Corporate communications writer specializing in employee engagement, health & wellness, emergency preparedness, change management and technology.

When Internal Communications Go Wrong

Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in EmployComm, homepage | 0 comments

You know when a communication goes wrong. The phone starts ringing with employees angry and upset. You receive negative emails and feedback. You’re scrambling to rewrite a new communication to correct the error. The result of one badly constructed email can created confused, misinformed and disgruntled employees and of course impacts employee engagement big time.

I believe ten times out of ten the reason any communication goes wrong is because a proper foundation was never laid.

Here’s five tips for creating internal communications that achieve stellar results:


1) Be Strategic.

Most corporate communications are time critical. However, it serves no one to rush out a communication before it’s gone through the proper approval and review process. An email that doesn’t provide an engaging subject line, clear information and a call to action will languish in employees’ in boxes. Mistakes will require additional work in the long run to correct the error or a misperception.

It takes strategic planning to effectively communicate with your employees. It takes someone asking the difficult questions, such as how will this new initiative be perceived by employees? Is this the best time to send the communication or should you wait so you can avoid information overload. How does this communication fit into the company’s messaging, communication plans and branding.

Even when your internal client is screaming that this last-minute communication has to go out today, step back and take in the whole picture before you hit the send button. Think it through—be strategic. It doesn’t have to take that long and you’ll save yourself loads of time in the long run.

2) Know Your Audience

As you know, the most important aspect of communications is knowing your target audience. Decide who needs to see the communication. Know your audience’s level of understanding about the subject matter. Know their concerns. Know how receptive your audience is and if there is any sensitivity around the subject your communicating.

You might think nothing of sending out a notice to all employees about a new benefit. But if your union employees just relinquished that benefit in their last negotiations, you’ve just rubbed salt into a wound. Always keep your audience in mind; tailor communications to their needs; and, as much as possible, target communications to specific groups.

3) Be Proactive

It’s never too early to start planning how you’ll communicate a new initiative or policy change to employees. The sooner you get up to speed on the topic, the easier it will be to communicate the topic to employees. And the sooner you start planning, the more successful your communications campaign will be.

Being proactive also means anticipating questions and concerns your employee audience may have so that you can address them up front in your initial communication. This will signal to employees that you’re listening to them; you care enough to be concerned about their issues; and you want them to have a clear understanding of the policies and initiatives that impact their careers.

When communications are not proactive, very often it creates confusion, a slew of questions and disengagement. Why not spend the time anticipating and addressing employee questions rather than having to send multiple follow up emails to address each question.

4) Start Now

Jump start the planning for your communication goals. I’ve designed the Communications Planning Checklist as a simple tool to get you thinking and strategizing about your next communication. The checklist follows the journalist’s axiom of asking who, what, why, when, where and how. You’ll find that the answer to one question will often inform another, so you may want to go through the checklist a couple of times. It works for both internal and external communications.

Whether it’s one email or an integrated communications campaign, the checklist will help you lay a solid foundation for communications success.

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