Internal communication audit in 8 steps
Remote or hybrid work – this is the reality of many companies. Teams are still scattered around their hometowns and face-to-face communication is limited. Internal communication in organizations has changed – it has different challenges and channels. Therefore, it is worth considering whether examining its quality is a good strategy. An internal communication audit should help.
What is an internal communication audit?
Internal communication audit is aimed at assessing the quality of internal communication, identifying its strengths and weaknesses. Its effect should be recommendations for further communication actions or a remedial program. Let us briefly discuss all steps of a communication audit!
Step 1. Audit’s purpose
If you choose to improve internal communication as an audit goal, you may end up not achieving it in the end. Why? We cannot measure it and it can be understood in many ways. For some, the improvement of communication means an increase in the CTR of the newsletter by 10%, for others, the creation and application of communication procedures.
Therefore, when setting your goal, use the S.M.A.R.T. method. According to this concept, each goal should be:
- Specific – as unambiguous as possible, not leaving a wide field for free interpretation.
- Measurable – a goal for which we are able to select countable units of quality.
- Achievable – possible to achieve in a specific time period.
- Relevant – significant, resulting from a specific need and striving for a specific solution.
- Time-bound – included in the time frames it is to be executed.
Example of the S.M.A.R.T. goal: increasing employee involvement in internal communication by 10% by the end of 2022.
- S – we measure one type of communication.
- M – we set a numerical goal; we will count the weighted average of clicks on internal materials, e.g. the number of newsletter openings.
- A – it is the growth to be achieved within the mentioned time frames.
- R – resulting from the problem of the employees’ lack of involvement in the company’s life, resulting in the lack of identification with the company.
- T – the term is clearly defined.
Step 2. Communication improvement
We won’t ask who communicates in your company, because we know the answer – everyone. But how to divide our “everyone” into groups? Whose communication is the most important – from the point of view of EB and business? How about the feedback?
Start with the division of all positions. It will strongly clarify your communication groups. Within them, you can also make further divisions (but not too many). During this preliminary analysis, you will also most likely find out which of these groups can provide you with valuable source material. Or get involved in an internal communication audit in terms of organization or image (ambassadors).
Step 3. Desk research
Browse through the variety of communication materials that have appeared in your company so far. Don’t focus on one sender and one communication tool. Diversity matters more than quantity. For example, a SWOT analysis can be used to draw conclusions.
Step 4. Quantitative research
Depending on the budget, size and maturity of the organization, you can implement them in various ways. Most often, however, surveys are used. They should be differentiated at the level of position held by the respondents. Remember that such a survey can be considered a “distraction”. Therefore, it should be preceded by a communication campaign showing its benefits. Secondly, limit the length of the survey and the number of open questions to be as simple as possible to complete.
Step 5. Qualitative research
At this stage, you certainly have a better overview of the company’s communication needs and problems. Select a few people now and talk to them about how they perceive the quality of communication in the organization. Depending on your resources, you can conduct in-depth interviews (the most tangible) or simple conversations aimed at getting valuable feedback.
Step 6. Analysis and conclusions
Now that you have quite a lot of material at your disposal, it’s time to analyze it. Conduct it in the context of the goal you set at the beginning. If you get valuable data for other areas, great, but save it for later.
Analyzing the audit results and creating an action plan will require effort and objectivity from you. After all, you are also one of the recipients and/or senders of communication! Therefore, do not get discouraged, but consider whether you can ask for help from someone outside. Someone who is ready to dive into the situation in the company and still remain impartial.
Step 7. Action plan
Based on the analysis, develop an action plan that will help you achieve the goal set at the beginning. The plan, as well as the goal, should be S.M.A.R.T. and focus hard on “A” (achievable). All this so that the audit, to which you devoted so much energy, can work in practice.
Step 8. Implementation of the action plan
At this stage, you are holding an internal communication audit report in your hand. It’s time to implement it! Where to start? Which strategy is better: start with the simplest or the key one? You need to answer this question in the context of your company’s current communication needs. However, we do have an advice – do it gradually. Fighting with habits is not easy, but the effects are worth it!
Internal communication audit: repeat, but…
…start with your current goal. Examine the changes after the plan implementation, so focus on steps 4 and 5 (quantitative and qualitative research). It’s good? Congratulations!
Now it’s time for a new goal. Because internal communication is a dynamic process.