In the United States, the internal communications manager position is a very well known position in the organization and is manned while the company is still just starting up, even before recruitment, training and welfare directors. This is a very important position that regards several fields in the organization. In today’s fast-moving working environment, both employees and management alike, demand quick and immediate solutions, therefore it has become a necessary job for every organization.
So what is an internal communications manager, really? Well, you can use an officer watching and monitoring traffic as a metaphor. The officer knows how to create new roads when needed, direct traffic to different lanes during rush hour and can completely stop it in times of crisis. The internal communication manager does the same with organizational communication and can also say which issues need immediate response and which can be delayed. In this article, we’ll look into the roles that the internal communications manager plays when first receiving the position, and later on as a daily routine.
Upon receiving the position:
1. Mapping All Communication
The first order of business after receiving this position is creating a full map of all organizational communication and mediate it to management. In order to do that, you must go through all daily communication channels of employees, management and departments to figure out which information flows through those channels, how important is it, how many times a day is this channel used and which employees does this information reach. Do those channels have a backup plan? Which formats do they use (phones, emails, documents etc.) and more.
2. Communications Channels Optimization
After creating the organizational communication map, it’s easier to identify problems, bottlenecks and over-used channels. At this stage, plans must be made to offer alternatives and solutions, specify the schedule, the new procedures that need to be implemented and state which new communication platforms are needed.
3. Backup Plan For The Communication Channels
Where should the traffic move to when a specific channel is blocked or too crowded? For example, let’s say a bid was received and it must be signed, but the person who signs these documents is often abroad or cannot be reached. Who provides a backup in this case? What is the alternative in case of a blocked or overcrowded channel, and where do we direct the traffic away from it?
4. Plans For Emergency Communication
An organization rises and falls by its conduct during emergencies. A difficult event such as theft, sexual harassment, or an unflattering piece in the local news, can create a major crisis. It’s important to create an emergency plan, containing information and clear procedures in these situations. How does the organization want to handle this crisis? Which channels will be used to convey information and updates? All these things must be clear and pre-defined.
5. Using Tech Tools To Support The Internal Communication
In this stage, we should map all the tech tools that the organization uses. Are they active and used properly? Do we need to purchase new systems? Without the right toolbox and the relevant communication platforms, it will be very hard to get any work done. How do you communicate with the employees that don’t work in front of a computer? How do you reach the employees who don’t use the organization’s email network? If the answer remains bulletin boards, SMS, phones and faxes – your hands are tied.
6. Internal Communication Supportive Procedures
Procedures help execute the internal communications manager’s plans. Who should we report to in case of theft? Where can one file a sexual harassment complaint? It’s important to set clear procedures for these kinds of events. A channel explaining exactly how to report an incident is crucial. If no such procedures exist, it’s best to create them and make sure all the employees become familiar with them.
7. Employee Engagement
One of the most important roles the internal communication manager has is engaging the employees with the organization’s values, essence, goals and its management, making the employees feel like they belong. Let’s say, for example, that an employee is at home with his family after work, and turns on the TV, just to suddenly see a new commercial for the organization that he had no clue was even in the works – now he’s just as surprised and embarrassed when his family asks him questions, he is just like the rest of the viewers as he’s watching it for the first time. This kind of situation might cause employees to feel less engaged with the organization. Take another example: If the employee of the month was announced but their teammates didn’t even hear about it, the entire point was completely missed.
The Daily Routine:
1. Living, Breathing And adjusting To The Organization
In order to make the right decisions and adjustments while on-the-go, one has to know the organization through and through. You need to be on top of all changes that are happening in the company and you must follow up on them accordingly. For example, we see that everyone has a mobile phone so now it’s clear that using faxes is really no longer an option and it’s time for an upgrade, with an employee app. Another branch opened in a different location? Rounding up all the employees in the dining hall is probably no longer efficient and a new way to communicate must be found.
2. Taking Part
The internal communication manager needs to be connected to the organization at any given moment. That means being in every manager meeting, help to promote different processes in the organization such as re-branding or acquisitions and knowing which changes are needed in order to reach every single employee. In other words, no organizational decisions can be made without the internal communication manager’s knowledge.
3. Emergency Response
The CEO was fired, an unflattering news piece aired or any event that can undermine the organization, needs to be treated with a clear and appropriate response from the internal communication manager, who’s job is to support the emergency procedures and make sure the decisions made, reach all the employees.
4. Looking For Communication Slips and Failures
A disgruntled employee with a broken computer, says it takes him 5 times longer to do the work? Apparently, there is a communication failure somewhere in the complaints channel.
It’s the internal communication manager’s job to identify the slip and the number of channels the employee has to go through to produce a quick singular communication channel in order to fix the problem directly.
How Do We Know If The Internal Communication Manager Did A Good Job?
1. From The CEO’s Point Of View
In case of an emergency, can all employees be reached immediately? Did instructions and decisions made by management make it all the way to the entire staff without getting stuck on the way? Is everything measurable and you can tell who received the information and who didn’t? If the answer to these questions is yes, the internal communication manager did its job properly.
2. From The Management’s Point Of View
Management needs to know it can easily reach all the employees to convey guidelines and measure them. If the HR manager can reach the employees quickly and easily, it means the internal communication manager created efficient channels. For example: If you’re giving out holiday gifts and the employees need to choose between several options. How simple is it to get to them and make a decision based on their preferences?
3. From The Employee’s Point Of View
It’s important to create channels that provide quick solutions to all the service givers in the organization (welfare, HR, the department in charge of company cars and so on). The employees need to feel like the organization provides them a communicational service, just like the one they get from their cable, internet or cell phone provider, for instance. All the information the employee needs should be accessible and answers to questions should be received quickly and efficiently.
4. From The HR’s Point Of View
Employees should be more engaged with the organization and its goals. The HR department can display the work it does to the employees in relevant channels. It can be pictures from the organization team building day, a nice bonus or a perk they managed to secure for the employees or even publishing the names of the best employees of the month.
5. From The Marketing Department’s Point Of View
Are the employees engaged with the marketing plans? Was there sharing and brainstorming about marketing ideas? All of these can create an even bigger engagement rate between the employees and the organization, and contribute to the joint efforts of the organization as a whole.
The internal communication manager needs to be the thread connecting all the different parts of the organization. The manager needs to examine the current communication state and understand how it can be improved or upgraded, by understanding the possible channels of communication, creating comfortable platforms for crisis management and making sure the communication conditions are optimal, both in the technical and the procedural fields. A good internal communication manager will also increase the employees’ engagement to the organization as a whole. One of the tools that can ease this process is an employee app, which will keep the organization’s information, manage groups automatically, create separate focused channels and make the entire organizational communication more efficient.
Read more about internal communication apps here: How to Choose an Internal Communications App for Your Business.