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In general, internal communication refers to any kind of verbal and non-verbal communication between members of an organisation (Neuroni et al., 2008; Welch & Jackson, 2007). Furthermore, from a strategic perspective, internal communication can be defined as “communication between an organisation’s strategic managers and its internal stakeholders, designed to promote commitment to the organisation, a sense of belonging to it, awareness of its changing environment and understanding of its evolving aims” (Welch & Jackson, 2007).
Bill Quirke, one of leading authorities on internal communication, noted that “when employees understand their overall role in the business, 91 percent will work towards that success, but the number plummets to 23 percent if they don’t” (Quirke, 2008). This reflection shows that an effective internal communication strategy enables the business to secure the engagement of the employees and subsequently achieve success. A recent study from Towers Watson further supports the fact that internal communication is a key component to the business performance (Towers Watson, 2014). The study concludes that “companies with high effectiveness in change management and [internal] communication are three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform their industry peers than firms that are not effective in these areas” (Towers Watson, 2014).
In today’s world of constant change and evolution, organisations are recognising the need to reshape and strengthen their internal communication strategy and use it as a driver to adapt and manage the continuous change (Melcrum, 2014). Our study will try to examine to what extent the above paradigms apply to the specific context of Capital Horizons, a financial company in Mauritius.
Purpose and Objectives of the study
Our study will perform an internal communication audit of Capital Horizons, which is a systematic analysis of the all internal communication practices within the company, their alignment with the communication strategy and overall business strategies.
The internal communication audit of Capital Horizon will mainly focus on the below objectives:
- Identification of strengths and weakness of the company’s internal communication system
- Recommendations for improving the communication system at the company
What is internal communication?
In addition to the definitions of internal communication given in the introduction above, there are many other concurrent definitions from scholars and professional in the field of internal communication. One of the most famous definition cited numerous time is that from Frank and Brownell who define it as “the communications transactions between individuals and/or groups at various levels and in different areas of specialisation that are intended to design and redesign organisations, to implement designs, and to co-ordinate day-to-day activities” (Frank & Brownell, 1989).
Rachel Miller, from allthingsic.com, has a more simplistic definition of internal communication as “communication inside an organisation between a company and its audiences.” The internal audiences of a company would include all the stakeholders within the company such as those inferred from Frank and Brownell’s definition of internal communication (Frank & Brownell, 1989), that is, the employees, the supervisors, the different levels of managers, the executives and c-level executives. In fact, Welch & Jackson categorise the stakeholders of internal communication into four interrelated dimensions, which are “internal line manager communication, internal team communication, internal peer project communication and internal corporate communication” (Welch & Jackson, 2007).
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Internal communication can be mainly categorised in two forms. The first form is managed communication which is the formal communication channels between the management and the employees. The second form, commonly referred to as “grapevine”, is the informal communication that takes place among colleagues at the workplace (Welch & Jackson, 2007).
What is an internal communication audit?
Katlin Smith, from Urban Words Group, simply describes an internal communication audit as an exercise that would answer two questions, which are “What are you communicating?” and “Are you communications effective?” (Smith, 2014). This implies that the audit will set the basis for a SWOT analysis of the internal communications practice of an organisation and in fact, a SWOT is the eight step in Katlin Smith’s Ten Steps for Conducting a communications audit (Smith, 2014).
Bob Bullen from Edelman, together with his research group, has “identified three key steps organizations can take when reviewing their internal communications channels” which are “Examine any existing research”, “Collect primary quantitative research” and “Conduct primary qualitative research”. These steps demonstrate that internal communication audit is similar to any conventional audit, that is, it is a systematic analysis or survey. The difference in this case is that the audit would be examining the data about the internal communication channels and practices and not financial data.
Why is internal communication important?
As mentioned in the introduction above, there is seems to be a correlation between employee engagement and effective internal communication as pointed out by Bill Quirke in his book “Making the Connections” (Quirke, 2008). Towers Watson in its latest editions of its “Change and Communication ROI Study Report” notes that there is a “continued strong relationship between superior financial performance and effective communication” (Towers Watson, 2014). This conclusion is further expanded as part of the introduction above. Meldrum recent “Agility: Special Report” demonstrate also that there is a close relationship between how a company embraces change and how effective its internal communication is. The report argues that internal communication practices should adapt rapidly or rather be “agile” in order to meet the needs of the “faster and more complex” “global marketplace” (Meldrum, 2014).
Through the above points, we can understand that internal communication if done effectively can result in employees being more engaged thus resulting in more productivity from their part and ultimately to better performance of the company as a whole. We further collect that effective internal communication is a key for a company to successfully embrace and manage changes in its internal and external environments.
What are the key trends in internal communication?
Social Media is currently the buzz-word around many circles including internal communication. In its 2013 “Change and Communication ROI Study Report”, Towers Watson notes that “the best organizations are building a sense that all employees are in it together, sharing both the challenges and rewards of working” (Towers Watson, 2013). This refers directly to social media and the fact that successful companies are seizing the opportunity presented by new technologies to “build [a] community” of employees in order to be closer to them. Although “social media is an effective way to build community”, the report however notes that only a little more than half of the companies surveyed are making use of this tool (Towers Watson, 2013).
Tom Hank, from the HR Trend Institute, foresees ten ways that internal communication will change (Hank, 2014). Some of his points also re-join the trends of using social media and technology more. He also argues that internal communication would become more “open multi way”, that is, “more and more transparency” in the communication between management and employees (Hank, 2014).
As noted by many recent studies, (e.g. Meldrum, 2014; Towers Watson, 2013, Rima, 2014), internal communicators will be taking more visible in the organisation in contrast to traditionally being behind the scene. The studies noted also that there would be a need to measure the value that internal communication is bringing to the organisation so as to constantly assess it alignment to the business objectives.
To be completed.
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