Do you have a vision for Internal Communication in your organisation?

Do you need one? A client asked me to review their Internal Communication vision this week and make recommendations on how to improve it. I’ve written and reviewed countless strategies and internal comms plans over the years, but there’s not always an IC vision in those documents.

It got me thinking…

Should it be a standard thing we do? Should we set a vision for internal communication and if so, what should it include, how long should it be and how often should it be reviewed? If you have an IC vision, should it be part of the Comms strategy or sit above it?

Tip: You need to decide whether you need a vision for the IC team, or for the organisation’s internal communication (or both).

This doesn’t replace your company’s vision, but outlines what good looks like for internal communication inside your organisation.

What do you think? I’d love to know your views, do comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

Having realised there’s not an article on my blog to help other Comms pros write theirs, I decided to ask if it would be helpful. Following a short poll on Twitter, feedback from the Comms community revealed it would be helpful, so I’ve written this article in response to that poll.

By the end of this article you’ll be able to create your own vision or run your existing one through the advice and guidance here and spot areas for improvement.

Let’s start at the beginning…

Why do you need a vision for Internal Communication?

I recommend having a vision for Internal Communication (as in the communication inside an organisation) to help you determine what good looks like and to hold yourselves to account.

Note I’ve written it in the singular form. That’s because I denote the difference as:

  • Internal Communication = the overarching view of how a company communicates
  • Internal Communications = typically these are the details e.g. tactics and channels under the direction of an IC team.

You can include the vision in your Comms strategy, but if it’s for Internal Communication as a whole, you need to make sure it’s known outside of your team.

Why would an IC team need a vision?

I run a lot of bespoke training sessions and VIP Days with IC teams and host confidential Masterclasses at least once a week at my training venue in London. The photograph on this page shows a session I ran for a Police force last week.

I love these Masterclasses and working alongside in-house IC pros to help them analyse the work they’re doing.

I seek consistency, clarity and certainty from them in areas such as:

  • How they talk about internal comms in their organisation
  • How they measure IC
  • What’s in their IC strategy
  • What their stakeholders think about internal comms
  • How their IC strategy aligns with their business strategy.

When it comes to having a vision, I regularly have this discussion when talking about personal branding – who you are and what you’re known for.

I often create visions with a team, but typically call it Communication Principles. I think of it as the blueprint for the team. It’s not just their reputation and promise as practitioners and as a team, but an aspirational positioning statement they can measure themselves against.

Another way to think of it is “this is what we expect from the company in terms of communication, and this is what you can expect from us as a team.”

I recommend creating a vision if you’re a new team, have new team members or need a refresher.

Tip: Involve everyone in the IC team in creating the vision. Everyone needs to know it and understand it so they can act on it.

Further reading via the All Things IC blog:

Why would a business need an IC vision?

Organisations typically have a lot of feedback indicating internal communication needs to be improved. This ranges from anecdotal feedback in exit interviews, to formalised comments in employee surveys and questions via line managers.

Creating a vision for the way an organisation communicates can be helpful to provide a check and balance against which to measure the efforts of your people. It’s also useful if you are part of recognition schemes such as Investors in People or Best Companies.

What makes a good vision?

Like any other vision, it needs to be aspirational – this is how we would like the organisation to communicate in the future.

Then the supporting statements around it and detail in your IC strategy help you realise, work towards and measure that ambition.

Questions to ask yourself: What are we aiming for? What does good look like for our company?

Tip: If you find it hard to answer that, I often flip it: What does bad look like for our company? What do we need to avoid?

I’ve outlined more questions to ask yourself below.

Who is responsible for Internal Communication?

Regular readers of my blog will know I think IC is too important to be left to one team, one department or one person. It is everyone’s responsibility in an organisation.

When it comes to setting a vision, I regularly see a blurring of lines because it’s not clear who the vision is aimed at.

The way to avoid is by deciding whether this is a vision for the IC team or for the organisation’s internal communication or both.

There is a difference between them and you need to know that before you start creating a vision.

What does an IC vision look like?

Here’s an example of an IC vision. It’s in the UK Government’s Standard Operating Model.

It says: “Professional communicators, internal communications practitioners are trusted advisors working in partnership with leaders to engage staff in delivering the Government’s and departmental priorities and supporting organisational and cultural change.”

Could something similar work for your organisation?

Questions to ask yourself when writing an IC vision for an organisation:

  • What are we aiming for now and in the future in terms of the way we communicate internally?
  • What does good look like?
  • What does great look like?
  • What are the current issues we need to overcome? (your employee survey feedback will help with this)
  • Why is internal communication important for our organisation?
  • How does focusing on the way we communicate help the company? What outcomes are we trying to achieve?
  • What is the role of employees and leaders in helping the company communicate?

Questions to ask yourself when writing an IC vision for an Internal Comms team:

  • What are we aiming for now and in the future in terms of internal communication?
  • What does good look like?
  • What does great look like?
  • What’s the desired outcome from the work we do?
  • What sort of work do we do as an IC team?
  • How does the work of the IC team align with the business strategy?
  • What role does the IC team play?
  • What role do we need to play?
  • How will we know if we’ve achieved this? What’s the evidence/proof points?

Here are some examples of IC visions…

Could one of these work for your organisation? What’s yours like? Do let me know.

I asked Advita Patel, (pictured), Communications Consultant and Chair of CIPR Inside for her thoughts. She told me: “Having a vision for your IC team can help guide and inspire your team to understand where you want to be in the future.

“It should give people a sense of direction, push their boundaries and stretch their comfort zones. Without a vision you’re almost working blindly and it can be a challenge to figure out whether the team are aligned to overall purpose.”

So, over to you

Are you going to use this article to create a vision for your organisation and/or IC team? Are you going to run an existing one through this article to spot any areas for improvement?

I’d love to see your vision, feel free to comment below and share it with me. You can also find me on Twitter @AllthingsIC. 

Thank you Leah Bowden for sharing yours with me:

Come and learn with All Things IC

Would you like to learn more about the wonderful world of internal comms? Come and join me for an All Things IC Masterclass. I teach them in London every month and there’s a variety of topics to choose from.

If you’re new to IC or need a booster or refresher, my upcoming Internal Communication Masterclass on 22 May 2019 is for you. Your investment is £599+VAT and you’ll be in a small group.

Upcoming Masterclasses include:

 

I’m launching Online Masterclasses later this year, add your name to the wait list to find out about them first.

Sign up to join me at The Water Cooler

Did you know I publish a newsletter every month? The Water Cooler hits inboxes in the first week of the month and includes the latest blog posts, ideas, courses and exclusive offers. Add your name to receive it each month and keep up-to-date.

Thank you for stopping by,

Rachel

Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 12 April 2019.

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