3 Ways to Build a Proactive Internal Communications Habit

June 1, 2022

With more than 40 million copies sold in 40 languages around the world, Stephen Covey’s book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” has solidified its place as an essential read — and for good reason.

The net-net, Covey’s book argues that effective people share similar habits and principles, which he summarized in seven key tenants. As internal communications professionals, we know we have to do amazing work, but we also have to be as effective as possible to get things done.

Sure, being effective helps our careers, but it ultimately benefits the employees we serve and their work experiences as well. It’s a pretty big deal.  

While all seven habits are worth a read, let’s discuss the first, “Be Proactive,” and how we can implement that habit in our day-to-day.  

Be proactive

This habit centers around the idea of personal responsibility. This means recognizing that we are fully accountable for our actions and decisions. As the FranklinCovey website notes, “Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control.”

So, what can we control as internal communicators? Here are three ideas to consider:

1. Make a plan for your plan

Before the pandemic, most internal communicators had a lot on their plates. It’s safe to say that COVID-19 forced many companies and communicators to be in a constant state of reaction to a rapidly-shifting world. But as we adjust to the new normal, we have an opportunity to prepare ourselves and our company for what’s next. We’re going to be thrown curveballs, but what do we know today? Where can we try to plan? We can ask:

  • What learnings can we take from the pandemic to develop a clear plan and process for urgent communications? Or sensitive communications? Or communications where we don’t have enough information?  
  • What worked well? What didn’t?  
  • How can things generally run smoother or more efficiently next time?  

🎬 Take Action: Try documenting how you and your team will work together to address whatever may arise next. The goal is to take what we’ve learned from COVID-19 and create well-documented processes for future communications.  

🙋Need Help? As our Head of Operations once said, “Processes are our love language.” We can help you strategize and document who’s responsible for communication creation, review, distribution and more. As James Clear, bestselling author of “Atomic Habits” notes, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”  

2. Seek Out Employee Research Data

Struggling with content engagement issues? The good news is we don’t have to guess why folks aren’t engaging with our content. We can ask! How about a communications preferences survey? We can uncover key preferences related to senders, channels and topics!  

🎬 Take Action: If it’s been more than a year since your last employee communication preferences survey, now’s the time to get that survey out.

🙋 Need Help? Did you know we have a dedicated research team that can help consult on your survey strategy, outreach, question architecture, analysis and findings presentation? Yes. Yes, we do. Reach out for more information or check out our research resources on our website.

3. Learn About the Latest Trends

As communicators, we’re lifelong learners. The world of work is constantly shifting, employee preferences and expectations shift with it, and best practices change over time. It can be hard to keep up!

Here you’ll find several great newsletters, blogs, podcasts and resources that support our continuous learning.

  • The Inkwell newsletter: A monthly newsletter from Brilliant Ink, featuring a roundup of the latest articles, news, conferences, podcasts and more!
  • All Things IC blog and podcast: Created by the highly sought-after Rachel Miller, All Things IC is one of our favorite places to gain inspiration and learn practical internal communication ideas and strategies.
  • Say This, Not That: A DEI Style Guide to Inclusive Communications: Communicators know that words matter. This style guide provides tips and best practices to aid you on your journey to communicating more inclusively!
  • Staffbase’s Comms-unity Slack group: An exclusive, global community for internal communication professionals to network, share expertise and grow.  
  • The Future of Work Resource Center: The new normal is here, but many companies are still solidifying what the future of work means for their company and people. This curated list of resources will help keep you up to date on what’s next.
  • Workplace Diversity, Anti-Racism and Allyship Resource Center: A curated set of resources that provide helpful information on inequality, bias, allyship, and diversity, equity, and inclusion communications.  
  • Internal Comms Pro blog and podcast If you’re looking for relevant expert articles and in-depth communication tips and strategies, the IC Pro team’s content is for you! The podcast will save you time as it empowers you to exchange ideas, stay current on the latest best practices, and raise awareness about your value as an internal communication professional!

🎬 Take Action: Stay current on the latest trends and thought leadership by making time to pull your head up from the latest emergency and invest in your ongoing learning. The employees you serve will thank you.

🙋 Need Help? We know how hard being an internal communicator can be, but being proactive also means not giving in to the pressure to boil the ocean or take on too much. We’re here to help with big thinking or tactical support whenever you need us.  

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest!

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