Internal Communication Toolkit

Overview
Welcome to this toolkit on developing an internal communication strategy for your organisation. The aim of the toolkit is to help organisations to improve their efficiency and effectiveness through the creation of internal communication processes that create a cohesive organisational culture. Civil society organisations are focused on specific issues, on improving situations and having a real impact in addressing the many challenges facing the world. Often, the focus is so exclusively on what is going on ‘out there’ that very little attention is given to what is going on within the organisation. Communicating and sharing information with colleagues is overlooked as everyone concentrates on getting work done and achieving the organisation’s objectives. Within communication strategies, internal communication is often overlooked, yet it is vitally important. It is the communication that relates directly to the foundation of your organisation: the people – staff, management and volunteers – that give your organisation its ability to function. Developing sound internal communication processes and evaluating these processes on a regular basis is the same as making sure your car runs smoothly and is serviced regularly. If the many different pieces of your car do not fit smoothly together, you will not get where you are going very quickly, if you get there at all. Similarly, if the people that make up your organisation do not work together effectively, your organisation will not achieve its objectives as fast, if at all. An internal communication strategy is the key to ensuring a cohesive organisation focused on achieving its goals and objectives. Your internal communication strategy should emerge from, and be guided by, your organisation’s overall strategic plan. This is because strategic internal communication is simply a step towards helping your organisation achieve its aims more effectively. Improving your internal communication requires careful thought, creativity and detailed planning. As well, monitoring and evaluation must be built into your plan. As your internal communication plan should be integrated within your organisation’s overall structure and strategic plan, you may find these other CIVICUS toolkits (available at www.civicus.org) useful in starting the planning process: Strategic planning Overview of planning Monitoring and evaluation Budgeting Action planning CIVICUS also offers two toolkits to assist your internal written communication: ‘Writing effectively and powerfully,’ and ‘Writings within your organisation’. In addition, the following three toolkits will help you plan your external communication, which should be done in conjunction with your internal communication plan: Promoting your organisation Producing your own media Handling the media We refer to these toolkits and sections within them throughout this toolkit. Note: this toolkit focuses primarily on staff-management communication and not inter-management, staff/management-board or inter-board communication. In addition several important and in many cases sensitive issues such as change management, social exclusion, harassment and multi-cultural communication are not discussed in detail. This toolkit should be taken only as an introduction to internal communication and not a complete guide to all the issues that arise in this area.
Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.org)

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Internal Communication Toolkit
Site Map – Internal Communication Toolkit
Overview References and Resources (At the end of the toolkit) Appendix A: Sample Internal Communication Survey Appendix B: Sample Internal Communication Strategy

Introduction What is internal communication? How significant is internal communication? What are some of the benefits of effective internal communication? What are the main principles of effect internal communication?

The Process

Tools and Tactics In person Notices and publications Information and Communication technologies Limitations of tools and tactics

Case Study Getting to know the organisation Developing the strategy Next steps

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Taking a close look at your organisation -

Developing a strategy

Monitoring and evaluation

What are your mission, - Determine your goals, and values? goal - What is your - Define your organisation’s objectives structure? - Identify your key - Who makes up your messages organisation? - Define your - What characterises audience your organisation’s - Identify tools and culture? tactics - What communication - Develop an tools does your implementation organisation have? plan - What are your internal - Finalise your strategy communication needs? - How do you answer Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Humethese questions? (Please email feedback to info@civicus.org)

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Internal Communication Toolkit
Who will find this toolkit useful?

This toolkit will be useful for all organisations that want to improve their internal communication. In particular, it will be useful for those organisations that want to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their organisation by creating increased cohesion among staff, management and volunteers. In addition, the toolkit also offers food for thought and some tips for organisations that may already feel that they have effective internal communication process but want to ensure that these are maintained and utilised consistently.

A brief description of the toolkit

This toolkit offers you an opportunity to think hard about whether your organisation needs to improve its internal communication. If you decide you need to, it offers practical guidance on how to do it. On this site you will find: Introduction Here we look at what internal communication is, why it is important and the benefits of having effective internal communication. In addition, we discover some of the key principles of successful internal communication. The strategic internal communication process Here we look at the three steps in the strategic internal communication process: taking a close look at your organisation, developing and implementing a strategy and monitoring and evaluation. We discuss the questions you need to ask of your organisation before you develop an internal communication plan and how to go about finding the answers. Then we go step-by-step through the process of developing an internal communication plan and implementing it. Finally, we discuss the need for monitoring and evaluation the process in order to ensure that it achieves the desired goals and adapts to meet changing circumstances and needs. Tools and Tactics Here we discuss the different tools and tactics that you can use to improve internal communication. Tactics can use tools that require face to face meetings, written notices and publication or information and communication technologies. We discuss the benefits of each type and elaborate on some of the different tactics that can be used. Finally, we highlight some of the limitations of tools and tactics in general Case Study: Building a cohesive organisation Based on a real experience, this case study looks at how one organisation undertook the strategic internal communication process. Particular attention is paid to how the organisation adapted the process to meet its own circumstances and needs.

Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.org)

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Internal Communication Toolkit
Introduction

What is internal communication?

Internal communication does not refer only to those few “official” channels of communication within your organisation, such as internal newsletters, notice boards or staff meetings. It is not a process that goes from the top, the Chief, to the bottom, the intern. Rather, internal communication refers to the almost constant interactions within your organisation that convey meaning. Therefore, internal communication encompasses both overt communication like meetings, memos etc, and more casual forms of communication such as gossip, pleasantries and body language.

How significant is internal communication?

Internal communication is significant in any organisation because it is the building block of the organisational culture. The organisational culture is the atmosphere of the organisation based on its values, mission and work processes. When every member of the organisation holds the same values, understands the work policies and procedures in the same way, and is focused on the same mission, the organisational culture promotes much more effective use of resources then under a culture that is more diffuse in its interpretation. Within the non-governmental community, internal communication and its effects on organisational culture is just as important as in the corporate sector, perhaps even more so. Just because your organisation has what you believe to be a clear mission, based on basic values of human dignity and human rights, does not mean that all members of your organisation interpret that mission and those values in the same manner. Example: An adult literacy organisation has a mission to “assist disadvantaged adults obtain their high school diplomas.” The executive director of the organisation assumes that to be illiterate is to be disadvantaged, and therefore sees the organisation as assisting all illiterate adults. Meanwhile, a project manager interprets disadvantaged as having something in addition to being illiterate, such as a learning disability and/or substance abuse problem. Therefore, in designing and implementing a project, the manager carefully targets a select group of people who have these problems. The executive director is then left wondering why the organisation is not achieving the goals she or he has set for it. Within this hypothetical organisation, there is no communally held interpretation of the organisation’s mission. The executive director and the project manager may not necessarily be working at cross-purposes, but they are not working as effectively together as they could be. Effective internal communication can ensure that all members of an organisation are working towards a common goal and assisting each other effectively.

What are some of the benefits of effective internal communication?

When your organisation is communicating effectively with its internal stakeholders, whether they are employees, management or volunteers, it develops a cohesive culture where everyone is focused on the same goals and has the same objectives. By working within a cohesive culture, your stakeholders can work more efficiently together and collaborate more effectively. Some specific benefits that can result from effective internal communication include: • Employees can make more decisions themselves since they have the tools and knowledge to know the "right" decisions in line with the organisation’s goals;
Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.org)

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Internal Communication Toolkit
Staff can identify better with the goals, mission and procedures of the organisation, which can result in a sense of "making a difference" and increase effort and efficiency; • Programmes and departments share more resources and information resulting in less duplication of work and stronger impact as a whole organisation • Day-to-day conflict can be reduced since a lot of conflict is the result of conflicting ideas on what is important to the organization; Although effective internal communication may not bring about all of these results for all organisations, it can go a long way towards building an organisational culture where people work together effectively towards a common goal. •

What are the main principles of effective internal communication?

Unlike with external communication, organisations often fail to strategically plan their internal communication. In other words, internal communication is usually either arbitrary or incomplete and if planned, tends to be planned only in reaction to specific events (downsizing for example). However, effective internal communication is planned, not only to deal with specific issues, but for the long-term well-being of the organisation. Some basic principles to keep in mind when creating your strategic internal communication plan are: Develop a long-term focus Identify clear values for your organisation Define the specific goals for your internal communication strategy Use comprehensive, pervasive methods Be consistent in your messages The rest of this tool kit will guide you through the step-by-step process of developing a strategic internal communication plan that is based on these principles.

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What are your internal communication needs? Finally. What characterises your organisational culture and internal communication? Identifying organisation’s culture can be a difficult task as it is not easy to pin-down. This will vary considerably from organisation to organisation. it is useful to look at the current state of internal communication. you will need to identify where your organisation’s internal communication needs improvement. It is likely that you will find that your organisation has a number of areas where internal Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. gender and cultural diversity of the organisation. The following are some questions you should consider: How familiar are staff with the missions and goals of the organisation? How are decisions made in your organisation? Do staff have the ability to make necessary decisions to do their jobs effectively? How is information shared between staff? What is the primary form of communication? How formal is internal communication? Do staff interact on a social level? What communication tools are used within your organisation? It is important to establish which tools staff and management are currently using to communicate amongst themselves and with each other. your organisation should first develop a strategic plan.org) 6 . Resource: CIVICUS Strategic Planning Toolkit can help you with this process. you will be able to identify potential tools that are missing or that are underused for some reason but which may have the potential to address a need. one organisation may not effectively communicate board decisions to all staff while another may not inform the board effectively on programme outputs. part-time. volunteers? Who sits on your board of directors? How are they related to the organisation or the organisation’s mandate? Where do staff work? At a central office? At home? On site? In satellite offices across the country or around the globe? Who makes up your organisation? Here you would identify not the structure of the organisations (the positions) but the make-up (the actual people). To assist in this task. If you organisation does not have a mission or goals. For example. What is your organisation’s structure? Here you should look at how your organisation is structured. You would want to identify the age. Some questions to consider are: How many people comprise your management team? How does this compare to the number of staff? What type of staff do you have? Are most people full-time.Internal Communication Toolkit The Process Taking a close look at your organisation The first step for an internal communication plan is the same as for an external communication plan. You must start by taking a good hard look at your organisation. In so doing. The following is a list of questions that you should answer before developing an internal communication plan: What are your organisations mission and goals? These should be specific and clearly defined.

