Tackle internal comms with confidence in 2021

By Samantha McCabe
February 18, 2021
6 min read
Engaged culture

Internal communications as a sector continues to take over the world. We’re just kidding, mostly—but it really is continuing to rise in importance for companies that are realizing the crucial role it has to play in employee satisfaction and efficiency.

Without reflecting on 2020 too much, one thing that we know for sure about last year is that it changed the way we work. This has had a direct impact on internal communicators and how vital our work is.

With the reassurance that internal communicators are not only valued, but essential, how can you maximize that opportunity? See the full story by watching the full webinar hosted by our in-house internal communications specialist, Karen Johnston, on February 2, or read on.

The internal comms environment of 2021

Think of these next few months as setting the stage for what’s to come—this year is a chance to reset and lay the groundwork for future successes. 2021 is all about creating sustainability. In other words, what are you doing now to build your ideal work environment?

Part of that journey is keeping an ear to the ground and listening to what your employees and colleagues are thinking about this year. Here are some of the themes we’ll be dealing with, according to the predictions of our seasoned internal comms experts:

Well-being and mental health

Nobody made it through last year unscathed, and as we continue to deal with this public health emergency, the well-being of staff will continue to be a priority.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion

Last year prompted recognition of the work that needs to be done for achieving equity in the workplace; this year will be about concrete, tangible action towards that goal and creating positive cultural shifts.

Digitization and hybrid work flexibility

Another mainstay of 2020, the changes we made to how we work will likely live on in the new year, influencing the way we conduct internal comms.

The deskless work force

Though digitization and hybrid work are important themes, more effort is needed to connect with crucial frontline workers.

Data collection

How are internal communicators proving that their efforts are actually having an impact? High-quality metrics and a focus on story and narrative to demonstrate impact will be essential.

Business survival

Much like a year ago, it’s a tough environment for businesses big and small, and internal communicators are there to communicate any ongoing changes.

The millennial workforce

As more millennials and Gen Z’ers pour into the workforce, listening to our younger counterparts (and vice versa!) will result in more diversity of thought.

Doing more with less

We’re all stretched and strapped to the limit, but there are ways to still make quality internal communication work and resonate.

You might notice that humanity, empathy, and connection run through all of these themes. Now more than ever, anything less than authenticity just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Manifest workplace confidence…

As Stan Smith once said, “Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it.” For many internal communicators working off the side of their desk, they haven’t been given the space to build the experience or the confidence to do their job fully. Consider if it might be time to allow yourself to pursue both.

It’s not about arrogance, and you don’t need to present yourself as a know-it-all—simply being aware of your skills and knowing how to handle what’s thrown at you will do the job.

Ask yourself on a regular basis: how am I having this conversation with my team? How am I empowering them to take control of what they do, and giving them access to the resources they need to do it?

There are four key elements here:

  • Why is internal comms important in this case?
  • What needs to be done?
  • How can we make results happen?
  • Which results and measurements do I need to give my executive or team leader for them to make sense of my role?

If you find the answers to those questions, you can work with newfound workplace confidence.

… and own your internal comms mandate

Okay, you have the confidence and the know-how. Now how do you get your team on the same page?

Think about your role within your organization. No, not your job description—your role, or the part you play in the bigger picture of your company’s goals. Put another way, what is the impact that your leadership team wants you to have within the internal comms space?

It’s important to know the answer to these questions off the top of your head because, when you get the political will of a company to support you in your mandate, it means you are empowered and you have the access required to do your job properly.

By owning your mandate and getting everyone else on board, you receive that crucial support piece not only for what you’re doing, but how you’re doing it. A clear mandate helps you retain focus and tune out the noise. With that out of the way, you can focus on adding even more value.

There’s no one picture for what this conversation might look like. It might be yearly, it might be quarterly, it might be weekly—it’s up to you. But it is a discussion you need to having with your team.

If you’re still wrapping your head around the idea of what your mandate might be and how to accurately define it, don’t stress. We’ve developed a handy questionnaire tool for you to take to the leadership table and guide everyone through that conversation.

Don’t stress, keep it simple

At this point, you might be feeling overwhelmed. But remember: good internal communications comes down to 7 principles:

You’re making a plan to deliver the right message, to the right people, in the right way and at the right time, and get the data to show that we did so successfully.

You’ll notice that each segment of this relatively simple sentence attaches to one of the 7 principles—and that they all inform the success of each other. Once you have those 7 pieces mastered, you can focus on the unique challenges this year will present, communicate that mandate to your team in a clear way, and proceed with confidence in informing your employees.

Dig deeper

Want to go further into how our 7 core principles can improve your internal communications and set your 2021 up for success? We have a full webinar on this topic, which you can watch and learn from in under an hour.

Curious to see how you stack up? Our free assessment is another great way to take stock of your strengths and weaknesses in internal communications, lending you clarity on how to improve.

By Samantha McCabe