Just getting started in measuring your internal communications? Here are four quick and easy tips that will save you time and aggravation.
Change takes time. Research does too. So if you want to measure change in morale, shifts in perceptions, or even understanding of strategy, it will take at least a quarter if not six months for (a) employees to change, and (b) you to detect that change. So pay careful attention to your timeline. It should include:
- Four months for messages to circulate and be understood.
- One month to draft a survey, get it approved, assemble your lists, and get senior leadership to send out the cover memo.
- One month to field the survey and analyze the responses.
- One month to prepare a report and discuss it with senior leadership.
The good news is that once you’ve crafted your survey the first time, you can field it again a few months later pretty easily. I recommend quarterly surveys, but very few companies will do them. Every six months is a minimum.
Don’t assume anyone cares—or listens to anything
To be an effective communicator today you need to focus on the recipient of your messages, not on what you’re saying or how you’re saying it. In our divided, polarized society, where most of us are bombarded with thousands of messages a day, what we hear and what we believe is a matter of personal choice and subject to innumerable whims and preferences.
So the first thing you need to do is to find out where and how your internal stakeholders are getting their information, and what sources they trust. Next, you need to establish a baseline of what is an acceptable level of attention and engagement. So if you haven’t done any measurement before, your first research project will be to establish that baseline. See “Six Steps to the Perfect Internal Communications Measurement Program” Step 2 for more on both these projects.
Analyze the data you already have
Assuming you’ve been communicating with your internal stakeholders for a while, go back into your existing data and see which employees responded and what the responded to in the past. What links did they click on in your intranet, what emails did they open? Apply your quality score (see “The Essential Toolkit for Internal Communications Measurement”) to the ones that performed the best and the ones that were total duds. Analyze the content of the duds to figure out what went wrong and delete that content from your repertoire. Analyze the winners and see how you can replicate those successes with other subjects. Adjust your quality score based on what got read and what didn’t.
Don’t forget to consider the context
What shapes employees’ opinions tends to be organizational or systemic changes, e.g., union rules, policy changes, and anything having to do with salary or vacation or health care. If there’s a lot of that kind of change going on, they probably won’t have a lot of bandwidth left over to pay much attention to your strategic priorities. So when you measure their response to your messages, consider what else they might have on their mental plates.