Determine your goal Here you should identify what is the overarching goal for your internal communication strategy. Note that while they are described as steps.’ Similarly. 1. Define your objectives Your objectives differ from your goal in that they are more specific and measurable. Tool: Appendix A provides a sample staff survey. the message does not have to be explicit in every communication. In selecting your objectives. However. some of the answers to these questions will be obvious whereas others may be much more difficult to uncover. rather. mission and values and of its key organisational developments. and their varying level of importance. make sure that you pay close attention to those shortcomings in your internal communications that were identified when you took a close look at your organisation. Depending on the size of your organisation and its organisational culture. 3. you can start developing a strategy. as you strive to improve the internal communication processes. It should answer the question: “What do want your organisation to look like in the future?” Example of a goal: To ensure that individuals/departments within the organisation have access to all the information they require to make informed decisions and maximise their output. you could consider raising these questions in an all-staff meeting. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. or you find that staff do not feel comfortable speaking about these issues in large groups. it could be something as simple as ‘it is important that the staff is aware of how the organisation is moving forward. if your organisation is larger. These messages do not have to be complex. Identify your key messages While the millions of formal and informal communications that take place within your organisation on an annual basis do not all carry the same messages. of the communication should imply the message. each step would also form a section of your strategy. Developing a strategy Now that you are familiar with the characteristics of your organisation. These needs. your work. will directly inform your internal communication strategy. the context. and should all build towards your goal. 2. you can consider several tactics to uncover the information you need to know. If you organisation is small and has a culture that allows for open and frank discussion. medium. Example of an objective: Ensure that all staff is aware of the organisation’s vision. you could consider holding small focus groups or administering a staff survey.org) 7 . The information you uncovered in the previous section should and will inform all the decisions that you make with regards to the different sections of your strategy. with some being more important than others. How do you answer these questions? In taking a closer look at your organisation.Internal Communication Toolkit communication can be improved. should strive to convey a few key messages. frequency etc. This sample provides a starting point to create a survey that meets the particular circumstances of your organisation. The following are the necessary steps in this process.

rather the communiqué should encourage staff to send back their comments and concerns.’ Knowing whether your audience are paid staff or volunteers. Meanwhile. whether in terms of staff time or money. A following section in this toolkit will provide a potential list of tools and tactics that you could consider using. but rather a specific action that someone can take to achieve a particular aim. to Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. however. 5. a tool is a medium of communication. Example: ‘Share board decisions with staff’ is NOT a tactic – ‘provide an overview of board decisions at monthly staff meeting’ is a tactic. Example: Email is a tool while sending out the minutes from management meetings using email is a tactic. among other factors. Define your audience Based on what you learned when you took a close look at your organisation. 4. that your organisation simply does not have the resources. you can select several of the best available tactics for implementation. This will allow you to better identify the best tactics to reach your particular audience.’ This message does not need to be explicitly stated in a communiqué to staff. Do not choose a tactic. it is important to be creative and try to come up with as many tools as possible.org) 8 . or several tactics. In other words. regular post and many more. When selecting a tactic it is important to not only consider the audience but also to focus on your objectives. while a tactic is the manner in which you use the tool. In putting together this list. Note that it is important that your tactics are realistic. Having a clear picture of your audience is particularly important when you come to the next section of your toolkit ‘Identifying tools and tactics. telephone. This list could include things like email. there are several things you must keep in mind when selecting the tools and tactics you will use. The audience is the key factor when you select those tools that are available to you and therefore your list of tools should be cross-checked to make sure that it is appropriate for the characteristics of your audience.Internal Communication Toolkit Example: A key message could be ‘Staff input in management decisions and organisation direction is valued and important. The tactics you identify need to be very specific actions. will all have a profound impact on the tactics you can use to communicate with them. Once this is done. newsletters. have access to the internet or email on a regular basis. a tactic is not a general statement of something that needs to be done. To start. face-to-face staff meetings are obviously not going to work for staff who are not based in a central office. the instrument that you can use to reach your audience. you should be able to provide a pretty accurate description of what your internal audience looks like. It may be useful to first create a list of all the tools that are available to you to reach your specific audience. Example: Email is not an appropriate tool for an organisation whose staff/volunteers have no or irregular access to the internet. A useful way to identify potential tactics is to take each objective separately and brainstorm as many different ways you can use the tools available to you to achieve your objective. located in a central office or dispersed around the world. Identify tools and tactics It is here that you actually identify how you are going to communicate with your audience.

the time has come to turn words into action! Tool: Appendix B is a sample internal communication strategy. If you are conducting a survey or focus groups as part of the ‘taking a close look at your organisation’ process. Depending on the size and structure of your organisation. you need to control this process and set deadlines for when people need to get back to you. Example: Producing and mailing (regular post being the tool) a quarterly twelve page print newsletter that provides all the details on staff movement. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. an internal communication strategy requires continual evaluation and up-dates. it would be more effective to send brief letters with the key information every other month. Similarly. Rather. Develop an implementation plan Here is where you get into the detail: who is going to do what and when? For each tactic you have selected. Finalise the strategy Once you have completed these six steps and have put together a complete internal communication strategy. this may mean circulating the strategy to staff for comment or simply discussing it with a few key people. should not) be the responsibility of one person or department. Often. but that does not mean that your work is done and you can file your strategy away.Internal Communication Toolkit complete. it is again very important to make sure that tactics and their implementation are selected in consultation with the staff and management of your organisation. evaluate and update You may have completed and implemented your internal communication strategy. you need to identify whose responsibility it is to complete it and a timeframe for its completion (or a schedule if it is a regular task). It is often better to implement one or two very simple tactics than to select one grand tactic or many little ones that your organisation simply cannot complete. make sure that seeking recommendations for specific tactics is part of the process. However. Note that all the tactics will not necessarily be completed by the communication or human resources department (if your organisation is large enough to have one) or by just one person. Once this process is complete and you have received the approval you need. While this strategy can be used as a guide for your strategy. it will need to be modified to meet the specific needs and objectives of your organisation. do not automatically incorporate all comments into the strategy if they do not take into account many of the issues that have been discussed above.org) 9 . as many people as possible should be asked to recommend ways to achieve the objectives as this is the best way to identify creative tactics that are realistic in terms of the organisations resources. As this is the case. Monitor. 6. current projects and the organisation’s strategic direction may ensure that you achieve your objective. Rather consider all comments and modify the strategy to best address the issues raised while maintaining a realistic implementation plan. if your organisation realistically only has the resources to produce this newsletter once a year. with some being the responsibility of management and others of specific staff members. different tactics will be completed by different people. In either case. 7. As with any organisation or communication strategy. IMPORTANT: Identifying and selecting tools and tactics does not have to (and in fact. you will need to collect feedback from others in your organisation and finalise the strategy.

Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. such as through general observations and casual conversations. This can be done informally. you must regularly evaluate whether your tactics are actually helping you achieve your objectives and your overall goal. This may mean modifying the tactics that you are using or developing new objectives. or formally such as through a staff survey and discussion groups.org) 10 . Following the evaluation process is the updating phase. This will allow you to see whether any areas have improved. It may become apparent that one of the main problem areas has improved immensely but that one of the positive areas is now having considerable problems. you should implement an annual evaluation process to determine the progress being made towards your goal. you must monitor the implementation of your strategy. you should consider conducting a similar survey one year later. and making any adjustments necessary to achieve this. a formal review process should be completed on a yearly basis to ensure that the strategy evolves to meet the current needs of the organisation. In any case. you will need to update it to address the issues. Second.Internal Communication Toolkit To start with. As you identify problems with your strategy. Example: If you conducted a staff survey prior to completing a strategy. Again. while changes can be made throughout the year. This means making sure that your tactics are being implemented on time and as planned.

When establishing a recognition programme. In particular. In addition. although by no means complete. Individual meetings: Individual meetings are a good tool when you need to communicate sensitive issues. in-person communication can also be more informal and have more social aspects then many other forms. training needs or other behavioural issues are often best dealt with on an individual basis. sub-par performance. Other disadvantages is that it can be a timeconsuming form of communication. while a tactic is the manner in which you use the tool. provide staff with an overview of the organisation’s strategic plan. all staff meetings can be an ideal way to communicate key information to staff. and then provided a number of different tactics that can be undertaken using that tool. These meetings can be used to communicate updates from different programmes and departments. Issues to do with continued employment. innovative ideas etc. success in a project. face-to-face meetings allow for the discussion of sensitive issues that require more subtlety because the use of body language and other social conventions are visible. a tool is a medium of communication. Finally staff meetings can include team building activities and other training exercises to improve the functioning of your organisation. In-person communication is the ideal tool for holding discussions on important issues and getting feedback from your audience.org) 11 . welcome new staff and say farewell to staff who are leaving. In addition. you must first consider what it is you want to recognise: length of service. In-person communication Advantages: In-person communication has the advantage that it is personal. staff may not be honest in their communications because they can not be anonymous and therefore may feel ‘unsafe’ and they may not want to loose face. Disadvantages: The main disadvantage of in-person communication is that your audience must be physically present in one location. the instrument that you can use to reach your audience. list of tools and tactics you can consider using to improve the internal communication at your organisation. High morale translates into dedicated staff who are more efficient and effective in their work. The following is an extensive. direct and conducive to two-way communication. Recognition programmes: Recognising the contribution and achievement of staff is a key part of ensuring a high morale in the workplace. we have listed its advantages and disadvantages. In addition. Sample Tools and Tactics All staff meetings: If your organisation is not too big. You must also decide whether you want to give out monthly awards or have a yearly programme. and share management and board decisions. Office politics can also often play a large role in in-person communication and can therefore provide additional complications to tactics that use this medium. For each tool. will there be prizes or is it Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. staff meetings can be the perfect place to seek feedback from staff and discuss important issues.Internal Communication Toolkit Tools and Tactics As mentioned above.

