.
Over-Surveyed EmployeesMeasuring the impact of communication isn’t always enough. Employees can come to feel “over-surveyed,” and because they aren’t always conscious or cognizant of results or action, the response rate and nature can be inaccurate. Use high-level assessment to measure where you and your employees are in relation to goals and strategies and use the information to take action and drive results.
Unaccountable LeadersAt the end of the day, most people only do what they are accountable for because their reputations and/or jobs are on the line. Leaders need to know the importance of their roles as leader communicators and be held accountable. Ideally, communication should be a part of a leader’s individual performance metrics so that communication is incorporated as a natural part of the organization and progress can be tracked.
Doing Nothing with ResultsWhy ask for feedback, gather employees, conduct surveys, and more if nothing is going to be done with the results? When leaders fail to act on valuable information that could help advance their goals, they not only squander an opportunity, but they also hurt their credibility and break down hard-won employee trust.
It All Comes Back to the Bottom Line
Whether you are just beginning to think about the importance of internal communication, you are in the midst of an existing plan, or you’re measuring the success of your overall strategy, remember that this is all about the bottom line.
At its core, communication is an instrument of strategy as well as a strategy in itself. It’s an instrument of strategy because it helps you share your mission, vision, and values with employees. It’s a strategy because it will help you achieve specific goals. It creates a sense of community and trust with employees, creating a line of sight for them, and engaging them to make the business successful.
What measures can you put in place today that will help you and your organization gauge communication success?
If you're looking to assess and measure the effectiveness of communications within your organization, we can help. Click below to contact us today!