A perennial topic within Internal Communication
The importance of putting a stake in the ground
This is a perennial topic and even a festering sore-point for the vast majority of the organisations and individuals that we work with. We all know it’s an issue but it’s almost a matter of where to start… the pressure is on and the time is now.
Let me prove that with some of our own measurement! We produced a new Competency Model and assessment tool for Internal Communication around a year ago and it includes twenty competencies. Hundreds of professional Internal Communicators and teams have now completed the assessment and, by far, the lowest scoring competency across the board is ‘Measuring Impact’ with an average score of 2.3 (out of a possible 5) whereas the overall average score of all the competencies is 3.2. That’s a pretty significant gap and a great opportunity for improvement as we see it. We also surveyed around a thousand Heads of Internal Comms to understand what their current top priorities are and saw a major leap in terms of their perception of the importance of ‘Measuring Comms Effectiveness’ so the time was right for us to act.
Following our extensive research on this topic in the first half of this year we produced a study for our Forum members Measuring and Evaluating Internal Communication. In this report we broke the issue down into its component parts identifying what type of measurement method is suitable for which part of the issue and, crucially, which is not. The component parts identified were:
- Measuring our activities/outputs
- Measuring our ROI as a function through shared accountability with business-relevant KPIs and dashboards (outward facing)
- Measuring ourselves (inward facing).
We then considered the approach and outcomes of companies with demonstrable results and really smart ideas in each area, such as Shell, Nationwide, Deloitte and others as well as developing our own Melcrum tools and surveys.
What we’ve found is that when Internal Communication teams are measuring, it’s usually in the realm of the first point, measuring our activities, because frankly it’s easiest and we have control over it. Don’t get us wrong, that measurement has a place and we do need to do it sometimes, especially if we want to compare the relative success of one out-put or activity with another. However, Shell’s best practise teaches us that we can think about this type of measurement in a more dynamic way.
Let’s consider the second point in a bit more detail: Hard and fast results such as sales make it far easier for Marketing and other business functions to demonstrate their value. But given that IC can’t claim 100% responsibility or dependent variables such as these, where does that leave us when it comes to proving our return on investment (ROI)? Measurement is more about knowing we’re moving in the right direction than getting to precise measures such as ROI. And establishing a causal relationship between Internal Communication and business results is ambitious for even the most statistically minded. Correlation between communication performance and the drivers of business success is a perfectly sound way to demonstrate our impact.
Have you ever reported click-through rates or page hits and town-hall attendee numbers to your stakeholder and seen their eyes glaze over? That’s generally because these (on their own) are not measurements that the rest of the business cares about at worst they can be IC measurement for the sake of itself.
Melcrum’s research shows strategic KPIs that align Internal Communication to business goals enable us to measure what we do in ways that matter to the broader organization – because these are outcomes that they are equally accountable for. Meaning we become true strategic partners who don’t just communicate about the same objectives and high performance – we also actively drive them.
For Deloitte, a formal KPI structure did just this, helping support shared accountability for achieving business targets across the organization. For Nationwide too a series of business focused KPIs make up the dashboard that they use to report back Internal Ccommunication impact to the Board.
For the third point Melcrum developed 2 tools; The Competency Assessment (as mentioned above) identifying and assessing the key competencies of an IC professional today as well as the Diagnostic Tool which helps organisations to assess the perceived performance of their IC Function against 20 key strategic attributes in terms of Performance and Prioritisation.
My advice would be; don’t be intimidated by these organisations who are really quite advanced in their measurement, they all started somewhere. Start simple – ask yourself – What am I currently measuring? Then ask if it actually tells you what you need it to, really. Then consider how you might make your measurement more meaningful and go for it, push that stake into the ground in order to prove progression we need a starting point, a point of comparison.
Please also feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about the above or if your stake is proving illusive. Good luck!
For more best practice information on overcoming the barriers to effective measurement and tips on breaking down data silos, join Emma Hanley and guest Mossy O’Mahony, for a free 20 minute webinar. Click here to register.