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A good internal communications manager is like the strong engine of a train. The longer the train -- or larger the company -- the more powerful that manager-acting-as-engine needs to be. You will deftly use your skills to ensure each employee is up-to-date on critical information about the company so they can do their jobs while keeping the organization’s goals in sight. You will keep morale up with such simple things as making sure everyone is invited to a vice president’s birthday celebration or helping employees transition during downturns.
Naturally, as an internal communications manager you need communication skills, but chief among these is the ability to listen and an aptitude for writing. You need to consider diverse employee needs and tailor communication vehicles to their job duties. For example, a social media strategy may reach a certain percentage of employees while other employees eschew that involvement, preferring emails or e-newsletters. Plan on being a special events maven, whether it’s arranging the simple in-office birthday party or an elaborate annual corporate barbecue. Understand that you need to develop a communications plan replete with a goal, objectives, strategies and tactics designed to meet that goal. For example, you may want to see an increase in job satisfaction after acquiring another company, which can be measured by employee surveys. Anything haphazard will cost your organization precious time and money.
Motivation and Incentives
Internal communications managers frequently develop incentives and awards programs to recognize employees for outstanding contributions at work. These programs also motivate employees to reach personal and corporate goals, with such accomplishments communicated company-wide to motivate others. As a manager you will communicate how these accomplishments help the company as a whole so that they are embraced as organization rather than individual achievements. It’s also a good idea to devise similar programs for teams, either ad hoc for a specific project or departments.
Understanding Corporate Objectives
Don’t lose sight of how your internal communications duties should contribute to the organization’s bottom line. If you are successful in keeping employees motivated and feeling valued, your employer is less likely to experience employee turnover. This provides the company with a steadfastness and stability that organizations covet. It also makes it easier to recruit new talent.
It’s important you have the ability to get your organization’s executive leadership to communicate regularly, as well, so it’s not always coming from you. This way employees will feel more connected to the company’s mission. Schedules may not allow frequent personal company-wide meetings but you should encourage other forms of communication -- even social media.
You will typically need a bachelor’s degree to get a job as an internal communications manager. Common majors include speech, communications, public relations or journalism. If you have experience in a communications field your degree area will be less important. Similarly, if you have worked your way up the communications career ladder, employers may care less about your degree and more about your experience. Some corporate communications positions include internal communications functions among the required duties. In that case, you would take responsibility for communicating corporate messages to audiences outside the organization, as well.
Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.
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