I love hiking. It’s exciting to go on an adventure in the great outdoors, not knowing what you’ll see along the trail. I also enjoy the zen of breathing in that fresh air and spending time with my friends (and their dogs).

But before I put my boots on and hit the trail, I sit down and make a plan:

  • First, I check the weather forecast and look for any warnings in the region (bear sightings or wildfires.)
  • Since I rarely hike alone, I consider my fellow hikers’ capabilities. Can they handle rough terrain or long distance? Will we need to make frequent stops?
  • Then our hiking group decides where we want to go and what we want to see.
  • Armed with info, I take a look at a map to assess which trail is the best. (My colleague, Kathleen is the best trail guide!)
  • Finally, I make a list of the things needed for the journey, including food, water and plenty of bug spray!

Why do I put all this time into planning? At the end of the day, I want to achieve my goal—climb that mountain or hike further than I’ve ever gone before. And most important: I want to reach my destination safely (without breaking a leg or running into a grumpy bear.)

Just like charting a hike, planning is also an important part of employee communication. Here are five tips for creating an effective internal communication plan that will help you reach and engage employees:

  1. Assess the situation. Before you dig into your plan, you need to consider what’s happening in your organization to make a case for your plan: Do you have a new CEO? Is there a big change, such as a merger or acquisition, coming up?
  2. Know your audience. To ensure your plan is relevant for employees, you need to get a pulse on what they need. For example: If you’re creating a leader communication plan, review results of a recent employee engagement survey to see what employees want from their leaders (e.g., more visibility, transparency, etc.)
  3. Define your objectives. It’s important to create clear objectives to guide and measure the effectiveness of your communication efforts. Start by asking: What do you want employees to know, believe or do as a result of your plan?
  4. Plan as a team. You’re more likely to get the insights and buy-in you need for your plan if you include your team in the communication planning process. Work together to map out your strategy and ensure it’s achievable for everyone.
  5. Determine your resources. Consider what resources (e.g., budget, communication tools, etc.) that you’ll need to implement your plan.

Once you have a great plan, revisit it often to check your progress, make adjustments and keep on track to achieving your objectives.

Happy trails!

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