My children are always concerned about their ‘health’ and not the health that requires trips to the doctor but their level of health in whatever video game they are playing. They even have me roped in. My seven-year old recently set me up on Duolingo so I could learn Spanish for an upcoming trip to Panama. Duolingo measures my ‘health’ based on how many correct answers I get. My son assures me my health is ok for today.
I am forever quoting Peter Drucker, ‘what gets measured gets done’. You want to lose weight, step on the scales so you know where you are starting from, want to save money, set a figure to reach. Want to assess your health then figure out how to measure it. The health I am referring to, is the communication happening within your organisation, not external, and even deeper than the general understanding of internal but the people to people interactions that happen every day. How we treat each other.
A communication audit is a really useful tool which provides a snapshot of these transactions and allocates a value to the process. It has greater value than just relationships between colleagues but how is information transferred, how is it utilised and how is knowledge created. This is the tacit return on investment that is hard to capture.
Different layers of communication exist in an organisation, the business needs to communicate with its stakeholders; customers, shareholders, employees etc. This needs to be a two-way street, internally the business must engage its employees. Treating your employees right ensures they have the tools to look after your customers. There is another layer in this web of communication and it is how we interact between department, between teams, with our office mate, between each other. These small and often seemingly insignificant interactions affect the overall health of relationships. Small issues can chip away until suddenly it is the straw that broke the camels back.
A formal audit allows you to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of the health of the communication within your business. Maybe you already know there is an issue, or perhaps you are concerned another issue is happening because of an underlying communication concern. A systematic approach will allow you to identify and analyse. Bring in a consultant who can objectively gather information through interviews, questionnaires and observations to provide a fuller picture of the health within your communication system. In collaboration with management the consultant can then support and guide you to make an informed strategic communication plan to improve employee communication and create a healthier work culture for everyone. It might not be as much fun as a video game but hopefully a lot more effective.