During a recent meeting with a client, I was asked, “After we finalize the communication plan, should we stick with it or tweak it?”

Let’s start with the first part of his question: “stick with it.” One of the advantages of a communication plan is that it sets up a disciplined approach. Everyone knows what will happen and when.

But a great plan responds to the changing needs of employees.

That brings us to the second part of his question: “tweak it.” The best plans include measurement moments so the plan can be adjusted—improving the impact of communication. Tweaks can take the form of changing key messages in tactics or changing communication channels altogether (adding new ones or removing those that are no longer useful).

Here are a five ways to include feedback mechanisms in your plan, so communication remains relevant and useful for employees:

Spot surveys (three to five questions). If you’re trying to build awareness or deeper knowledge, a spot survey is a great way to test if you’re breaking through. Depending on the duration of your communication plan, repeat the survey to assess progress.            

Behavior data. Often a communication plan is designed to encourage a behavior or action, such as enrolling in a plan. Set a goal (90% will enroll by the end of the month) and track the results.

Participation data. Are employees using the tools you created? For example, if you created a microsite to keep everyone up to date on a new initiative, do employees visit and which pages are most popular?

Questions. The questions employees ask are important clues about what you need to address in your communication plan. Collect them during town halls, and via email and intranet pages. The fun part is categorizing the questions and identifying themes.

Focus groups. Qualitative research doesn't need to be complicated. Run a focus group to test key elements of your communication plan. And run another session after you’ve launched to understand what’s missing for employees.

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