I know you're busy. And with all the balls you're juggling, it may be hard to decide what to do next to improve your internal communication program.
That's why I want you to consider this: The one thing you should make time for is to measure much, much more.
It's true that there are at least three reasons why research gets short shrift in employee communication:
- It takes time (and sometimes money) to do well.
- Measurement (especially anything to do with math) does not come naturally to communicators.
- In many organizations, senior management doesn’t really care whether communication is effective—they just care that their message was sent.
But, despite the obstacles, research is a powerful tool. It gives you real-life perspectives you can’t get in the rarified atmosphere of Headquarters. It puts you in touch with your audience in a meaningful and profound way. It provides you with ammunition—empirical evidence—to make your case. And it demonstrates the value of your work, through metrics (an important concept in results-driven organizations.)
It's true that measurement isn't easy. The good news is that, as long as you follow sound research principles, even “a little research” has value. Distribute and collect comment cards after the town hall meetings. Conduct five focus groups to get employee feedback about communication vehicles. User-test your intranet. Involve a percentage of employees in an online survey.
As with exercise, you don’t have to conduct research perfectly—but you do have to do it.