Topic: Best Practices

Author(s), Title and Publication

Powers, V. J. (1996-1997). Benchmarking Study Illustrates How Best-in-Class Achieve Alignment, Communicate Change. Communication World, December/January, 30-33.


The American Productivity & Quality Center conducted this study of internal communication best practices among 50 companies that were believed to be the best in employee communication. Best practice refers to an “edge” an organization has over other organizations; it’s a process that has been perfected and that can serve as a model for others. Surveys were used to identify and subsequently study 10 of the 50 companies that most closely fit the term “best practice.” The researchers then visited each of the companies for one half day. They assessed the use and effectiveness of communication channels, collected and reviewed communication plans and measurements, and interviewed company personnel for four hours.

Four enablers of effective communication were discovered: 1) the crucial roles and responsibilities of top executives, 2) internal communication programs and processes, 3) middle managers and front-line supervisors, and 4) employees. This article focused on the first enabler–top management’s role in creating a “culture of communication.” CEO’s and top executives in best practice organizations helped create this culture by: 1) being visible and championing communication, 2) creating a clear line of sight for employees, 3) empowering managers and supervisors to make decisions to achieve objectives, 4) providing communication content that includes context and rationale for change, and 5) using face-to-face communication most often, but especially for change and personal communications.

Implications for Practice

Communicators in best practice organizations seem good at providing both content and context in communication programs to enrich culture. They also use attitude surveys, focus groups, and behavioral indicators to assess progress and results. Practitioners can help arm front-line managers with information content and with listening and communication skills to help their employees link their work with the goals of the company.

Location of Article

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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