Thomas J. Lee of Arceil Leadership Communication enumerates his Twelve Dimensions of Strategic Internal Communication in his article at Melcrum.com.
1. Strategic Orientation and Imperative
Internal communication enables, energizes and commits employees to carry out the organization’s strategic intent when these people have a broad awareness, understanding and acceptance of such intent. The imperative and challenge of communication should, therefore, be taken into account when decisions on strategy and intent are being made. Conversely, communication tools and talents need to be oriented toward the organization’s strategic priorities.
2. Integrity and Integration
Internal communication should have integrity by being constantly and completely consistent with conduct. The organization’s decisions and actions have greater communication impact than mere rhetoric.
3. Dignity and Respect
Internal communication characterized by mutual dignity and respect builds relationships of trust and accountability, develops greater internal commitment and enables the organization to outperform others not similarly oriented.
4. Flow of Strategic Information
Credible, sensible, timely, and relevant information should flow systematically in all directions throughout the organization with the full commitment of leadership, the application of appropriate technology, and the broad participation and support of employees, so that all resources can be brought to bear on the execution of strategic intent.
5. Clarity and Power of Messages
Clear and powerful messages are coherent; consistent; complete; expressed in simple words containing a wealth of meaning; and not in conflict with other messages. They address the concerns and needs of the audience, explaining their rationale, clarifying any questions they may have raised, and acknowledging their limits.
6. External Perspective
The organization’s internal communication systems should have an external perspective and orientation anchored in the company’s external environment to be able to provide balanced, strategic, and truthful information.
7. Roles and Responsibilities
The internal communication system should clearly define the vertical and lateral sending and receiving communication responsibilities of each employee, specifying what information should be communicated, to whom, when, how and why, with built-in accountabilities and rewards. The timely, energetic and capable participation of employees throughout the organization builds a high-performance system of communication.
8. Listening and Visible Presence
Visible presence and genuine listening build relationships of respect and dignity, conducive to frequent, candid and rapid communication. Genuine listening means genuine receptivity, willingness to learn and a real inclination to respond to whatever is being communicated.
9. Training and Support
All employees should be given the necessary education and training, technological tools and resources, and communication support – including strategic information, communication channels and facilities – to enable them to communicate with timeliness, clarity, and credibility.
10. Structure and Process
Internal communication should be structured as a means to execute strategic intent, and not as an end in itself. Each employee should be an integral part of the strategic communication process, with its responsibility and tools distributed throughout the organization, building mutual trust between functions.
11. Measurement Systems
The measurement of internal communication should focus on outcomes, i.e., its effectiveness in bridging strategy and successful execution through the achievement of awareness, understanding, acceptance, and commitment.
12. Continuous Improvement
Time and resources should be devoted to a thoughtful, well-managed program of continuous improvement for the strategic internal communication processes of the organization, driven by the legitimate needs of the customer. Periodic research on best practices should be undertaken with the understanding that every organization is different and will have to fashion its own route.
Lee provides valuable insights on the needs of truly effective internal communication. I am glad to note that he highlights the necessary links between the organization’s business success, the integral role of individual employees and the values of integrity, dignity and respect. Indeed, communication would immediately fail in its purpose without genuine connection between these elements.