printing and disseminating communication in print can be prohibitively costly in any large quantity. an internal newsletter can be an ideal way to communicate information such as new staff. Disadvantages: Printed communication does have several disadvantages. In creating a newsletter you will need to consider the following questions: • What information will it include? Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. Also of importance is the role printed communication plays in meeting legal requirements and other tasks such as contracts. printed communication can carry more weight then more casual communication. the newsletter could run a column from your executive director and be used to recognise staff contributions. Finally. using the traditional postage system. they can be posted in strategic locations to attract the maximum of attention.org) 12 . increase morale. As such. Printed Communication Advantages: Print communication has the main advantage that it is an easy way to communicate a large amount of information that your audience can access in their own time. To start. Social events: Social activities can have as much impact on your organisational culture as any formal meeting. Similarly. Sample Tools and Tactics Internal newsletter: An internal newsletter is different from your organisation’s regular newsletter in that it contains information that is directly relevant only to your organisation’s staff. and deepen the connection between the staff and the organisation. It is long lasting communication that people can access whenever they are in the office. your audience has the option to simply discard your communication as soon as they lose interest. • Friday afternoon social outings: Invite staff to meet for a drink and snacks at a local café or restaurant at the end of the day on Friday. if they even pick it up in the first place. Some options for you to consider are: • Birthday celebrations: Let everyone take a half hour break in the afternoon and enjoy some cake! • Shared Lunches: Each staff member brings a different dish to share at lunchtime. In addition the CIVICUS toolkit ‘Producing your own media’ gives you advice on putting together a successful presentation. programme updates and organisational developments. printed communication can reach around the world. This can also be a good opportunity to learn about the culture of your colleagues through their different culinary dishes. Second. these events can build team spirit. In addition. In addition. preparing print material can be a lengthy process and time consuming. Often. and is primarily conducive to one way communication.Internal Communication Toolkit simply a certificate and a nice pat on the back? A well thought-out recognition programme can go a long way towards making your staff feel valued. Resource: The CIVICUS toolkit ‘Promoting your organisation’ provides some useful tips on speechmaking that could assist you with your in-person communication. even to those who do not have access to internet and email. It can have legal implications and can create issues of privacy. changes in policies and procedures. invoices and accounts. Finally.

mail it out etc – note that this could also be made into an electronic publication) How frequently will it go out? Who will be responsible for approving the content? And many more… Staff handbook: A staff handbook should be used as resource that staff can turn to when they have a question about the organisation’s policies and procedures. To make information sharing more effective.’ Information Technology based Communication Advantages: Information technology based communication has the advantage of being fast. Notice board: Notice boards are a simple and easy way to keep people informed of important issues. however. Your notice board could also include an employee recognition section and a feedback box. entitlements and responsibilities. Often. these resources are distributed haphazardly around the organisation with one or two people using a small selection and the rest not even knowing the resources are there. New media make it easier than ever for organisations with sufficient technological capacity to reach a large audience with a minimum amount of resources. however. it is a good tactic to use to ensure that staff are clear on their rights. journals and newsletters that they have collected over the years. This tool is most effective for conveying event announcements.Internal Communication Toolkit • • • • • • Who is responsible for writing the content? Who is responsible for compiling and editing all the stories? How will you disseminate it? (Put copies in the lunch room. Resource: CIVICUS has three additional toolkits that can help you with your written communication – ‘Producing your own media. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. and can help ensure a smooth relationship between staff and the organisation. This library would bring together the many different resources into one location and which are organised in a logical manner (by subject. brief but interesting news stories and other short items.org) 13 . cost or position with an organisation or skills. In addition. While it is not a good place to include information that may change on a regular basis. alphabetically etc). you can grab the attention of all the staff that pass by it. Resource library: Many organisations have large collection of books. Disadvantages: The major disadvantage of information technology based communication is that not everyone has access to the necessary technology whether because of location.’ ‘Writing effectively and powerfully’ and ‘Writing within your organisation. cheap and with a reach that stretches all the way around the world. that if your board is located somewhere where the public has access that you make sure it does not contain any confidential information. you could consider creating a central resource library. information overload – meaning that many people who regularly use this form of communication receive more information then they can effectively handle – increases the chance that your communication will be missed by its intended audience. Note. By putting a board in a high traffic area in your office and making it visually attractive.

a listserve can also be used as a discussion forum with staff posting interesting resources and stories they may have found and respond to those posted by others. Try to make sure that teams include members from different programmes and from different levels within the organisation. team building exercises can increase your organisational cohesion and the morale and effectiveness of your staff. controls all that goes to the list. See the note above for some tips on developing a newsletter. However. Listserves: A listserve sends out an email message to everyone who is subscribed to the list. meetings etc. as people become ever more inundated with information. in that one person. To conduct this activity you will need to: • Divide your organisation into teams of four or five. there are a lot of creative ways to improve the situation. rather then sending out an email for each item that needs to be communicated. a half-day of training or a week-long retreat. In-Person Communication: Smells like team spirit! If your organisation is lacking in team spirit. the moderator. Listserves can be used to distribute messages to all staff about upcoming events. resources and other information to staff who are located all around the world but have access to the internet. and each unique challenge has its own unique solution. Tele/video conferencing: Tele/Video conferencing is the best way to simulate a face-to-face meeting when that is not possible. Get Creative! Each organisation has its own unique challenges when it comes to internal communication. One exercise that helps develop team work skills that includes communication and problem-solving skills is the ‘Great Egg Drop’. However. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.Internal Communication Toolkit Sample Tools and Tactics Email: Email is a relatively cheap easy and quick way to send information. Resources: The CIVICUS Toolkit ‘Writing within your organisation’ contains a section with tips on using email. This will make it easy for your staff to recognise the newsletter as worthy of being read and not to relegate it to the rubbish bin. An intranet site can be used to provide access to shared files. You should consider establishing a monthly or bi-weekly enewsletter for your staff. in that anyone on the list can send a message to the list. or open. Tele/Video conferencing can be used to conduct small group discussion and get feedback from people who may work in the field or satellite offices and not be able to partake in staff meetings in the main office. Therefore when choosing tactics get creative! The following is just a sample of the creative ways you can use the tools available to you. Whether incorporated into regular staff meetings. Its main advantage is that it can overcome distance but has the disadvantage of requiring technology which in many areas is not very accessible. Intranet/Website: An intranet site is different from a website in that it is usually protected by a password and only accessible to the staff of an organisation. The list can be moderated. as so many others are. announcements.org) 14 . it is important to use email strategically as well.

Tell them that they have an hour to create a package that will prevent the egg from breaking when dropped.’ This wall would be a notice board with questions and answers from staff and management on all types of issues. as chair. • Develop an agenda. were introducing the item in a real meeting. but ideally this will be an organic process that draws your audience into debate and creates a sense of community. Print Communication: Wall of Debate! Notice boards can be an excellent place to announce upcoming events or provide tips on work-related problems. gather all the teams together for the great egg drop. • Finalise the minutes of the meeting and send to all participants for acceptance Note that this tactic is only really appropriate for up to 5 people and that. • Summarise the discussion and provide final decisions and action points. However. a meeting in a box. Using the power of email. and you should plan on monitoring the board regularly for inappropriate material. You can establish a formal process where staff submits a question and management posts a reply. it is an example of a creative way you can try to improve team spirit at your organisation. After the hour. it can also be an excellent way to engage your staff in two-way communication. If this is your situation. A meeting in a box does not allow for the same discussion and interaction among participants as an actual meeting does but it can be a creative way to address certain issues and circumstances. The board should be located somewhere staff visit regularly and ideally where they must wait. The agenda should be quite detailed and include background information on the items that are up for discussion. it becomes increasingly difficult to find the time for meetings that fit into everybody’s schedule and time zone. To hold a meeting in a box. Basically you need to include any information that you would provide if you. simply let anyone write up a question and anyone respond. While it may not be an ideal activity for all situations. consider holding a ‘meeting in a box’. Consider having rewards for those teams whose eggs do not break. That participant includes his comments and opinions on the agenda items and then forwards it to the next participant until all participants have had a chance to comment and it is returned to you. you will need to set deadlines for the amount of time each person has to review the agenda (try 24 hours after receipt of the email). the chair. consider establishing a ‘wall of debate. while not the same as a real meeting. international staff. • Circulate the agenda again so participants have an opportunity to raise any objections to the decisions. and perhaps more effective in creating a sense of community discussion. can overcome issues of time and distance while still providing some discussion of issues and collaboration in decision-making.Internal Communication Toolkit • • Give each team an egg. If your staff is located in a central location. More interestingly. • Attach the agenda with any relevant background documents to an email and send it to the first person on the participants list. This exercise requires staff to work together and use their problem-solving abilities to develop a collaborative solution. as chair. you need to complete the following steps: • Decide who you want to participate in the meeting and develop a list of participants including email addresses. Information Technology-based Communication: Meeting in a Box! With busy. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.org) 15 . You may need to get things started by posting some interesting questions.

it will not be effective. as the section above illustrates. Primary amongst these are the attitudes and culture of staff and management.org) 16 . they responded that they felt it would be a waste of their time. staff at an HIV/AIDS awareness organisation has repeatedly raised concerns regarding the security policy at staff meetings but management has not acted on any of the suggestions. When management decided to conduct voluntary focus groups to discuss the situation. Staff simply was not open to the tactic being used by management. In order to be able to address these issues. While change and improvement may not be instantaneous. However. how management behaviour and decisions are perceived by staff. only two staff members attended. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. Example: Over the last year.Internal Communication Toolkit Limitations of Tools and Tactics Different tools and tactics. will bring about long-term change. literacy. such as distance. management must recognise that there is a problem with their internal communication. The problem may not always be the issue of consultation and transparency in decision-making. it does not particularly matter which tool or tactic is being used.’ In other words. management behaviour and decisions. are able to overcome a wide range of practical problems. but could relate to such problems as inconsistency of actions or treatment and appreciation of staff/volunteers amongst many others. Once the backing is there. which are all in line with your key messages. tools and tactics are limited by human and social factors. If staff are not open to the communication being offered. whether based on past experience or the organisation’s culture. can have a profound effect on an organisational culture. and must be willing to implement a strategy to improve the situation. consistent implementation of your tactics. or more specifically. you must ‘first admit you have a problem. When asked why other staff did not attend. a strategic internal communication plan can start to work to improve the organisational culture. backed by consistent decisions by management. and the technological divide amongst others. Frequently.

