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Center Ideas: Improving Internal Communications Can Support Rapid Change and Organizational Success

The Region 5 Comprehensive Center offers the second blog in a three-part series on communications services and support for state and local education agencies.


 

I am frequently asked, “How can we improve communications?” My response is always the same. “Begin with research and internal communications to build the foundation for a comprehensive plan.”

The first step in communications planning is researching what’s working and where the gaps are. A nonpunitive communications audit can identify current practices, tools, and outcomes supported by conclusions and recommendations for improvement that leaders can use to develop a comprehensive, strategic communications plan. Once you’ve done your research, working from the inside out is imperative to improve communications overall. 

Have you ever been in a meeting and heard someone say, “Let me check on that. The right hand may not know what the left hand is doing.”? Communication gaps are common in organizations, including state agencies and school districts, but a solution exists. Start with an internal communications plan to increase employee engagement and develop a mutually beneficial process for sharing and receiving information. It is an ideal strategy for making rapid changes and driving organizational improvement and success. 

Investing time in creating an internal communications plan based on research used to develop strategies, tactics, norms, and routines can ensure everyone from entry-level employees to middle managers, chiefs, and the superintendent can receive and share critical information and the updates needed to deliver on the core mission of supporting student achievement.

Most communications plans follow a process known by the acronym RPIE (Research, Planning, Implementation, Evaluation). The essential components of an internal communications plan should include:

 


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    Research

    Documenting the current situation, processes, tools, tactics, internal audiences, and formal and informal feedback.

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    Planning

    Building an internal communications plan to include a 12-month calendar,
    strategies, channels, activities, and routines.

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    Implementation

    Articulating overarching messages, sharing information, inviting feedback, and receiving and acting upon employee feedback and insights.

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    Evaluation

    Measuring results, the effectiveness of internal communications, and short- and long-term improvements.


 

For leaders, internal communications can limit surprises and increase transparency and employee engagement. Effective internal communications also establish a process for gathering the information and ideas needed for proactive public awareness campaigns and well-informed responses to stakeholders, the media, and other external audiences.

Finally, Region 5 Comprehensive Center works collaboratively with state and local partners to solve complex problems in changing environments, including communications and outreach efforts to support an agency, office, or initiative. We design support to build the capacity of current staff members and provide strategies, research, and tools to sustain the work moving forward. We can also arrange peer-to-peer conversations and introduce you to state and national partners to expand your support network and share your solutions. 

 

For more information and resources, contact the Region 5 Comprehensive Center team.