Whether you are growing, changing, or introducing new business technologies, a communication audit is helpful, if not essential

A Communication Audit. This is a comprehensive, systematic evaluation and analysis of your company’s communication. A communication audit unveils what is guava-tree-fieldtruly happening as opposed to what is thought to be happening. It:

  • Encompasses the activities conducted in a communication assessment and its resultant findings (although here it is more robust).
  • Identifies the people who create the messages and information being communicated.
  • Evaluates the clarity and value of the communication.
  • Critically looks at the various methods of communication (such as Web sites, newsletters, emails, blogs, videos, and other publications, as well as interpersonal skills and managerial communication), pinpointing problem areas and identifying successes.

A communication audit must be thoughtfully planned and implemented, and the results carefully assessed to achieve the greatest impact.

The Scope of a Communication Audit. You can focus on a number of communication areas to evaluate and analyze. This focus can be the broad-based communication for the entire company or for an individual division or group. It can be a specific communication method (such as interpersonal communication or your internal Web site) or for a specific vehicle (such as your corporate publications).

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Conduct a Communication Assessment to determine the quality of your communication before spending the time and money required for a more comprehensive Communication Audit.

Since the most successful companies communicate well, understanding how your communication is working and how it might work better is critical to achieving this success. Flawed communication leads to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, mistakes, low morale, higher turnover, decreased sales, and lower market valuation; whereas effective castle-stream-rightcommunication leads to lower turnover, greater contributions, increased total shareholder value, and stronger market valuation of your company.

Communication is a complex process with many potential pitfalls that can be identified and corrected.

There are two methods to determine the quality of your communication; a:

  • Communication Assessment (a short, pointed process)
  • Communication Audit (a comprehensive, far-reaching process that encompasses the activities of a communication assessment)

Both strategically evaluate and analyze your company’s communication; both form the basis for a Communication Plan. A communication assessment is a fixed-cost alternative that quickly gives you a bead on your communication efforts, which helps you determine if you need to spend the time and money necessary to conduct a more comprehensive communication audit.

A Communication Assessment. This closed-end, short-term process focuses on the quality of your communication: how employees at all levels feel about your internal communication, its content, and the distribution vehicles.

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A numerical perspective on the benefits of effective communication

Employees feel disconnected in companies with poor communication. Why effective communication is needed in a workplace without it:

humphreys-signs40%: Employees who feel disconnected at work.

67%: Workers who do not identify with or are motivated to help the company attain its business goals and objectives.

25%: Employees who show up just to collect a paycheck. (1)

49%: Employees who feel their company is open and honest in its communication.

55%: Employees who feel that senior leadership only talks at them, but doesn’t listen to them.

51%: Employees without a channel to communicate up the corporate organizational chart. (2)

Benefits to companies that communicate better. Company that communicate effectively enjoy these statistical benefits over firms with poor communication:

30: Percent increase in market valuation. (3)

57: Percent higher in total return to share-holders than companies that communicated least effectively.

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Growing, changing companies inevitably experience breakdowns in communication; a well-founded Communication Plan overcomes these impediments

Consider these questions to better determine how well you are communicating.

  • Are your employees at all levels talking to each other?
  • Do your strategic groups know what each other is doing?


  • Is there a breakdown in communication—the information only goes so far, but from that point on, everyone makes it up as they go?
  • Is there animosity over the perception that other groups simply don’t contribute enough to the company’s success?
  • Does your staff know exactly how to proceed, or are there conflicting ideas?
  • Are expectations clear?
  • Are departments duplicating efforts while other tasks are left undone?
  • Was your communication once flawless, but now that you are growing and changing quickly, these communication channels just don’t work anymore or are filled with static?

Communication fails as a company grows and changes. As a company grows—whether through sales or acquisition—communication becomes more of a challenge. What once seemed so intuitive, now seems like such a struggle. The breakdown of communication channels is common. This is not an isolated phenomenon, but rather a pervasive issue with growth and change.

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The resulting discussion leads to continuous improvement and innovation

Successful performance means bringing together the best resources for serving future needs with a company’s capabilities, investing in the these resources, then constantly measuring and managing the results. To best bring these resources together, you must communicate effectively. And for that, you need a plan.

A Communication Plan relates the a company’s brand, image, mission, values, and goals to all employees, informing them of what the company does and for whom; the benefits wire-pass-angled-rocksit offers and the problems it solves. It describes communication channels that facilitate the exchange of information and ideas among your board, executives, management, and staff. It is a strategic discussion about the very core of a company: how it operates, what it stands for, what it delivers. This discussion must be robust enough so that everyone related to the company speaks with one voice, one mind, one purpose: a focused, clear, articulate message.

Creating and implementing a Communication Plan. One way to create and implement a Communication Plan on your behalf is by applying four communication principals: Enlighten, Convince, Motivate, and Align. These four-steps provide the framework for creating and implementing company-wide communication where everyone actively participates.

When creating a Communication Plan, address the particular challenges to communicating effectively in your company. To better evaluate poor or nonexistent internal communication, look for ways to change how you talk about problems, to truly assess and analyze these problems in a new light, and to generate new and innovative solutions.