Inter-programme communication (how effective is the sharing of information between programmes?) 1 Appendix A contains a sample survey similar to the one developed for Novus Mater 17 Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. Note: This case study is based on the experiences of a real organisation. Policies and procedures (did staff understand the established work process and feel that they allowed the staff to complete their tasks effectively?) 3. Creating the survey1 In developing the survey. Johannesburg and Seoul. Therefore. senior management had noticed that there was very little interaction between the programmes. have been modified to fit with the organisation’s particular circumstances. Current processes (how effective are current communication processes at sharing necessary information?) 4. As you read the case study. In addition. and the strategy developed. The organisation had several very successful programmes. comparable information with only a minimum amount of disruption to staff work hours. there was only minimal sharing of information and resources. However. For example. the communication team developed a survey with six parts: 1. Novus Mater had two goals in mind: to identify problems with inter-programme communication and to identify any additional problems with its internal communication. however the name and activities of the organisation have been modified. Across Novus Mater. Novus Mater. the department hoped that staff would raise issues and problems that they may not be comfortable speaking about directly with management or amongst themselves. Each programme seemed to operate as its own mini-organisation. how do staff feel about the decision-making processes and how well are decisions communicated?) 5. In order to address these issues. but rather to give you an example of how the process can unfold and some of the issues you may encounter.org) . try to identify how the steps taken. By making it anonymous. To get this information. has a staff of approximately 35 people of whom 30 are based in their main office in Mexico City and the rest are located in three satellite offices in London. there was one working with grassroots organisations to identify ways for HIV positive mothers to provide for their children and another looked for innovative solutions to assist young mothers attain an education. management was to find out from staff whether there were other problems in Novus Mater’s internal communication process. Getting to know Novus Mater Management’s first step was to see whether staff agreed that there was a problem with inter-programme communication.Internal Communication Toolkit Case Study: Building a cohesive organisation The following case study is not designed to provide you with a guide for exactly how to roll out the internal communication improvement process in your organisation. Decision-making processes (how are decisions made. but it also hurt Novus Mater’s external image because staff often were unable to assist a stakeholder with information on another programme. management decided that an anonymous survey would be best. Connection to Novus Mater (did staff understand the organisations goals and feel they were an important part in attaining these goals?) 2. A survey allowed the communication department to collect standard. Not only did this result in duplication of work. management decided to develop an internal communication strategy. an international alliance dedicated to supporting young mothers.

and the internal communication strategy would be much more effective if staff felt that it incorporated its views. although this was later extended to a week in order to try to increase the response rate. Of 35 staff members. This was to allow the communication team to compare answers between staff and develop generalisations on many of the issues. only 16 surveys were returned. Many of the questions on the survey asked staff to put their answer on a scale of one to five. creating a stronger structure to preserve anonymity (even to the point of considering an external party to administer the survey) and providing more information as to how the information collected would be used. All staff in the Mexico City office was given a hard copy of the survey and an envelope was placed at reception in order for them to submit their surveys anonymously. included building greater buy-in from staff by better explaining the project. Staff based in the satellite offices was emailed the survey. however. the team also took advantage of the relatively small size of Novus Mater and asked staff to expand on many of their answers. Organisational decision-making Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. Staff claimed to be too busy and the survey was not a priority 2. Therefore each section also included a space for staff to provide suggested solutions.org) 18 . Some potential steps that they had omitted and. policies and procedures and inter-programme communication/organisational cohesion. it was determined that there were three main areas where Novus Mater’s internal communications needed improvement: organisational decision making. they were unable to submit their surveys anonymously. realised they should have considered. Creating a strategy Once the responses to the survey had been compiled and analysed. Note: As several members of Novus Mater staff are not located in the main office. Staff did not believe that their input would actually be considered and valued The communication team recognise that more time should have been put into ensuring a high response rate. following the administration of the survey. at least some tactics for each problem should be able to work across distances as well as with the majority in the office. many of which were based on suggestions from the survey. The Novus Mater communication team made note of these issues in order to improve the process when they re-conduct the survey as part of the evaluation process in a year’s time. Staff did not trust the anonymity of the survey 3. several tools and tactics were identified to address the problems. For each area. Identifiable needs (What areas does staff feel requires more work) The communication team also decided to take advantage of the survey to obtain suggestions on how to improve the communication process. However.Internal Communication Toolkit 6. This provided much richer information for management to use to establish the internal communication strategy. Administering the survey: A low response rate Staff and management were initially given two days to complete the survey. The communication team was disappointed in this response as the survey was an ideal time to hear the views of all members of staff. Several reasons for the low response rate were identified: 1.

two tactics were agreed upon by management.Internal Communication Toolkit Two main issues with the organisational decision-making process were identified: lack of opportunity for staff to contribute to the decision-making process and ineffective communication of decisions once they had been made. the following tactics were identified and put in place: Tactic #1: The editors of programme e-newsletters will ensure that each issue goes to every member of staff Tactic #2: The communication team will produce a monthly internal e-newsletter with programme updates and staff news Tactic #3: The communication team will provide all staff with a branding and style guide for the Novus Mater look Tactic #4: Programme managers will provide programme updates at monthly staff meeting Tactic #5: The human resources team will organise a monthly social gathering for staff Next steps By implementing the above measures. Communication of decisions Tactic #1: Edited minutes from management and board meetings will be distributed to staff by email following each meeting. For both problems. and what tactics may need to be changed to ensure continued progress. the team will be able to determine if the internal communications is improving. Tactic #2: A staff representative will be appointed to meet with the Board and management team to provide a staff perspective on issues. it became clear that staff was either unaware or unsure of certain policies and procedures and felt that others were a little cumbersome. the communication team will evaluate their effectiveness. Tactic #2: A senior management representative will provide an overview of board decisions at monthly staff meeting Policies and procedures From the survey. For the second point. In this manner. either informally or formally through another survey. After the tactics have been in place for a significant period of time. the human resources department developed a staff handbook that contained all of Novus Mater’s official policies and procedures to provide staff with a single reference guide. based on recommendations from staff: Staff contribution to decision-making Tactic #1: Senior management will distribute by email a brief agenda/summary of items up for discussion prior to board meetings in order to solicit staff feedback. Inter-programme communication/organisational cohesion The majority of staff agreed with management that communication between programmes was ineffective and resulted in a lack of cohesion within the organisation. To address the first issue. management undertook to review those policies identified as cumbersome and identify potential ways to make them more efficient.org) 19 . Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. To improve this situation. Novus Mater hopes to improve its internal communication.

nl/pages/info10. by Michael Glueck.sdcn. Available online at: http://performanceappraisals. Available Online at: www. Engaging Internal and External Audiences Through Communications Tools (2001). Defining a vision for communication (2004) from the Communicator’s Network. Developing an employee communication strategy and mechanisms for internal communication from the Employers' Organisation for local government (EO) in the United Kingdom.htm (December 2005). Development Alternatives (DA). Available Online at: www.org) 20 .gov.uk/od/employee_communication/index.united.htm (December 2005). By Marijke Hallo de Wolf. Integrating Internal and External Components Into a Communications Strategy (May 2001). from UNITED for Intercultural Action.org/webworks/strategies/integrating. Communication and networking for NGOs: How to use your contacts to work more effectively (1996).lgemployers.The Neglected Strategic Element (2005) from Robert Bacal.sdcn. Mekong River Commission Secretariat/German Technical Cooperation. by Ambika Sharma.htm (December 2005).com). Available Online at: www.htm (December 2005). Internal Communication Strategies .sdcn. Available Online at: www. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. Melcrum Publishing (www. We acknowledge the authors’ valuable work and recommend them to you. Available online at: www.org/webworks/strategies/engaging.htm (December 2005).org/webworks/strategies/reflecting. Reflecting an Organisation's Information and Communications Culture (May 2001).non-profit.Internal Communication Toolkit References and Resources We used the following resources in developing this toolkit.org/Bacalsappraisalarticles/articles/comstrat.html (December 2005).melcrum. Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano.

Completed surveys can be submitted anonymously by placing it in the box at reception. please contact the communication team at … 1. vision and objectives I understand how my work contributes to the achievement of the organisation’s objectives I am an important part of the organisation I am committed to the organisation’s mission Strongly agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly disagree 1. why? If no.1.2 Do you feel you are an important part of the organisation? If yes. how would you improve them? Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. why not and are there any changes you could suggest to improve the situation? 2. Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements I understand the organisation’s mission. Connection to the organisation 1.1. Please rate how familiar you are with the organisation’s policy on: (1= very familiar. Note: If you have any questions or concerns.org) 21 .2 Are the organisation’s policies and procedures generally easy to follow? If not. 5= didn’t know there was one) Purchase orders Stationary requests Leave requests Email/Internet/VoIP Security First Aid Emergency response Logo use/branding Recruitment Other:___________________________ Very Familiar Familiar Somewhat familiar Aware one exists Didn’t know one existed 2. Policies and Procedures 2.Internal Communication Toolkit Appendix A Sample Internal Communication Survey Please complete survey by ______.

org) 22 .Internal Communication Toolkit 2.1 Please rate how important the following media are to you for communicating and sharing information between members of staff on a regular basis Formal Meetings Informal Meetings Email Telephone e-newsletter Programme e-Newsletters Notice board Print Resources Intranet Shared Drives Website List serves Policies and Procedures Other: _____________________________________ Very Important Important Neutral Not important Never use 3.3 Do any policies and procedures impede your ability to do your job? If so how? 2.2 Please rate how effective current internal communication processes are at conveying the following information: Board decisions and directions Senior management decisions and directions Organisational news and initiatives Programme updates/outputs Relevant external news Office policies and procedures Staff news Other: _______________________________________ Very good Good Average Poor Very Poor 3.4 Should other policies and procedures be developed that would help you do your job? Which? 3. Current Processes 3.3 Do you have any suggestions to improve the dissemination of the above information? Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.

