Internal communication is important for the success of every organisation. In the past, internal communication dealt only with the media. These included company magazines, newspapers and brochures. Today, communicators focus on messages, reach out to relevant audiences, advise on strategy design and implementation, and run engagement campaigns based on real insights. Many leaders have realised that successful organisations communicate with their employees and that internal communication matters. This, in turn, provides many opportunities for internal communication practitioners.
What is internal communication
Further, internal communication deals with sharing information, building understanding and creating commitment with the aim of achieving a desirable result. According to Tench (2006, p. 318), internal communication is “the planned use of communication actions to systematically influence the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of current employees.” According to this definition, internal communication is a meticulously planned undertaking. Influence means that organisations should persuade their employees to do what they want them to do and not to push or force them. Communication professionals should work with colleagues from other departments and make sure that employees have access to resources that help them perform their duties according to high-quality standards. To achieve a desirable result, internal communicators should design and carry out internal projects in cooperation with the colleagues from other teams.
Tasks of an internal communicator
Prospering organisations know that communication works best when it is a conversation. Employees are more likely to hear what their leaders are saying when they can raise questions and express their opinion about specific issues within the organisation. Thus, it is essential for internal communicators to develop suitable channels and practices that allow employees to ask questions and to provide their feedback. Employees are the biggest supporters of the organisation. They can help it in growing its business and shaping its external image.
A skilled internal communicator helps leadership develop a core purpose. To do this, they should first understand the main challenges facing the organisation. These can be: keeping skilled employees, finding better ways of performing tasks, creating an atmosphere of trust, selling more products and offering diverse services to customers and other challenges. An internal communicator should first make sure that every single employee understands what their organisation is doing and where it is going. Once an internal communicator has detected the main challenges, it is essential for him or her to understand how internal communication can help in dealing with them.
Importance of ethics
All communicators should subscribe to some notion of ethics, usually defined by a professional body. The UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) outlines that practitioners should adhere to 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.
(You can find the CIPR code of conduct here.)
For internal communicators adhering to the code of conduct is important for many reasons. Most of them have had the experience of being ask to resort to illegal or dishonest practices. Therefore, a professional set of ethics is useful when deciding one’s own standards and values when performing one’s professional duties. Every communicator should have a personal understanding of how ethical norms and values apply to them and how they comply with their professional responsibilities.
In conclusion, every internal communicator should have a commitment to learning and developing his or her skills and competences. The tools and practices in the communications profession are changing quickly and communicators should understand, practise and develop them further.
Article written by Liudmila Kazak,
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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.