Effective internal communication is crucial for the success of any organization. Historically, internal communication primarily involved traditional media channels such as company magazines, newspapers, and brochures. However, modern communicators are now dedicated to crafting impactful messages, engaging with pertinent audiences, offering strategic advice, and executing campaigns based on genuine insights. Leaders increasingly recognize that thriving organizations prioritize communication with their employees, highlighting the significance of internal communication. This realization opens up numerous opportunities for professionals in the field.
What Constitutes Internal Communication
Internal communication involves the dissemination of information, fostering understanding and cultivating commitment to achieve favorable outcomes. As per Tench (2006, p. 318), internal communication is "the planned use of communication actions to systematically influence the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of current employees." This definition underscores the strategic planning inherent in internal communication. The term "influence" suggests that organizations should aim to persuade employees rather than resorting to coercion. Collaboration between communication professionals and colleagues from various departments is essential, ensuring that employees have access to resources that enable them to carry out their responsibilities at high-quality standards. To attain favorable results, internal communicators should collaborate on internal projects with colleagues from different teams.
Responsibilities of an Internal Communicator
Successful organizations recognize that effective communication is a two-way street, functioning best when it evolves into a conversation. Employees are more receptive to leadership messages when they have the opportunity to pose questions and express their opinions on organizational matters. Consequently, it becomes crucial for internal communicators to establish appropriate channels and methods that facilitate employee inquiries and feedback. Employees serve as the organization's staunchest advocates, contributing to its business growth and shaping its external reputation.
An adept internal communicator assists leadership in formulating a core purpose. This involves a preliminary understanding of the primary challenges confronting the organization, such as retaining skilled and competent employees, optimizing task performance, fostering a culture of trust, enhancing product sales, and delivering diverse services to customers. Ensuring that each employee comprehends the organization's objectives is the initial responsibility of an internal communicator. After identifying the key challenges, it becomes imperative for them to discern how internal communication can effectively address these issues.
Significance of Ethical Considerations
Every communicator should adhere to a set of ethical principles, typically defined by a professional association. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in the UK emphasizes that practitioners should maintain the code of conduct by:
- upholding the highest standards of professional integrity, confidentiality, financial propriety and personal conduct;
- dealing honestly in business with employers, employees, clients, fellow professionals, other professions and the public;
- respecting, in their dealings with other people, the legal and regulatory frameworks and codes of all countries where they practise.
Internal communicators find significance in adhering to the code of conduct for several reasons. Many have encountered situations where they were urged to engage in illegal or dishonest practices. Hence, having a professional code of ethics is valuable in establishing individual standards and values when carrying out professional responsibilities. It is crucial for every communicator to personally comprehend how ethical norms and values pertain to their role and how they align with their professional duties.
In summary, it is imperative for every internal communicator to be dedicated to continual learning and the enhancement of their skills and competencies. Given the rapid evolution of tools and practices in the communication and public relations profession, communicators must grasp, apply, and further develop them to stay adept in their roles.
1. CIPR, 2018. CIPR Code of Conduct [online]. Available from: https://www.cipr.co.uk/content/members/public-relations-register-overview/cipr-code-conduct [Accessed on 9 October 2018].
2. FitzPatrick L. & K. Valskov, 2014. Internal Communications: A manual for practitioners (PR in Practice). Kogan Page Limited: London.
3. Tench R. & L. Yeomans, 2006. Exploring Public Relations, Pearson: Harlow.