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Internal communication: how can I convince my top management that it is strategic?

When the end of the year approaches, communication directors need to finalize their budget for the next year. It can be a tricky period for the internal comms teams.

Indeed, they must be able to prove the reasons behind maintaining or increasing their budgets. But could it be that internal communicators are still solely associated to an internal magazine or the intranet? People who would just convey the messages of the big boss?

Despite the old prejudice, a transformation is taking place within the internal communication department. We know it and you do to…. But is your top management aware of it? So how can you explain to your management that the internal communication has become so strategic?


Redefine the role of the internal communicator


 

“But, by the way, what is internal communication really about?”

Unfortunately, this question comes back quite often. In order to understand why their role is so strategic, it is important to (re)define the mission of internal communicators.

What is at stake when communicating internally is to find all the means possible to reach and inform the targetted audience: the employees. The piece of information can deal with a wide range of topics, from strategy to the company moving to the promotion of professions and successes.

A second challenge is to manage to  get all the employees’ attention, regardless of where they work. In addition, the messages sent around must be understood by everyone

For a long time, the internal communicator was preceived as the one who passes on messages coming ” from above”.

Great news, he or she is becoming the one who motivates everyone to move towards a flatter, more balanced communication. This did not happen by chance, but from mere observation. Employees are speaking out in their daily lives, and they do too at the office. Internal communicators have understood this.

Indeed,  last but not least, they want to create a virtuous bond between each party, employees… And the management.


Valuing internal communication to face big challenges 


Frequently, it can happen that the tools suggested by internal communicators to spread their message are not supported by their management. After all, why insist on developing a mobile application? What’s the point of investing in a new intranet? A corporate social network! And what else?

But here’s the thing: being interested in internal communication also means being interested in a target that is, for the most part, exposed to a wave of digital experience… Of quality!  And in the company, the verdict is often clear: the difference between the digital experience in the personal life of employees and the one lived within their company can often be abysmal. 


Some people will say that things should not be rushed, or that the Return On Investment/ROI on those tools is close to zero… But this is not so true! Which type of company do you want to be? What kind of image would you like to convey to potential candidates? Or to new employees? To the employees who have stopped using the intranet because they find it too dull and cannot use it outside the office anyway?

Faced with those facts, communicators are trying to catch up on with the gap in the company’s internal communications. Indeed, external communications, directed to the clients, are often considered as the priority, before internal actions. However, isn’t it thanks to the employees that the company can shine externally? They are the same employees  who will be able to communicate about the company modernity, shown through the app they used to better inform themselves during their first days at work. They are the ones who  can bring up information on their ESN and share their daily lives with others.

Internal communicators want tools to value the internal face of the company in order to meet important objectives: valuing the employees, bringing up information, showing transparency, improving recruitment and employee retention… All those topics are highly strategic.


Internal communication: an essential managerial skill 

An employee can go through many changes within a company. Some will be seen as opportunities, other will be perceived as challenges. In order to support the employees in the acceptation of strategic decisions, the company will need to rely on the managers.

In spite of the digital invasion, a manager remains a strong figure, who is close by. Top Managements need them to convey the right messages, but not all of them are trained to communicate effectively. It is therefore important to resort to internal communication to support managers and give them tools when needed. Internal communication therefore becomes a managerial skill that is used to meet strategic challenges.


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