1 Are management decisions generally communicated to you effectively? 4.e.0 Decision-making Processes 4. Information/Resource sharing between departments/programmes 5. newsletters…) Programme newsletters e-Newsletter Phone Other: _______________________________________ Daily Weekly Monthly Rarely Never 5. letters.5 Is information about different programmes shared effectively across the organisation? Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.3 Are you generally able to make the necessary decisions to do your job effectively? If not. 4.2 Do you generally understand the rationale for senior management decisions? 4.4 A How often do you communicate/share information about your programme with other programme staff? Circle one Daily Weekly Monthly Rarely Never 5.4 Do you generally feel that you are sufficiently consulted by management? If not.3 Do you take advantage of other programme resources/knowledge/skills for your work? If yes.Internal Communication Toolkit 4.2 How important is the work of other programmes to your work? 5. how? If no. what would you like to see happen? 5. memo. please explain.1 How often do you use the following to communicate (share/receive information) with other programmes: All-staff meetings Staff list-serve Individual emails Formal meetings Informal meetings Print materials (i.org) 23 .4 B How? 5. why not? 5.

3 Would you use a central resource library of print and multi-media resources organised by category? 6. and how often do you use them (Daily. Weekly. Never): Familiarity Yes No Daily Regularity of use Weekly Monthly Rarely Never Staff List serve Intranet site e-Newsletter Annual Reports Books Journals Newsletters Website Staff handbook Programme factsheets brochures Toolkits Photo collection Logo and style guide Other: ____________________________ 6.2 For any of the resources listed above that you are not familiar with. Monthly.Internal Communication Toolkit 6.0 Identifiable Needs 7.5 Can you think of any other internal communication resources which would be useful to you? 7.1 What area of the organisation’s internal communications needs most improvement? 7.0 Resources 6.1 Are you familiar with the following resources.4 Would you use an Intranet (Internal website)? What features would you use most? 6. would use them if you knew more about them? 6. Rarely.org) 24 .2 Do you have any suggestions on how to address this? Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.

The handbook will be distributed to all staff. 3 senior managers and 1 executive director Location: 30 in Mexico City. 1 Korean. 2 in Johannesburg.Internal Communication Toolkit Appendix B Sample Internal Communication Strategy Goal To ensure that individuals/departments within the organisation have access to all the information they require to make informed decisions and maximise their output. 25 Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. 5. 3. 1 in Seoul Working Language: English Native Language: 15 English. that will include a section from human resources highlighting and explaining a policy or procedure to staff. 4. All senior management and Board decisions are communicated effectively to staff. the communication team will organise a half-day workshop where staff can discuss the organisation’s mission and values as they relate to their work. 3 German ICT access: All staff have access to the internet and email on a regular basis Tools and tactics Objective #1: • Human resources will develop a backgrounder on the organisation to be included in all new staff induction packages • Once a year. 5 French. mission and values and of its key organisational developments. All staff are aware of the organisation’s vision. 2 in London. 10 Spanish. and the updates and developments of programmes other than their own. Staff is familiar with the resources available in. Staff understands and knows how to follow all policies and procedures related to his/her job. Objectives 1. 6 managers. 2. 1 Xhosa. • The Communication team to develop a monthly internal newsletter.org) . Staff are able to provide feedback to management through formal channels. Key messages • Sharing information and collaborating between members of staff is an important activity and is encouraged • Senior management is committed to open and transparent decision-making Audience Total: 35 Composition: 25 staff. Staff outside the main office to be included via teleconferencing Objective #2: • The executive director’s office will coordinate the dissemination of the minutes from management and board meetings by email to all staff • The executive director or another senior management representative will provide an overview of the main Board decisions at a monthly staff meeting Objective #3: • Human resources to develop a staff handbook that includes all the organisation’s policies and procedures. to be distributed by email.

org) 26 . At each monthly staff Programme managers Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.Internal Communication Toolkit Objective #4: • Each programme manager to include an update on their programme or a profile of resources or skills their programme has in the monthly internal newsletter • Each programme manager to provide an update on their programme at the monthly staff meeting • Editors of programme newsletters will ensure their newsletter is distributed to all staff Objective #5 • The chair of the monthly staff meeting to ensure that there is ample time for staff to provide feedback on the items presented • The senior manager to circulate the agenda for upcoming board meetings to give staff the opportunity to submit their feedback on issues • Human resources to organise the election of a staff representative to advise management and board discussions Implementation plan Tactic Objective #1: Backgrounder on the organisation for inclusion in all new staff induction packages a half day workshop where staff discuss the organisation’s mission and values as they relate to their work Objective #2: Dissemination of the minutes from board and management meetings Overview of the main Board decisions at a monthly staff meeting Objective #3: A staff handbook Internal newsletter with policy and procedures section Objective #4: an update on the programmes in the monthly internal newsletter An update on the Responsibility Human resources manager Communication manager Timeline Completed by 30 January First workshop to be held on 1 March and then yearly thereafter Executive director’s executive assistant Executive director or another representative of senior management Human resource manager Communication manager/human resource manager Programme managers Within 1 week following each meeting To be done at the first monthly staff meeting following each board meeting To be completed and sent to staff for feedback by 1 May First issue to be disseminated on 15 February To be submitted to Communication team 2 days before the newsletter is disseminated. First issue is 15 February.

org) 27 .Internal Communication Toolkit programmes at the monthly staff meeting Distribution of programme newsletters Objective #5 Ensure that there is ample time for staff to provide feedback on the items presented at the staff meeting Circulate the agenda for upcoming board meetings Election of a staff representative to advise management and board discussions meeting Editors Human resource manager Immediately following the release of each issue At each monthly staff meeting Senior manager Human resource manager At least one week prior to board meeting Election to take place on 10 February Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.

Internal Communication Toolkit CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is an international alliance established in 1993 to nurture the foundation.org Web: www. Suite 540 Washington D. Box 933 Southdale. in MS-Word and PDF format at www. especially in areas where participatory democracy and citizens’ freedom of association are threatened.civiblog.civilsocietywatch. growth and protection of citizen action throughout the world.civicus. For more information about CIVICUS: CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation 24 Gwigwi Mrwebi (formerly Pim) Street. Johannesburg 2001 South Africa P. strategic planning and dealing with the media. www.org. corner Quinn Street Newtown. These CIVICUS Toolkits have been produced to assist civil society organisations build their capacity and achieve their goals. www. The topics range from budgeting. inspired.civicus. CIVICUS envisions a worldwide community of informed.O.org Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.C.org Blog: http://civicus. 20036 USA Tel: +202 331-8518 Fax: +202 331-8774 Email: info@civicus.org) 28 . All are available on-line.civicusassembly. committed citizens in confronting the challenges facing humanity. to developing a financial strategy and writing an effective funding proposal. 2135 South Africa Tel: +27 11 833 5959 Fax:+27 11 833 7997 1112 16th NW.org and on CD-ROM.

The aim of the toolkit is to help organisations to improve their efficiency and effectiveness through the creation of internal communication processes that create a cohesive organisational culture. As your internal communication plan should be integrated within your organisation’s overall structure and strategic plan. creativity and detailed planning. This toolkit should be taken only as an introduction to internal communication and not a complete guide to all the issues that arise in this area.org) 1 . Within communication strategies. if you get there at all. It is the communication that relates directly to the foundation of your organisation: the people – staff. the following three toolkits will help you plan your external communication. monitoring and evaluation must be built into your plan. you may find these other CIVICUS toolkits (available at www. As well. internal communication is often overlooked. Your internal communication strategy should emerge from. if at all. your organisation will not achieve its objectives as fast.Internal Communication Toolkit Overview Welcome to this toolkit on developing an internal communication strategy for your organisation. you will not get where you are going very quickly. Improving your internal communication requires careful thought. harassment and multi-cultural communication are not discussed in detail. if the people that make up your organisation do not work together effectively. the focus is so exclusively on what is going on ‘out there’ that very little attention is given to what is going on within the organisation. Civil society organisations are focused on specific issues. In addition. If the many different pieces of your car do not fit smoothly together. and be guided by. yet it is vitally important. staff/management-board or inter-board communication. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. social exclusion. management and volunteers – that give your organisation its ability to function. Note: this toolkit focuses primarily on staff-management communication and not inter-management. This is because strategic internal communication is simply a step towards helping your organisation achieve its aims more effectively. your organisation’s overall strategic plan. on improving situations and having a real impact in addressing the many challenges facing the world. Often.civicus.org) useful in starting the planning process: Strategic planning Overview of planning Monitoring and evaluation Budgeting Action planning CIVICUS also offers two toolkits to assist your internal written communication: ‘Writing effectively and powerfully. An internal communication strategy is the key to ensuring a cohesive organisation focused on achieving its goals and objectives. Similarly.’ and ‘Writings within your organisation’. Developing sound internal communication processes and evaluating these processes on a regular basis is the same as making sure your car runs smoothly and is serviced regularly. which should be done in conjunction with your internal communication plan: Promoting your organisation Producing your own media Handling the media We refer to these toolkits and sections within them throughout this toolkit. Communicating and sharing information with colleagues is overlooked as everyone concentrates on getting work done and achieving the organisation’s objectives. In addition several important and in many cases sensitive issues such as change management.

Identify your key . .What is your .Determine your goals.Internal Communication Toolkit Site Map – Internal Communication Toolkit Overview References and Resources (At the end of the toolkit) Appendix A: Sample Internal Communication Survey Appendix B: Sample Internal Communication Strategy Introduction What is internal communication? How significant is internal communication? What are some of the benefits of effective internal communication? What are the main principles of effect internal communication? The Process Tools and Tactics In person Notices and publications Information and Communication technologies Limitations of tools and tactics Case Study Getting to know the organisation Developing the strategy Next steps - Taking a close look at your organisation - Developing a strategy Monitoring and evaluation What are your mission.What characterises audience your organisation’s .Develop an tools does your implementation organisation have? plan .What are your internal .Define your organisation’s objectives structure? .Identify tools and culture? tactics .Who makes up your messages organisation? .What communication . and values? goal .org) 2 .How do you answer Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Humethese questions? (Please email feedback to info@civicus.Finalise your strategy communication needs? .Define your .

