Internal Communications

by Val Lawson

Communications monitoring and review

Communication policies and procedures need regular monitoring and review. In particular, monitoring should take place to ensure that

  • Communicators know their roles
  • Appropriate information is made available and reaches everybody
  • The information is accepted and understood
  • Your communications bring the desired benefits, particularly in the form of better industrial relations
  • Practice matches policy.

The results of any monitoring exercise should be discussed with employee representatives and, where appropriate, recognised trade unions. Where the monitoring process exposes weaknesses, it is essential that remedial action is taken.

Regular monitoring and review also enable an organisation to assess the cost effectiveness of its communications policy. The ideal in terms of time, method or content has to be balanced against what is practicable and economic. The direct costs of communicating have to be balanced against the less easily-measured costs of not doing so.

Monitoring is largely dependent on feedback from employees, through both formal and informal channels. But the effectiveness of communications can also be assessed by indicators of the

  • Extent of employee cooperation
  • Quality of decision making by managers
  • Level of involvement on the part of senior management
  • Absence and labour turnover levels
  • Industrial relations climate.

A full review of communications policy and practice should take place periodically according to the size of the organisation. A communications audit is often a suitable way of carrying it out and can be done ‘in house’ by specially-trained employees and managers working together; a joint working party can be a particularly effective way of carrying out such an audit. Although communications audits are generally more appropriate for larger organisations, even small concerns should review their practices regularly.

How can I assess success?

In other words, how do I know the communication has landed and been assimilated?

The best way to measure success is by monitoring the situation you have tried to tackle with your communications and looking for positive movement. Listening is a good technique. Also, you should build a feedback loop into the cascade process, so you find out what questions have been raised and how people have responded to the message. Remember that communication should be a two-way process in which information flows up the line from employees as well as down from managers, so employees are able to raise any concerns about their jobs or the organisation.