Do you really know how your organizational communication is performing? Sure, you probably have a pretty accurate gut feel, but do you have the data and insights that really show where you’re nailing it, and where there are gaps to be addressed? It may be time to consider doing a communication audit - and we’re here to walk you through the process, in 5 easy to follow steps.
As with any function, the performance of organizational communication should be reviewed regularly - this is what’s known as a communication audit. Running a communication audit is like a physical for your communications - it lets you know where to focus, so that the approach can be adapted to take advantage of new technologies, phase out inefficient or outdated ways of doing things, and to account for organizational growth and change.
So what does an audit involve?
An audit should look at all aspects of how communication works in your organization, including:
The communication culture
Directional flow of communication and opportunities for employees to be heard.
This seems like a lot of work. What’s in it for me?
Undertaking a communications audit can seem overwhelming, but it’s a classic short-term pain, long-term gain scenario. There’s no getting around the fact that it will take time and effort, but the data an audit yields is invaluable. Here are some examples:
Potentially saving thousands of hours and dollars by enabling communication efforts to be better directed
Providing an evidence-based business case for new resources or technologies
Helping the culture to improve by highlighting opportunities for improved engagement with employees.
So, we’ve convinced you that you should do an audit (of course we have). Now, where do you begin?
Here are our 5 generally-pretty-easy steps to conducting a communications audit
Step One: Scoping.
Before you set out, it’s important to understand what you want to review and why. Share your proposed approach with stakeholders to make sure everybody is on board from day one.
Step Two: Discovery.
This is where the fun begins. During this step, you should review all organizational documents related to communication, such as:
Policies and procedures
Responses to communication-focussed questions in employee engagement surveys.
Ask: Are these documents still relevant? Are they helpful? What do they teach us about the communication culture at our organization?
This is also where you’ll be assessing the performance of your communications, gathering and reviewing data such as:
Intranet views, clicks and ‘time on page’ statistics
Email open and click-through rates
Internal social media engagement
Feedback from other channels such as town hall meetings
Ask: What seems to be working well? Where is there room to improve? What other information would be useful to paint a fuller picture?
Step Three: Stakeholder Insight
We find that this is often the most valuable stage of the process. The numbers you’ve gathered in step two tell you what is going on. By meeting one on one with stakeholders, or holding focus groups, you’ll begin to understand why - and what needs to change.
Step Four: Organizing & Analyzing
Now, you have all the data you need - congratulations! The next step is to make it usable, by organizing it in a way that allows insights to emerge.
We favour using a SWOT analysis, to highlight the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for your current communications approach.
Here’s a partially filled-out example to get you started:
Step Five: Recommendations
From the insights you’ve obtained, it should now be clear what steps you need to take to improve the performance of your organization's communications. Your recommendations could be something as simple as developing email guidelines, right through to a major new technology acquisition or culture change program.
Whatever the case, your recommendations should be:
Realistic for your organization
Clearly prioritized, and
Actionable in the short to medium term.
It’s wise to discuss draft recommendations and priorities with senior stakeholders before sharing your final report more widely. Birthday surprises are good. Budget surprises are usually not.
So, now you know how to run a communications audit, we hope it feels a little less daunting. If you’re still unsure, or just don’t have the time, we’re here to help. Get in touch with any questions you may have, we’ll be happy to speak with you.