Finally. it offers practical guidance on how to do it. why it is important and the benefits of having effective internal communication. written notices and publication or information and communication technologies. In addition. we highlight some of the limitations of tools and tactics in general Case Study: Building a cohesive organisation Based on a real experience. Tactics can use tools that require face to face meetings. In addition. we discover some of the key principles of successful internal communication. Particular attention is paid to how the organisation adapted the process to meet its own circumstances and needs. In particular. it will be useful for those organisations that want to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their organisation by creating increased cohesion among staff. If you decide you need to. Finally. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. this case study looks at how one organisation undertook the strategic internal communication process.org) 3 . We discuss the questions you need to ask of your organisation before you develop an internal communication plan and how to go about finding the answers.Internal Communication Toolkit Who will find this toolkit useful? This toolkit will be useful for all organisations that want to improve their internal communication. the toolkit also offers food for thought and some tips for organisations that may already feel that they have effective internal communication process but want to ensure that these are maintained and utilised consistently. we discuss the need for monitoring and evaluation the process in order to ensure that it achieves the desired goals and adapts to meet changing circumstances and needs. Then we go step-by-step through the process of developing an internal communication plan and implementing it. management and volunteers. A brief description of the toolkit This toolkit offers you an opportunity to think hard about whether your organisation needs to improve its internal communication. We discuss the benefits of each type and elaborate on some of the different tactics that can be used. Tools and Tactics Here we discuss the different tools and tactics that you can use to improve internal communication. On this site you will find: Introduction Here we look at what internal communication is. The strategic internal communication process Here we look at the three steps in the strategic internal communication process: taking a close look at your organisation. developing and implementing a strategy and monitoring and evaluation.

Meanwhile. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. memos etc. The executive director and the project manager may not necessarily be working at cross-purposes. Therefore. The executive director is then left wondering why the organisation is not achieving the goals she or he has set for it. and is focused on the same mission. Example: An adult literacy organisation has a mission to “assist disadvantaged adults obtain their high school diplomas. there is no communally held interpretation of the organisation’s mission.Internal Communication Toolkit Introduction What is internal communication? Internal communication does not refer only to those few “official” channels of communication within your organisation. pleasantries and body language. it develops a cohesive culture where everyone is focused on the same goals and has the same objectives. and therefore sees the organisation as assisting all illiterate adults. based on basic values of human dignity and human rights. such as a learning disability and/or substance abuse problem. Effective internal communication can ensure that all members of an organisation are working towards a common goal and assisting each other effectively. Within this hypothetical organisation. The organisational culture is the atmosphere of the organisation based on its values. does not mean that all members of your organisation interpret that mission and those values in the same manner. Therefore. It is not a process that goes from the top. Some specific benefits that can result from effective internal communication include: • Employees can make more decisions themselves since they have the tools and knowledge to know the "right" decisions in line with the organisation’s goals. internal communication encompasses both overt communication like meetings. your stakeholders can work more efficiently together and collaborate more effectively. the organisational culture promotes much more effective use of resources then under a culture that is more diffuse in its interpretation. management or volunteers. When every member of the organisation holds the same values. perhaps even more so. Within the non-governmental community. internal communication refers to the almost constant interactions within your organisation that convey meaning. internal communication and its effects on organisational culture is just as important as in the corporate sector. Just because your organisation has what you believe to be a clear mission. the intern. understands the work policies and procedures in the same way. the manager carefully targets a select group of people who have these problems. a project manager interprets disadvantaged as having something in addition to being illiterate. to the bottom. but they are not working as effectively together as they could be.” The executive director of the organisation assumes that to be illiterate is to be disadvantaged. and more casual forms of communication such as gossip. notice boards or staff meetings. whether they are employees. in designing and implementing a project. such as internal newsletters. the Chief. How significant is internal communication? Internal communication is significant in any organisation because it is the building block of the organisational culture. By working within a cohesive culture. Rather. mission and work processes. What are some of the benefits of effective internal communication? When your organisation is communicating effectively with its internal stakeholders.org) 4 .

not only to deal with specific issues. effective internal communication is planned. but for the long-term well-being of the organisation. tends to be planned only in reaction to specific events (downsizing for example). Although effective internal communication may not bring about all of these results for all organisations. internal communication is usually either arbitrary or incomplete and if planned. it can go a long way towards building an organisational culture where people work together effectively towards a common goal. pervasive methods Be consistent in your messages The rest of this tool kit will guide you through the step-by-step process of developing a strategic internal communication plan that is based on these principles. However. mission and procedures of the organisation. • Programmes and departments share more resources and information resulting in less duplication of work and stronger impact as a whole organisation • Day-to-day conflict can be reduced since a lot of conflict is the result of conflicting ideas on what is important to the organization. In other words. • What are the main principles of effective internal communication? Unlike with external communication. organisations often fail to strategically plan their internal communication. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. which can result in a sense of "making a difference" and increase effort and efficiency.org) 5 . Some basic principles to keep in mind when creating your strategic internal communication plan are: Develop a long-term focus Identify clear values for your organisation Define the specific goals for your internal communication strategy Use comprehensive.Internal Communication Toolkit Staff can identify better with the goals.

your organisation should first develop a strategic plan. What are your internal communication needs? Finally. gender and cultural diversity of the organisation. If you organisation does not have a mission or goals. In so doing.org) 6 . one organisation may not effectively communicate board decisions to all staff while another may not inform the board effectively on programme outputs. You must start by taking a good hard look at your organisation.Internal Communication Toolkit The Process Taking a close look at your organisation The first step for an internal communication plan is the same as for an external communication plan. you will need to identify where your organisation’s internal communication needs improvement. you will be able to identify potential tools that are missing or that are underused for some reason but which may have the potential to address a need. volunteers? Who sits on your board of directors? How are they related to the organisation or the organisation’s mandate? Where do staff work? At a central office? At home? On site? In satellite offices across the country or around the globe? Who makes up your organisation? Here you would identify not the structure of the organisations (the positions) but the make-up (the actual people). To assist in this task. Resource: CIVICUS Strategic Planning Toolkit can help you with this process. For example. What characterises your organisational culture and internal communication? Identifying organisation’s culture can be a difficult task as it is not easy to pin-down. The following is a list of questions that you should answer before developing an internal communication plan: What are your organisations mission and goals? These should be specific and clearly defined. it is useful to look at the current state of internal communication. It is likely that you will find that your organisation has a number of areas where internal Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. This will vary considerably from organisation to organisation. You would want to identify the age. What is your organisation’s structure? Here you should look at how your organisation is structured. part-time. Some questions to consider are: How many people comprise your management team? How does this compare to the number of staff? What type of staff do you have? Are most people full-time. The following are some questions you should consider: How familiar are staff with the missions and goals of the organisation? How are decisions made in your organisation? Do staff have the ability to make necessary decisions to do their jobs effectively? How is information shared between staff? What is the primary form of communication? How formal is internal communication? Do staff interact on a social level? What communication tools are used within your organisation? It is important to establish which tools staff and management are currently using to communicate amongst themselves and with each other.

the message does not have to be explicit in every communication. with some being more important than others. frequency etc. make sure that you pay close attention to those shortcomings in your internal communications that were identified when you took a close look at your organisation. Tool: Appendix A provides a sample staff survey. Determine your goal Here you should identify what is the overarching goal for your internal communication strategy. you could consider holding small focus groups or administering a staff survey. The information you uncovered in the previous section should and will inform all the decisions that you make with regards to the different sections of your strategy. you could consider raising these questions in an all-staff meeting. as you strive to improve the internal communication processes.Internal Communication Toolkit communication can be improved. your work. should strive to convey a few key messages. you can consider several tactics to uncover the information you need to know. Developing a strategy Now that you are familiar with the characteristics of your organisation. each step would also form a section of your strategy. In selecting your objectives. Identify your key messages While the millions of formal and informal communications that take place within your organisation on an annual basis do not all carry the same messages. However. These needs. Example of an objective: Ensure that all staff is aware of the organisation’s vision. Depending on the size of your organisation and its organisational culture. If you organisation is small and has a culture that allows for open and frank discussion. This sample provides a starting point to create a survey that meets the particular circumstances of your organisation. How do you answer these questions? In taking a closer look at your organisation. if your organisation is larger. will directly inform your internal communication strategy. These messages do not have to be complex. and should all build towards your goal. 1. Define your objectives Your objectives differ from your goal in that they are more specific and measurable. The following are the necessary steps in this process. 3. and their varying level of importance. some of the answers to these questions will be obvious whereas others may be much more difficult to uncover. 2.org) 7 . medium. It should answer the question: “What do want your organisation to look like in the future?” Example of a goal: To ensure that individuals/departments within the organisation have access to all the information they require to make informed decisions and maximise their output. Note that while they are described as steps. rather. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. mission and values and of its key organisational developments. or you find that staff do not feel comfortable speaking about these issues in large groups.’ Similarly. the context. you can start developing a strategy. it could be something as simple as ‘it is important that the staff is aware of how the organisation is moving forward. of the communication should imply the message.

Example: Email is a tool while sending out the minutes from management meetings using email is a tactic. Define your audience Based on what you learned when you took a close look at your organisation. it is important to be creative and try to come up with as many tools as possible. Identify tools and tactics It is here that you actually identify how you are going to communicate with your audience. This list could include things like email.Internal Communication Toolkit Example: A key message could be ‘Staff input in management decisions and organisation direction is valued and important. Example: ‘Share board decisions with staff’ is NOT a tactic – ‘provide an overview of board decisions at monthly staff meeting’ is a tactic. have access to the internet or email on a regular basis. you can select several of the best available tactics for implementation.org) 8 . that your organisation simply does not have the resources. Do not choose a tactic. In other words. Note that it is important that your tactics are realistic. It may be useful to first create a list of all the tools that are available to you to reach your specific audience. A useful way to identify potential tactics is to take each objective separately and brainstorm as many different ways you can use the tools available to you to achieve your objective.’ This message does not need to be explicitly stated in a communiqué to staff. Example: Email is not an appropriate tool for an organisation whose staff/volunteers have no or irregular access to the internet. newsletters. will all have a profound impact on the tactics you can use to communicate with them. A following section in this toolkit will provide a potential list of tools and tactics that you could consider using. Once this is done. When selecting a tactic it is important to not only consider the audience but also to focus on your objectives. 5. 4. In putting together this list. The audience is the key factor when you select those tools that are available to you and therefore your list of tools should be cross-checked to make sure that it is appropriate for the characteristics of your audience. regular post and many more. This will allow you to better identify the best tactics to reach your particular audience. rather the communiqué should encourage staff to send back their comments and concerns. Meanwhile. the instrument that you can use to reach your audience. To start. The tactics you identify need to be very specific actions. face-to-face staff meetings are obviously not going to work for staff who are not based in a central office. or several tactics. whether in terms of staff time or money. a tool is a medium of communication. there are several things you must keep in mind when selecting the tools and tactics you will use. located in a central office or dispersed around the world. you should be able to provide a pretty accurate description of what your internal audience looks like.’ Knowing whether your audience are paid staff or volunteers. however. Having a clear picture of your audience is particularly important when you come to the next section of your toolkit ‘Identifying tools and tactics. but rather a specific action that someone can take to achieve a particular aim. while a tactic is the manner in which you use the tool. a tactic is not a general statement of something that needs to be done. telephone. to Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. among other factors.

