What’s the most important part of successful employee engagement? A beautiful creative treatment? A solution that hits the objective bang on? Evidence of impact? There’s a definite case for all of the above. But for me, it’s what gets you to all this and more – effective internal communications planning.
In my experience, people think about preparing for an activity in two distinctly different ways.
For some, the plan reigns supreme. Former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said: “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan”. Which seems a polite way of saying that you might as well structure your thoughts into a plan if you’re going to all the trouble of thinking them anyway. Essentially, you need proper groundwork if you want to guarantee a successful outcome.
And then there are those who want to forget about planning, and just get on and do. Take religious leader Gordon Hinckley’s: “You can’t plough a field simply by turning it over in your mind” for example. He believed just thinking about something wasn’t going to make it happen. Planning only does so much; it’s the doing that brings the real value.
The value of internal communications planning
What struck me about all these words of wisdom though, was that none of them really capture what matters about planning. Whether they framed it as an essential facilitator or a complicating obstacle, they all focused on the outcome or the fully formed plan, rather than the process of planning.
It’s a subtle but vital nuance. There’s a difference between having a plan, and valuing the process of getting there. If you’re too focused on getting from A to B, you risk missing out on some of the natural by-products of a good planning act – benefiting from other’s experience, creative avenues you might have missed, and scrutinising whether your plan has stayed on track in line with your initial objectives. Which is why when it comes to internal communications planning, it’s a valuable distinction to make.
Making the most of planning
Here’s a handful of the best ways I’ve learned to use planning its best advantage:
- Engineer moments in your planning act to keep returning to the beginning. It’s easy to veer off course, especially with multiple teams involved or a long-term project delivery. Returning to the objectives again and again keeps everyone focused, enables more effective measurement, and allows objectives to evolve over time if need be
- Allow yourself the chance to be inspired – in planning this blog, I sketched out a rough content structure before I fleshed it out. As is so often the case, my original idea was improved by the simple act of planning
- Use the planning process to maximise others’ input and expertise – take the time to ensure you’re using your resources as fully and fittingly as possible. Think about who can help, how and when – which can mean factoring in everyone from key players to fresh eyes or a sounding board
- Start at the end by thinking from the outset about how you’ll measure your impact. That way, you can build measurement and evaluation into your business as usual at every opportunity.
To sum up, we always love to get creative, but we’re also a sucker for solid internal communications planning. Get in touch to find out how we can help.