The success of any internal communication strategy relies on how well that strategy is not only executed, but adopted across the organization. And in order for both the execution and adoption of the strategy to be successful, you need the support, input, and buy-in of your managers.
Or, in other words, when you’re rolling out an internal communication plan, management involvement is a must.
But how, exactly, do you get the level of involvement from your managers you need for your internal communications strategy to be successful?
We asked two internal communication experts—workplace communication strategist Nancy Burger and communications professional Aerik Radley, who directs internal communication for Firley, Moran, Freer & Eassa CPA, P.C., an accounting firm with a hybrid workforce—for their insights into how to involve managers in internal communication. Here’s what they had to say:
Why is it important to involve managers in internal communication?
First things first. Before we jump into how to get your managers involved in internal communication, let’s quickly cover why that involvement is so important to begin with.
Involving managers in internal comms is important “because it paves the way for managers to empower employees and, in turn, bolster connection, collaboration and productivity,” says Burger. And isn’t better connection, collaboration, and productivity one of the main goals of internal communication?
Getting your managers involved in internal communication also helps them understand what role they play within the execution and management of the strategy—which can ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and the strategy is successful overall.
“They have to know where their responsibilities stand with regard to the internal communication strategy,” says Radley. “[Otherwise], the plan will fall apart.”
Clearly, you want your managers involved in communication across your organization. But in what ways do you need to get them involved?
Here are a few best practices are how to involve managers in internal communication:
Involve them in the strategic process
If you want your managers to be invested in your internal comms strategy, the best thing you can do? Get them involved with the process from the very beginning.
“Involve them in the development process in some capacity,” says Radley. “Whether it is all [managers] or a representative group, they have to have a seat at the table when creating the plan and guidelines for your internal communication tools.”
Get your managers involved with your strategy from the very beginning. Ask them to share the internal communication challenges they’re dealing with, the goals they have for their team, and what kind of features or capabilities they need from internal communication tools in order to solve those challenges and reach those goals.
For example, if a company struggles to quickly and efficiently disseminate important information, something like Talkspirit’s newsfeed and survey features can help them share information company-wide when they need to. You can then use those insights to help evaluate internal communication tools and build your strategy.
Not only will including your managers in the strategic process help them feel more involved and invested in your internal communication process. “Buy-in for the plan will greatly increase when managers are included in the process and able to share their perspectives and challenges,” says Radley, but it can also help you develop a strategy that truly addresses the needs of your organization.
“By including perspectives from managers, the channels and tools will hopefully see an increased adoption rate by providing solutions for common communication challenges,” says Radley.
Give them crystal clear direction
Creating your strategy for communication within your organization is one part of the process. But once you’ve fleshed out your strategy, you’ll need your managers to help you bring your vision to life.
And in order to do that, they’ll need crystal clear direction.
“Leaders are big-picture thinkers, so it is critical that they distill their vision in a way that offers managers a clear and specific direction,” says Burger. “This will enable managers to do their jobs better because they will be able to disseminate the information in a way that empowers their staff.”
When it comes time to roll out your plan, schedule a meeting with your managers and walk them through everything in detail—from the different strategic elements of the internal comms plan to the role they play in successfully implementing that plan. While the details will vary based on your specific strategy, some direction you’ll definitely want to give your managers includes:
- Expectations (what are you trying to accomplish with the internal communication plan—and how will that be measured?)
- Goals and challenges
- Any new communication-related policies and procedures
- Different internal communication tools and how and when to use them—both for themselves and for their teams
- Their role in the strategy
- How and when to use each channel
- How to support their teams in the adoption of the new internal communication strategy
- What to do if team members aren’t following the new internal communication guidelines
The more clear direction you give your managers, the better they’ll be able to follow that direction—and the more successful your internal communication strategy will be adopted across your organization.
Give them a sense of ownership and authority
Your managers are in leadership positions for a reason. You trust them to effectively manage their employees—and give them the ownership, authority, and autonomy to do so.
So why not do the same with your organizational communication strategy?
“Give them the power to lead the conversations,” says Radley. “Having a great internal communication channel doesn’t do any good if managers are limited or prevented from using certain functions that could help them greatly.”
When it comes to internal communication, don’t try to micromanage your managers. Instead, make sure they fully understand your internal communication strategy—and then give them the authority to implement and manage that strategy within their teams.
“Managers who have been trained effectively and understand clearly the expectations set will benefit the business by properly monitoring and maintaining the professionalism and culture” across all communication channels and within their teams, says Radley.
Ask your managers for their feedback
Getting your managers involved in internal comms (for example, by including them in strategic decisions) is one thing. But if you want to keep them involved, you need to continue to ask them for feedback.
Schedule regular check-ins with your managers to discuss how internal communication is going. Are they noticing any struggles with their team? Do they feel like your tech stack is missing a key feature? Is there anything they’d like to see improved?
Then (and this is the important part!), take that feedback—and use it to adapt and change your internal communication strategy as necessary.
“When managers share information or suggestions, leaders must do more than offer a perfunctory acknowledgement,” says Burger. “They must engage and invite elaboration (‘Tell me more,’ or ‘Explain that concept in more depth’) and take notes on the responses.”
Getting your managers involved in your internal communication strategy is a key element of success. But it’s not the only one! Implementing the right tools is also a must, and should therefore be on your to-do list.
But what tools do you need exactly? And how can you choose the right one(s) for your organization? Check out our list of the 14 best software for internal communication:
Author: Deanna deBara