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A thoughtful, thorough plan draws a clear map toward a shared destination

A Communication Plan defines a process for communication among all employees at all levels. It is a strategic method of getting everyone involved in the company, its growth and evolution, and ultimately its continued success.

sedona-rocksA Communication Plan is based on strategic goals, aligned and focused, and results in increased revenue and profitability, more robust innovation, and marked organizational stability. It unites everyone—directors, executives, managers, and employees—in your company toward this strategic goal with a shared purpose.

Specifically, a Communication Plan identifies:

  • The types of communication that most benefit your organization.
  • The people involved in sending, receiving, and contributing to this communication.
  • The best channels—written, audio, video, electronic, verbal, interactive, and others—for creating and transmitting this communication, and an action plan for implementing these channels. These channels allow for clear communication up and down the corporate organization chart (from directors and executives, to managers and employees, and back) and among all divisions, groups, and colleagues.
  • A time table for how often information is communicated. Regular communication is one of the many keys to success.

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Communicating effectively creates a myriad of benefits, especially increased shareholder return and higher market valuation

Effective communication performs a core corporate role, vital to your company’s financial capacity as well as to your overall success.

boundary-treeThis success encompasses many measurable factors:

  • Increased market valuation.
  • Increased shareholder value.
  • Greater connection and commitment from employees.
  • A more robust and inclusive corporate culture.
  • Proactive involvement that drives corporate change and growth.

In essence, effective communication drives business results that lead to success.

Increased market valuation. Effective communication is one of the leading indicators for financial performance. Research shows that, over the first years of this century, companies with the most effective communication attained a 30 percent increase in market valuation. This is almost 20 percent higher than companies that do not communicate effectively.

This holds true for both publicly-traded as well as privately-held companies.

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Your use of social media channels must be strategic, advancing your company’s goals and enhancing your profitability

Social media has forever altered the way we communicate. Blogs, tweets, wikis, social networks, professional networks, online news wires, RSS technology, podcasts, videocasts, and other social media tools necessitate a revised communication strategy.

antique-gas-pumpsYou can employ these social media tools for a myriad of reasons:

  • Communicating with employees and empowering their collaboration.
  • Engaging your customers and prospects to attain the results you desire.
  • Building your reputation and brand, and shaping your perception in the marketplace.
  • Influencing behavior, increasing awareness, and growing a community of supporters.

Social media is fragmented and personal, and yet is a more effective means of communicating. Information is garnered from many different sources; you are no longer in control of all the messages.

Understand the five C’s of social media. All social media share a common set of characteristics, the five C’s: conversation, contribution, collaboration, connection, and community. Through social media, people state and discuss their thoughts and opinions, their experiences and expectations, and their perspectives about your company, your employees, your products, and your services. How you engage in this dialogue fuels your social media community, toward ill will and goodwill.

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Whenever I present on social media, I am invariably asked, “Where do I find the time to regularly participate?” It’s a good question. To paraphrase Steven Covey, “I make the time.”

Still, I found keeping up with social media to be difficult at first. Over time, I’ve developed a process that works for me (most days, at least). Before I get into details, let’s back up a bit to consider the larger perspective.

making-time-for-social-mediaFirst, let’s talk rationale. Why engage at all? Two big reasons. One: social media is one of the primary uses of the Internet; it has exploded over the past few years. And two: your engagement can enrich your professional career.

Second, let’s talk strategy and answer a most relevant question in communication: Where are you going? Define the overriding goal for your social media presence, then make sure that everything conforms to this goal. For example, because I am an independent communication consultant, my goal is to be perceived as an enlightened, knowledgeable expert. I know this is a lofty goal, but it certainly gives me something to continually pursue. In that respect, George Bernard Shaw has motivated me when he wrote, “I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.”

Now that the foundation is set, let’s talk process. I spend at most 20 minutes each morning on social media. It’s time that I can more easily fit into my schedule if I do it first.

When I open my browser, I double-click a folder I created that bookmarks my pages on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and my Toward Humanity blog. This causes each bookmark to open in its own tab. You can set up your folder anyway you want (for instance, Europeans might want their Xing page to open). I could have set my browser to open these pages on start up, but I only want to open them once, and creating the folder enables me to control when they open. Once open, I spend some time on each one.

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When I first suggested staying competitive with social media to the project manager, he just looked at me blankly. “What would be the purpose?” he said. “Wouldn’t it just be another level of overhead?”

Valid questions, I thought. So I explained.

staying-competitive-with-social-mediaProject Management. A LinkedIn group would allow everyone to exchange information and to discuss issues openly. We could all see who else was involved in the project, and we could review everyone’s background. That would allow us not only to appreciate each other more, but also to call on the most appropriate person for a particular topic. We wouldn’t have to know each other’s email addresses; we could just communicate through LinkedIn. And everything discussed on the project would reside in one place where we all could review it and access it from wherever.

The group would be members only. People would have to request to join, and I would pass any names not associated with the project to the project manager before I allowed them to join. Ultimately, it would give us all a sense of purpose, ownership, and camaraderie.

I could see that the project manager was ruminating on that a bit, so I waited. What he said next brought a smile to my face.

“If we are going to use LinkedIn to better manage the project, what about using another social media tool for topics that demand more immediacy, like Twitter.”

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