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I recently had a great conversation with Dan St. Louis of SocialChorus, a growing global workforce communications platform. We talked about the challenges his team experienced working with organizations and communication professionals considering adopting new technologies and launching internal apps.

He had recently polled his sales team, a group that meets with potential clients around the world, and realized that there were some common themes that came up again and again. Often these themes had more to do with foundational skills and planning versus intent to launch a new vehicle.

Our Inner Strength Communication team was seeing similar challenges and, from our perspective, opportunities for those leading internal communication to step up.

Take a look and see if any of them resonate with you.

1. No clear technology strategy

Although organizations had a lot of tools, they were unsure when to use them. In our work, we’re hearing three key themes.

a) Communicators simply send messages through multiple vehicles – email, intranet, face-to-face meetings - creating incredible amounts of noise

b) Flip-the-switch Microsoft 365 implementations where Yammer, Group Sites, Team Sites and SharePoint have been turned on and poorly adopted

c) Multiple teams and tools – HR, Marketing, IT, Regional Teams being asked to launch a social networking solution or purchasing programs without including the Communication Team in the process.

There is a real opportunity for internal communication to lead a conversation on integrated tools that communicate with employees. This also provides a platform to build partnerships with other teams within the organization.

2. No clear understanding of audiences and value propositions for each audience

One of the key areas we insist on in the strategic process is the audience analysis. The right message, to the right audience, at the right time can be powerful. The truth is that many communication professionals are communicating one-size-fits-all messages to everyone. The challenge? Messages are watered down versus specific to drive action. By communicating irrelevant content, we teach employees and leaders that communication simply doesn’t matter. We tell them we’re simply checking a box instead of having impact on the business.

Yes, sending one message is easier; but, isn’t it more important to be effective? As we move into mobile technologies that meet people where they are, with the information they need, we need to have a stakeholder strategy.

3. No clear international strategy

Organizations are growing faster globally than ever before. It used to be that small businesses started by serving the local market, spent several years growing brick and mortar businesses and once they had success, started international expansion. Those rules simply don’t apply any more. Organizations can have the intent and ability to be global from day one. Once they have a proven solution, they need to be quick to get into market before they are copied, and they expand through virtual sales teams, online marketing, and global partnerships.

They still; however, want to provide a consistent customer experience and aspire to a global reputation.

This consistency in brand, service, performance and experience doesn’t happen by accident. Organizations need to provide orientation, training, and timely communication to drive actions and behaviours through their global teams.

Although employee engagement apps are a tool that can help you gain access to people where they are in the language in which they prefer to work, a foundational strategy is needed to act globally and delivery locally.

4. No understanding of analytics or KPIs for success

For years, we’ve been talking about the importance of measurement to drive respect and understanding of internal communication. Every platform that is being built for the employee audience promotes its ability to measure the effectiveness of communication. The challenge? Communication professionals who don’t understand how to interpret and communicate the numbers and those who simply don’t want to, because they are afraid that the numbers will expose a lack of effectiveness.

I’ve said over and over again that internal communication professionals must have the courage to measure what works and what doesn’t, and proactively use that data to create relevant and meaningful programs that do have an impact. There is nothing wrong with saying that you are ready to be vulnerable in order to drive what’s best for the business, and stop spending time and money on tools and activity that don’t matter.

5. No alignment of internal communication with broader business value

Internal Communication simply can’t exist in a vacuum to prove its worth; yet, in many organizations, it does. We’re seeing internal communication that tells stories without purpose; employee campaigns delivered without measurable goals or results; and many tactical tools launched without an adoption plan that no one uses or understands.

In order to gain the respect that so many practitioners crave, internal communication must understand the business strategy, leadership personalities and organizational culture to use its expertise to drive measurable results. This is where internal communication has the power to enable, engage and empower people.

6. No BYOD policy

One of the first questions we ask when clients are exploring employee app solutions is, “Do you have Bring Your Own Device and Social Media Policies?” It’s no longer a surprise when many of them say, “No.” These policies are good foundational tools that serve to both educate employees and protect the organization on expectations around social media and using devices outside of the workplace. They are an important first step to readiness around App deployment.

7. No understanding of how to communicate in the social era

In many cases, employee applications require communication professionals and leaders to let go of control. The reality is that employees will read information from executives and teams that have expertise. Sharing ownership also allows for fresh content to be shared on a regular basis to keep employees coming back from more. This is no longer the static intranet page that employees are forced to visit. The content must to current, robust and relatable. Corporate speak on an employee app is sure to result in its failure.

That’s why communication professionals and anyone gaining access to post on the tool must learn how to communicate effectively on Social Media. The simple rule? What works on the outside to drive traffic and make a post viral is largely the same on the inside. Headlines, images, conversational copy, along with a video is what encourages open rates. And if the content is good, people may go to more detailed information later.

8. No training to teach managers, leaders, subject-matter experts how to be effective communicators

Most organizations forget to provide communication training. All leaders and employees should receive an orientation and training that talks to an organization’s mission. vision, strategy and values and more importantly, how to bring these imperatives to life through every day communication interactions – words and actions. Some basic training in communication will go a long way to create the consistency often connected with brand, reputation, customer experience and trust.

I had said last year that 2018 would be the year of the Employee App, and the truth is that the internal app market has grown by leaps and bounds, but we’re still seeing it used in early adopter/leadership spaces.

Companies who have taken the early plunge to great success did so because they needed to connect with a growing mobile and dispersed workforce; they needed to be better at targeting their communication to relevant audiences; and they wanted to hold themselves accountable and measure results.

If you’re starting the employee app conversation or have already have a social tool like Yammer that is underutilized, let us help. Whether it’s making the case for internal communication technologies or managing adoption and governance successfully, once a decision has been made, Inner Strength partners with companies like SocialChorus to ensure your organization’s tech investment is successful. We know that tools and technology require support, launch, adoption and maintenance plans in order to be seen as successful.

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