How to avoid screwing up internal communication measurement

Measurement.

For many years, measurement has been a source of frustration when it comes to internal communication and organizational alignment.

Embedded analytics and easy online survey questions can be helpful in adding numbers to the internal communication story. But using them without strategic intent and thought makes them a potential trap for internal communication pros.

It’s a trap that can actually limit the power and impact of internal communication measurement activity by emphasizing what’s easier to measure over what’s meaningful to measure.

To avoid this trap, here are some measurement tips that will help your objectives and ambitions drive the process, rather than have it be driven by what’s easier to measure.

• Drive the measurement agenda

Doing that is simple – choose what gets measured, or at least make sure that some of the things that get measured are actionable, and show a direct relationship between your contribution and the organization’s results.

• Don’t benchmark, baseline.

There’s another trap that a lot of organizations fall into – the desire to benchmark performance and attitudes relative to “similar” companies – sector competitors, other large companies based in the same country being popular targets.

A real pitfall of benchmarking is the need to use common questions (or, even a common research vendor) rather than to ask questions that are specific to an organization’s own reality and context.

Baselining is far more important – asking a given question before the organization or its communicators starts take action to address the issue being examined. Good baselining and tracking allows the ability to measure the impact of your involvement over time – and also the impact of specific one-off interventions.

• Use different types of questions and measures 

There are a lot of different data sources available to an enterprising communicator.

Aside from embedded analytics, one can use surveys to address different types of questions: open-ended questions (where participants are given limited guidance about answers), open-ended lists (where participants are asked to supply several different answers), closed-ended questions where participants select the “right” answer, and ranked lists which test alignment in direct way. Add in the ability to monitor enterprise search terms on an ongoing basis – a potent source of information that can be tapped into silently but powerfully.

What to not do.

Don’t ask people what they think they know.

Earlier in my career, when I was working on organizational change programs with certain (nameless) large consultancies, I was stunned by the surveys they used.

They would ask questions like “Have you heard about the change?” and my personal favorite: “Do you understand the change?: • Aside from being non-specific about what “change” they were asking about, these questions asked participants to out themselves as ignorant, stupid or both.

Don’t do this.

Better to ask another type of question and see how close people are to the official explanation of what they are being asked about.

Measurement is an activity that has tremendous potential to support internal communicators in delivering more effectively, and help them prove their value more convincingly to senior leadership and management.

But to do that successfully, communication pros need to avoid the “measurement trap” that easily accessed data with limited relevance can set.

By following these four steps, IC pros can raise their game – and have the words and numbers at hand that demonstrate their impact.

If you want to navigate and find opportunities in the worlds of measurement, strategy, content or messaging in internal communication, start with my measurement masterclass.

Or, if you’d like to talk, send me a note at mike.klein@changingtheterms.com.

 

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Mike Klein

Mike Klein is Principal of Changing The Terms, a consultancy focused on internal, change and social communication. Mike has worked with organizations in the US and Europe for more than 20 years on pressing strategic communication challenges, and is a prolific writer and commentator on communication strategy topics. Mike is also the Founder of #WeLeadComms, an initiative to drive open recognition and in the communication profession. He holds an MBA from London Business School, and is a former US political consultant.

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