Internal communication research papers

Bill Quirke [5] offers a simplistic guide; See Weick [11] for some theoretical grounds for this basic insight. A typical large organisation IC function will be concerned to monitor and limit the quantity of information flowing through each internal channel, prioritising according to the relevance of a given message to the audience implicated in that channel, as well as the urgency and impact of the message.

Such organisations typically face a risk that channels such as intranet news, or email are over-used for inappropriate, low value messages, causing vital audience groups to filter them out.


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IC teams will often but not always hold responsibility for the administration and development of several of the organisation's communications channels. The range of media available is wide - and growing fast with new electronic media.

Initially, IC tends to focus on the existing resources of the organization, typically an intranet , email distributions, and newsletters. One common element of channel development and administration involves managing supplier relationships - agencies external to the organization typically specialise in one main channel area, such as audiovisual, or print production. Sending information down the line to local supervisors, expecting them to deliver it without any corruption, interpretation or deviation has long been the main focus of 'cascaded' internal communications for example, UK guidance from The Industrial Society, now the Work Foundation , focused on giving managers very clear instructions about what to say and how to say it.

However, in recent years thinking has evolved and literature now concentrates on empowering managers to facilitate discussion rather than cascade management of messages which will have little authority or impact. This is a particularly strong theme in the writing of TJ and Sandar Larkin. Employee communication is an important skill for all line managers, irrespective of their seniority. Like any skill it requires training and development.

Often, organisations do not invest the appropriate amount of time and effort in developing managers' communications skills. Too often this leads to managers abdicating responsibility for communications to their 'internal communications department' and a lack of confidence in facilitating discussion in their teams.

Poor Internal Communication Can Be a Costly Mistake for Businesses – Workforce

This raises debate around the following issues:. FitzPatrick and Valskov argue that strong manager communication systems attempt to address five essential issues:.

Social media is becoming increasingly discussed in the field of internal communication. However, there is little documented, academic evidence of where it is being used successfully as part of a planned campaign of employee communications, and it is often confused with digital media. There are case studies published on a number of commercial websites including www. Since , several communication technologies usually classified as workplace group chat apps or collaborative software have emerged.

Basic IC services to an organization begin with editorial services - either fine-tuning messages drafted by participants in the organization, or drafting new material on their behalf. IC practitioners might simply correct basic grammar, etc. Or they might re-work it to conform to house style or its branded equivalent, 'tone of voice'. The skillset involved relates closely to media professions such as journalism , copywriting and film or print production. Message design may be iterative, or involve a range of participants in an approvals process.

IC practitioners may be seconded to a specific project team, to support the stages of the project that carry a communications or engagement component. They might also contribute to the project's aggregate risks 'log' on the reputational risks, and work-up contingency plans covering unintended situations.

Most writers on the subject of communications talk about the idea of change. Most intentional communication takes place with the aim of effecting some kind of change or another.

The Impact of Internal Communication on Employee Performance in an Organization

However, many practitioners in internal communications make a distinction between change and transformation. Drawing on the work of writers such as William Bridges, practitioners talk of 'change' as the act of altering something within an organisation such as the introduction of a new IT system or the closure of an office and they describe 'transition' as the process through which an individual passes as part of the process of coping with change.

The use of the two terms interchangeably causes some confusion. Communicators who specialise in change communications tend to be interested in behaviour change and will draw heavily on psychological models. There are important contributions made to the debate about practice in this area by Herrero [14] and Quike. Organizations occasionally face unplanned reputational crises which can destroy brand value or even finish the organization. At such moments, the support of the internal constituency becomes especially valuable, as employees' friends and relatives seek their account of events, and as talented and motivated participants consider whether or not to remain with the organization.

As with media relations and PR , the role IC plays in a crisis can be decisive for the success or failure of an organization, as it responds to a critical challenge. Organizations with a mature IC function may have contingency planning in place, ready to be tailored to the particulars of the situation. They are also more likely to have 'well flexed', well-rehearsed line management communications capability, making crisis communications more effective.

How to Improve Internal Communication in Your Company

Less mature IC functions may find it difficult to bring senior leaders' attention to the internal audience, when critical stakeholders such as investors or customers appear more likely to desert the organization. Although unplanned and usually under-resourced, the quality of an IC function's response in a crisis often has a decisive impact in the maturing of an IC function within an organization. Effective responses bring IC up the list of priorities for senior leaders, following the crisis.

In common with the Ulrich model for human resources practice, IC may be delivered via a 'business partnering' relationship, acting as adviser to a given function or unit on IC issues relevant to the delivery of their strategic plans and projects.

Organizational Communication Topics

As a representative of the audiences with a stake in the developments under discussion, this can be both an awkward and a privileged position to occupy, requiring skills of diplomacy and objectivity. There is not yet a globally recognised internal communication qualification, though various training courses and formal qualifications have been established to create and maintain standards. In the UK, the accreditation bodies representing the profession offer competing qualifications.

The UK's Chartered Institute of Public Relations offers training and qualifications in internal communications including Diploma and Certificate courses. In Asia, internal communications is still a very nascent field with few specialists in more developed economies such as Singapore and Hong Kong, some accredited by the Singapore Business Advisors and Consultants Council. IC may variously be referred to as: employee communications, employee engagement , employee relations , internal marketing, company communications, staff communication.

Responsibility for IC may sit within various established functions, including marketing , corporate communications , transformation, HR and the CEO office. Internal communications functions can require several skills, e. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Companies might be very good at communicating with suppliers and customers; however, they often fail to give the same degree of attention to their internal communications.

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This is often a detrimental move as the company does not work towards a common goal but rather everyone in the company works towards his or her own goal which might bring confusion to the organization or company. There is a need for communication flow between people who are coordinating projects and the managers in order to ensure the success of a business Morales, There is also a need for communication between those who manage a business and the people they manage.

There are several methods of internal communication. This paper will discuss some of these methods and outline their pros and cons.

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A lot of communication that takes place in every organization follows a common pattern, a common sense of approach, which involves a chain of command from the executive officers to the front lines. Most organizations use a form of communication which follows an up and down vertical pattern. Downward communication often starts with the top management and trickles down through to the management levels to line workers as well as non supervisory personnel Stephenson, Rules and mandates come down from the top leadership of the organization and trickle down to the front line supervisors eventually reaching the workers.

The purpose of an organization operating with a vertical communications system is to ensure that there is a control of information as well as decision making Kappas, Upward communication, on the other hand, involves the flow of information from the workers up the chain to the top personnel of the organization.

The function of upward communication is to ensure that there is a supply of information to the uppermost levels of the company in order for them to understand what is going on in the lower levels of the organizations.


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This type of communication often includes explanations, requests for aid, progress reports or even at times suggestions Guffey, Vertical communication has several advantages. First of all, the communication channels throughout the whole organization get strengthened. The top management often entrusts works to the subordinates, and he or she acts as a guide and mentor to the lower workers of an organization.

When a subordinate is in doubt, he or she approaches a superior for explanations as well as clarifications Fransson, Secondly, vertical communication systems can be said to be extremely feedback oriented. The hierarchical levels in the organization interact with each other, and they discuss matters pertaining to the organization Dohen, The vertical communication system also helps in the establishment of chains of command in the organization; it helps the employees to understand who their superiors are and to respect them.

On the other hand, the superiors understand who is accountable to them Berger, Therefore, if work does not proceed according to the set standards and targets, the top management knows whom to question or reprimand. Although vertical communication is used in most organizations, it still has its disadvantages. The main disadvantage of this method is the fact that information is often filtered as it moves up and down in the chain of command Pierce, This often waters down the message or even at times there is a change in the nature of the information.