Whether it’s the monthly CEO message, staff newsletter or promised roll-out of an employee engagement campaign, we’ve all failed to meet our own deadlines because of the difficulty of working with our internal stakeholders.
Not providing information on time, wanting to make last minute changes or failing to sign-off within the agreed time-frame. These delays all add up to failure to meet deadlines.
But how do you convince your key stakeholders of the importance of meeting internal comms deadlines against the competing priorities of the business? When there’s no obvious and immediate penalties to the business, how do you explain that it’s more than just your schedule that is affected?
Here’s my top five examples I’ve used to explain to my stakeholders why internal deadlines matter:
1) You risk the communication losing credibility: Failing to meet deadlines for internal communications devalues the importance of the role you (as the comms team) were put in place to fulfill – that of equipping employees with the information they need to do their jobs and engaging employees in the vision of the organisation.
By missing a deadline, there is a signal that internal communication is de-prioritised, it’s not as important as other business, it lacks support from the top. And, if that is so, then why should employees bother to read / watch / listen to the message? Ultimately, does the business value good communication and employee engagement or is it just paying lip service?
2) News ages: If you’re tasked with delivering an important message or update to employees then a key component of its effectiveness is the timeliness. Sending out a message way after the issue has become known to employees loses impact and relevance. You lose the crucial first opportunity to shape and build understanding and minimise negativity and confusion.
If employees continually find out about important issues on the grapevine rather than through official internal communication, then they will switch off from what you are saying and they won’t come back.
3) Consistency and routine: At a previous organisation our comms team introduced a CEO blog to the intranet. This was only publicised via a panel on the homepage of the intranet, never via email or other means. BUT, our commitment was that the blog itself would be updated every Thursday afternoon. This approach was a huge success because it built a routine for employees to visit the intranet at that time of the week to read the latest blog. It built a trust between the CEO and employees that he was a consistent leader and he could be relied upon to deliver.
Not only that it also helped improve our general communications approach because our team knew we could launch other news stories on Thursday afternoons, confident that we could expect a high number of visitors to the intranet.
4) Leading by example: if employees can’t rely on timely communication from the top, they might they feel justified to deliver the same in return in their day-to-day work. Keeping to a schedule gives no greater indication to employees that ‘everything is under control’ at the top. This sense of order, consistency and routine will filter down through the ranks and will be returned in employee behaviour.
5) It’ll cost the business more money: Late or inconsistent internal communication leads to a number of direct and indirect costs to the business. Perhaps this is the most persuasive argument to put to your senior stakeholders. This can range from poor customer service being delivered because staff do not have a crucial product update, or extra charges levied by external design agencies for the extra work created.
Ultimately though, late and inconsistent internal communication causes lower employee engagement. And disengagement leads to the biggest cost to the business of all – less money on the bottom line. The correlation might not be there for the business to see straight away, but it will happen.
Remember, internal communication is just as important as any other part of the business. Our role is about empowering and engaging employees and that directly correlates to the success of a business. Stand your ground when it comes to getting your comms out on time – an IC deadline should by no less important than any other deadline.