Finalise the strategy Once you have completed these six steps and have put together a complete internal communication strategy. do not automatically incorporate all comments into the strategy if they do not take into account many of the issues that have been discussed above. Monitor. it is again very important to make sure that tactics and their implementation are selected in consultation with the staff and management of your organisation. IMPORTANT: Identifying and selecting tools and tactics does not have to (and in fact. Rather. you need to control this process and set deadlines for when people need to get back to you. It is often better to implement one or two very simple tactics than to select one grand tactic or many little ones that your organisation simply cannot complete. this may mean circulating the strategy to staff for comment or simply discussing it with a few key people. In either case. different tactics will be completed by different people. you need to identify whose responsibility it is to complete it and a timeframe for its completion (or a schedule if it is a regular task). Rather consider all comments and modify the strategy to best address the issues raised while maintaining a realistic implementation plan. an internal communication strategy requires continual evaluation and up-dates. 6. with some being the responsibility of management and others of specific staff members. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. However. the time has come to turn words into action! Tool: Appendix B is a sample internal communication strategy. Note that all the tactics will not necessarily be completed by the communication or human resources department (if your organisation is large enough to have one) or by just one person. While this strategy can be used as a guide for your strategy. should not) be the responsibility of one person or department. As with any organisation or communication strategy.org) 9 . If you are conducting a survey or focus groups as part of the ‘taking a close look at your organisation’ process. current projects and the organisation’s strategic direction may ensure that you achieve your objective. Often. As this is the case. if your organisation realistically only has the resources to produce this newsletter once a year. 7. Once this process is complete and you have received the approval you need. but that does not mean that your work is done and you can file your strategy away. it would be more effective to send brief letters with the key information every other month. it will need to be modified to meet the specific needs and objectives of your organisation. Example: Producing and mailing (regular post being the tool) a quarterly twelve page print newsletter that provides all the details on staff movement. Develop an implementation plan Here is where you get into the detail: who is going to do what and when? For each tactic you have selected. make sure that seeking recommendations for specific tactics is part of the process. you will need to collect feedback from others in your organisation and finalise the strategy. Similarly. as many people as possible should be asked to recommend ways to achieve the objectives as this is the best way to identify creative tactics that are realistic in terms of the organisations resources.Internal Communication Toolkit complete. Depending on the size and structure of your organisation. evaluate and update You may have completed and implemented your internal communication strategy.

you must monitor the implementation of your strategy. This may mean modifying the tactics that you are using or developing new objectives. you must regularly evaluate whether your tactics are actually helping you achieve your objectives and your overall goal. Again. This means making sure that your tactics are being implemented on time and as planned. Second. Following the evaluation process is the updating phase. you will need to update it to address the issues. In any case. or formally such as through a staff survey and discussion groups. Example: If you conducted a staff survey prior to completing a strategy. This can be done informally. you should consider conducting a similar survey one year later. while changes can be made throughout the year. It may become apparent that one of the main problem areas has improved immensely but that one of the positive areas is now having considerable problems.Internal Communication Toolkit To start with. This will allow you to see whether any areas have improved. As you identify problems with your strategy.org) 10 . such as through general observations and casual conversations. and making any adjustments necessary to achieve this. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. you should implement an annual evaluation process to determine the progress being made towards your goal. a formal review process should be completed on a yearly basis to ensure that the strategy evolves to meet the current needs of the organisation.

In addition. staff may not be honest in their communications because they can not be anonymous and therefore may feel ‘unsafe’ and they may not want to loose face. innovative ideas etc. training needs or other behavioural issues are often best dealt with on an individual basis. Finally staff meetings can include team building activities and other training exercises to improve the functioning of your organisation. and then provided a number of different tactics that can be undertaken using that tool. provide staff with an overview of the organisation’s strategic plan.org) 11 . in-person communication can also be more informal and have more social aspects then many other forms. face-to-face meetings allow for the discussion of sensitive issues that require more subtlety because the use of body language and other social conventions are visible. High morale translates into dedicated staff who are more efficient and effective in their work. sub-par performance. Issues to do with continued employment. the instrument that you can use to reach your audience. direct and conducive to two-way communication. In-person communication is the ideal tool for holding discussions on important issues and getting feedback from your audience. staff meetings can be the perfect place to seek feedback from staff and discuss important issues. we have listed its advantages and disadvantages. Individual meetings: Individual meetings are a good tool when you need to communicate sensitive issues. For each tool. and share management and board decisions.Internal Communication Toolkit Tools and Tactics As mentioned above. In addition. you must first consider what it is you want to recognise: length of service. In-person communication Advantages: In-person communication has the advantage that it is personal. success in a project. a tool is a medium of communication. welcome new staff and say farewell to staff who are leaving. The following is an extensive. will there be prizes or is it Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. while a tactic is the manner in which you use the tool. In particular. although by no means complete. Disadvantages: The main disadvantage of in-person communication is that your audience must be physically present in one location. In addition. list of tools and tactics you can consider using to improve the internal communication at your organisation. Recognition programmes: Recognising the contribution and achievement of staff is a key part of ensuring a high morale in the workplace. You must also decide whether you want to give out monthly awards or have a yearly programme. all staff meetings can be an ideal way to communicate key information to staff. Sample Tools and Tactics All staff meetings: If your organisation is not too big. Office politics can also often play a large role in in-person communication and can therefore provide additional complications to tactics that use this medium. When establishing a recognition programme. Other disadvantages is that it can be a timeconsuming form of communication. These meetings can be used to communicate updates from different programmes and departments.

Also of importance is the role printed communication plays in meeting legal requirements and other tasks such as contracts. your audience has the option to simply discard your communication as soon as they lose interest. Social events: Social activities can have as much impact on your organisational culture as any formal meeting. the newsletter could run a column from your executive director and be used to recognise staff contributions. Printed Communication Advantages: Print communication has the main advantage that it is an easy way to communicate a large amount of information that your audience can access in their own time. Similarly. Second. In creating a newsletter you will need to consider the following questions: • What information will it include? Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. It can have legal implications and can create issues of privacy. they can be posted in strategic locations to attract the maximum of attention. even to those who do not have access to internet and email. This can also be a good opportunity to learn about the culture of your colleagues through their different culinary dishes. changes in policies and procedures. As such. To start.org) 12 . programme updates and organisational developments. Finally. an internal newsletter can be an ideal way to communicate information such as new staff. if they even pick it up in the first place. Some options for you to consider are: • Birthday celebrations: Let everyone take a half hour break in the afternoon and enjoy some cake! • Shared Lunches: Each staff member brings a different dish to share at lunchtime. and deepen the connection between the staff and the organisation. Finally. preparing print material can be a lengthy process and time consuming. increase morale. these events can build team spirit. In addition the CIVICUS toolkit ‘Producing your own media’ gives you advice on putting together a successful presentation. Often. • Friday afternoon social outings: Invite staff to meet for a drink and snacks at a local café or restaurant at the end of the day on Friday. Disadvantages: Printed communication does have several disadvantages. printed communication can carry more weight then more casual communication. printing and disseminating communication in print can be prohibitively costly in any large quantity. In addition. Sample Tools and Tactics Internal newsletter: An internal newsletter is different from your organisation’s regular newsletter in that it contains information that is directly relevant only to your organisation’s staff. printed communication can reach around the world.Internal Communication Toolkit simply a certificate and a nice pat on the back? A well thought-out recognition programme can go a long way towards making your staff feel valued. In addition. invoices and accounts. and is primarily conducive to one way communication. Resource: The CIVICUS toolkit ‘Promoting your organisation’ provides some useful tips on speechmaking that could assist you with your in-person communication. using the traditional postage system. It is long lasting communication that people can access whenever they are in the office.

information overload – meaning that many people who regularly use this form of communication receive more information then they can effectively handle – increases the chance that your communication will be missed by its intended audience. alphabetically etc). Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. Often. brief but interesting news stories and other short items. it is a good tactic to use to ensure that staff are clear on their rights. Resource library: Many organisations have large collection of books.’ Information Technology based Communication Advantages: Information technology based communication has the advantage of being fast. Notice board: Notice boards are a simple and easy way to keep people informed of important issues.Internal Communication Toolkit • • • • • • Who is responsible for writing the content? Who is responsible for compiling and editing all the stories? How will you disseminate it? (Put copies in the lunch room. journals and newsletters that they have collected over the years. Note. While it is not a good place to include information that may change on a regular basis. cost or position with an organisation or skills. however. entitlements and responsibilities. Your notice board could also include an employee recognition section and a feedback box. To make information sharing more effective. This tool is most effective for conveying event announcements.org) 13 . In addition. that if your board is located somewhere where the public has access that you make sure it does not contain any confidential information. these resources are distributed haphazardly around the organisation with one or two people using a small selection and the rest not even knowing the resources are there. This library would bring together the many different resources into one location and which are organised in a logical manner (by subject. and can help ensure a smooth relationship between staff and the organisation. New media make it easier than ever for organisations with sufficient technological capacity to reach a large audience with a minimum amount of resources. you could consider creating a central resource library. cheap and with a reach that stretches all the way around the world. Disadvantages: The major disadvantage of information technology based communication is that not everyone has access to the necessary technology whether because of location. By putting a board in a high traffic area in your office and making it visually attractive. you can grab the attention of all the staff that pass by it. however.’ ‘Writing effectively and powerfully’ and ‘Writing within your organisation. Resource: CIVICUS has three additional toolkits that can help you with your written communication – ‘Producing your own media. mail it out etc – note that this could also be made into an electronic publication) How frequently will it go out? Who will be responsible for approving the content? And many more… Staff handbook: A staff handbook should be used as resource that staff can turn to when they have a question about the organisation’s policies and procedures.

