Topic: Best Practices in Internal Communication
Author(s), Title and Publication
Young, M., & Post, J. E. (1993). Managing to communicate, communicating to manage: How leading companies communicate with employees. Organizational Dynamics, 22(1), 31-44.
This study is built on the idea that internal communication processes are an important ingredient in successful change, and understanding best practices in change communication can help organizations better manage the process. The researchers first surveyed several dozen communication and human resource managers at leading companies to generate a list of organizations with excellent employee communication programs. Ten of the companies on the list had successfully undergone recent major change programs. Researchers then visited each of the 10 companies and interviewed a range of senior executives and communicators involved in the change efforts. Two of the 10 companies were subsequently examined in greater depth.
The study confirmed that certain communication practices and characteristics improved the ability of senior management to effect large scale organizational change. Eight principles of effective internal communication during change management were identified. The most significant factor was the CEO’s leadership, both philosophical and behavioral commitments. Shared responsibility for communications also was a key principle; every manager is a communication manager. Other principles included: 1) Lived messages, or the match between words and actions, 2) a commitment to two-way communication, 3) an emphasis on face-to-face communication, 4) the willingness to share bad news as well as good news, 5) a clear focus on employees as customers and audience, and 6) a clear and compelling communication strategy that provides message context as well as content and helps align individual jobs with company objectives.
Neither the size of the communication budget nor the reporting relationship of the communication function influenced the effectiveness of employee communications. The researchers concluded that internal communications is a critical management process, not a set of products, and effective communication practices should be consistent under all organizational conditions.
Implications for Practice
The importance of each of the eight principles has been highlighted consistently in later studies of communication and change management. Practitioners may use each principle as a guideline for assessing and planning change communications, or for creating a rich communication climate.
Location of Article
The article is not available online. It may be obtained by request through university or public libraries.