Internal Communications Quote #6: Tools and Rules

internal communications tools


“Tools and rules” support the internal communication function. Calendars, templates, checklists, and written processes and procedures are all necessary to get the job done efficiently and flawlessly, and stylebooks, glossaries and branding guidelines can help drive consistency and desired brand behavior.

Together, all of these tools help you to produce work that is on time, on budget and on message. The tools allow you to plan the work, rather than having the work plan you. They also help you to get out in front of the work and operate as a strategic communicator and executive counselor, and less as a tactician and “fast food communicator.” Of course, you will need to tailor these tools to suit your needs and develop others depending on your organization’s needs.

In a perfect world, you would first spend time developing the tools you need to do your job and then begin serving your organization. However, in the real world, you usually develop these tools in the midst of performing your ongoing daily duties and while juggling multiple major projects. You may find yourself overwhelmed with work and feel you don’t have time to develop tools. I used to feel that way until I discovered that taking the time to develop such tools saves time in the long run, facilitates continuous improvement, and provides a solid foundation that allows creativity and strategic thinking to flourish.

I discovered the power of a written communication plan early in my career when I had to devise a plan for a layoff at a manufacturing plant. The particular challenge with this situation was that eight different languages were spoken at the facility where the layoffs were to occur. I had never developed a plan for a layoff before, so I wasn’t quite sure where to start. Imagine my joy when I came across a written strategic communication plan that had been created for a previous layoff in our online communication plan library. It had key messages, strategies and tactics I could easily adapt for my plan. It had special audiences listed (such as vendors who would be concerned about the plant potentially closing) that I might have missed. It even had a WARN letter already drafted and approved by the legal department. (The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act or “WARN” requires most employers with 100 or more employees to provide written notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.) The communication plan and WARN letter saved me hours of work. That gave me time to focus on ways to tackle the unique problem of my plan: the multiple language barriers. Working with the plant manager, we were able to identify trusted bilingual employees among each of the eight language groups. We used these employees to deliver our key messages in the native language for each group.

I learned a lot about layoff communication that day, and I also learned that rather than always reinventing the wheel, having a communication plan library can save a lot of time. It wasn’t too hard after that experience to convince me that taking the time to develop other tools and processes also could save time and facilitate continuous improvement.

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This internal communications quote and accompanying passage was taken from Paul Barton’s book, Maximizing Internal Communication: Strategies to Turn Heads, Win Hearts, Engage Employees and Get Results, available on Amazon or right here on our website.

Related Post: Tools to Save Time and Work Better

Paul Barton Communications Internal Communications Strategic Plan


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