You should consider establishing a monthly or bi-weekly enewsletter for your staff. there are a lot of creative ways to improve the situation. However. as so many others are. Intranet/Website: An intranet site is different from a website in that it is usually protected by a password and only accessible to the staff of an organisation. or open. and each unique challenge has its own unique solution. Tele/video conferencing: Tele/Video conferencing is the best way to simulate a face-to-face meeting when that is not possible. Its main advantage is that it can overcome distance but has the disadvantage of requiring technology which in many areas is not very accessible.org) 14 . In-Person Communication: Smells like team spirit! If your organisation is lacking in team spirit. resources and other information to staff who are located all around the world but have access to the internet. See the note above for some tips on developing a newsletter. This will make it easy for your staff to recognise the newsletter as worthy of being read and not to relegate it to the rubbish bin. However. as people become ever more inundated with information. One exercise that helps develop team work skills that includes communication and problem-solving skills is the ‘Great Egg Drop’. the moderator. a half-day of training or a week-long retreat. meetings etc. in that one person. controls all that goes to the list. in that anyone on the list can send a message to the list. announcements. Therefore when choosing tactics get creative! The following is just a sample of the creative ways you can use the tools available to you. An intranet site can be used to provide access to shared files. Resources: The CIVICUS Toolkit ‘Writing within your organisation’ contains a section with tips on using email. Whether incorporated into regular staff meetings. Get Creative! Each organisation has its own unique challenges when it comes to internal communication. Tele/Video conferencing can be used to conduct small group discussion and get feedback from people who may work in the field or satellite offices and not be able to partake in staff meetings in the main office. it is important to use email strategically as well. team building exercises can increase your organisational cohesion and the morale and effectiveness of your staff. Try to make sure that teams include members from different programmes and from different levels within the organisation. The list can be moderated. a listserve can also be used as a discussion forum with staff posting interesting resources and stories they may have found and respond to those posted by others.Internal Communication Toolkit Sample Tools and Tactics Email: Email is a relatively cheap easy and quick way to send information. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. rather then sending out an email for each item that needs to be communicated. Listserves can be used to distribute messages to all staff about upcoming events. Listserves: A listserve sends out an email message to everyone who is subscribed to the list. To conduct this activity you will need to: • Divide your organisation into teams of four or five.

Information Technology-based Communication: Meeting in a Box! With busy. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. and you should plan on monitoring the board regularly for inappropriate material. You may need to get things started by posting some interesting questions. You can establish a formal process where staff submits a question and management posts a reply. Consider having rewards for those teams whose eggs do not break. • Develop an agenda. but ideally this will be an organic process that draws your audience into debate and creates a sense of community. you need to complete the following steps: • Decide who you want to participate in the meeting and develop a list of participants including email addresses.org) 15 . it becomes increasingly difficult to find the time for meetings that fit into everybody’s schedule and time zone. More interestingly. a meeting in a box. the chair. • Circulate the agenda again so participants have an opportunity to raise any objections to the decisions. A meeting in a box does not allow for the same discussion and interaction among participants as an actual meeting does but it can be a creative way to address certain issues and circumstances. international staff. If this is your situation. • Attach the agenda with any relevant background documents to an email and send it to the first person on the participants list. Using the power of email. The board should be located somewhere staff visit regularly and ideally where they must wait. That participant includes his comments and opinions on the agenda items and then forwards it to the next participant until all participants have had a chance to comment and it is returned to you. it is an example of a creative way you can try to improve team spirit at your organisation.Internal Communication Toolkit • • Give each team an egg. consider establishing a ‘wall of debate. • Finalise the minutes of the meeting and send to all participants for acceptance Note that this tactic is only really appropriate for up to 5 people and that. To hold a meeting in a box. while not the same as a real meeting. it can also be an excellent way to engage your staff in two-way communication. Tell them that they have an hour to create a package that will prevent the egg from breaking when dropped. you will need to set deadlines for the amount of time each person has to review the agenda (try 24 hours after receipt of the email). • Summarise the discussion and provide final decisions and action points. were introducing the item in a real meeting. The agenda should be quite detailed and include background information on the items that are up for discussion. If your staff is located in a central location. as chair. Basically you need to include any information that you would provide if you.’ This wall would be a notice board with questions and answers from staff and management on all types of issues. However. This exercise requires staff to work together and use their problem-solving abilities to develop a collaborative solution. consider holding a ‘meeting in a box’. as chair. and perhaps more effective in creating a sense of community discussion. gather all the teams together for the great egg drop. While it may not be an ideal activity for all situations. can overcome issues of time and distance while still providing some discussion of issues and collaboration in decision-making. After the hour. Print Communication: Wall of Debate! Notice boards can be an excellent place to announce upcoming events or provide tips on work-related problems. simply let anyone write up a question and anyone respond.

Example: Over the last year. a strategic internal communication plan can start to work to improve the organisational culture. how management behaviour and decisions are perceived by staff. When asked why other staff did not attend. and must be willing to implement a strategy to improve the situation. whether based on past experience or the organisation’s culture. Frequently. Primary amongst these are the attitudes and culture of staff and management. management must recognise that there is a problem with their internal communication. Once the backing is there. as the section above illustrates. they responded that they felt it would be a waste of their time. can have a profound effect on an organisational culture. When management decided to conduct voluntary focus groups to discuss the situation.’ In other words. or more specifically. tools and tactics are limited by human and social factors. which are all in line with your key messages. backed by consistent decisions by management. consistent implementation of your tactics. management behaviour and decisions. While change and improvement may not be instantaneous. are able to overcome a wide range of practical problems. and the technological divide amongst others. you must ‘first admit you have a problem. but could relate to such problems as inconsistency of actions or treatment and appreciation of staff/volunteers amongst many others.Internal Communication Toolkit Limitations of Tools and Tactics Different tools and tactics. literacy. The problem may not always be the issue of consultation and transparency in decision-making. However. will bring about long-term change. Staff simply was not open to the tactic being used by management. it will not be effective.org) 16 . In order to be able to address these issues. only two staff members attended. it does not particularly matter which tool or tactic is being used. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. If staff are not open to the communication being offered. such as distance. staff at an HIV/AIDS awareness organisation has repeatedly raised concerns regarding the security policy at staff meetings but management has not acted on any of the suggestions.

A survey allowed the communication department to collect standard. Current processes (how effective are current communication processes at sharing necessary information?) 4. In addition. has a staff of approximately 35 people of whom 30 are based in their main office in Mexico City and the rest are located in three satellite offices in London. have been modified to fit with the organisation’s particular circumstances. Getting to know Novus Mater Management’s first step was to see whether staff agreed that there was a problem with inter-programme communication. and the strategy developed. however the name and activities of the organisation have been modified. Decision-making processes (how are decisions made. Not only did this result in duplication of work. senior management had noticed that there was very little interaction between the programmes. Connection to Novus Mater (did staff understand the organisations goals and feel they were an important part in attaining these goals?) 2. management was to find out from staff whether there were other problems in Novus Mater’s internal communication process. Therefore. To get this information. Across Novus Mater. For example. Johannesburg and Seoul. By making it anonymous. As you read the case study. the department hoped that staff would raise issues and problems that they may not be comfortable speaking about directly with management or amongst themselves. In order to address these issues. Each programme seemed to operate as its own mini-organisation. management decided that an anonymous survey would be best. but rather to give you an example of how the process can unfold and some of the issues you may encounter. Inter-programme communication (how effective is the sharing of information between programmes?) 1 Appendix A contains a sample survey similar to the one developed for Novus Mater 17 Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. Creating the survey1 In developing the survey. Policies and procedures (did staff understand the established work process and feel that they allowed the staff to complete their tasks effectively?) 3. there was only minimal sharing of information and resources. how do staff feel about the decision-making processes and how well are decisions communicated?) 5.Internal Communication Toolkit Case Study: Building a cohesive organisation The following case study is not designed to provide you with a guide for exactly how to roll out the internal communication improvement process in your organisation. comparable information with only a minimum amount of disruption to staff work hours. The organisation had several very successful programmes. try to identify how the steps taken. Novus Mater had two goals in mind: to identify problems with inter-programme communication and to identify any additional problems with its internal communication. management decided to develop an internal communication strategy. Note: This case study is based on the experiences of a real organisation. Novus Mater. However. the communication team developed a survey with six parts: 1.org) . an international alliance dedicated to supporting young mothers. but it also hurt Novus Mater’s external image because staff often were unable to assist a stakeholder with information on another programme. there was one working with grassroots organisations to identify ways for HIV positive mothers to provide for their children and another looked for innovative solutions to assist young mothers attain an education.

following the administration of the survey. many of which were based on suggestions from the survey. Staff based in the satellite offices was emailed the survey.org) 18 . they were unable to submit their surveys anonymously. Staff claimed to be too busy and the survey was not a priority 2. Some potential steps that they had omitted and. The communication team was disappointed in this response as the survey was an ideal time to hear the views of all members of staff. realised they should have considered. several tools and tactics were identified to address the problems.Internal Communication Toolkit 6. This was to allow the communication team to compare answers between staff and develop generalisations on many of the issues. Identifiable needs (What areas does staff feel requires more work) The communication team also decided to take advantage of the survey to obtain suggestions on how to improve the communication process. The Novus Mater communication team made note of these issues in order to improve the process when they re-conduct the survey as part of the evaluation process in a year’s time. only 16 surveys were returned. All staff in the Mexico City office was given a hard copy of the survey and an envelope was placed at reception in order for them to submit their surveys anonymously. the team also took advantage of the relatively small size of Novus Mater and asked staff to expand on many of their answers. This provided much richer information for management to use to establish the internal communication strategy. Staff did not believe that their input would actually be considered and valued The communication team recognise that more time should have been put into ensuring a high response rate. Creating a strategy Once the responses to the survey had been compiled and analysed. For each area. Staff did not trust the anonymity of the survey 3. However. Note: As several members of Novus Mater staff are not located in the main office. although this was later extended to a week in order to try to increase the response rate. at least some tactics for each problem should be able to work across distances as well as with the majority in the office. creating a stronger structure to preserve anonymity (even to the point of considering an external party to administer the survey) and providing more information as to how the information collected would be used. Therefore each section also included a space for staff to provide suggested solutions. Administering the survey: A low response rate Staff and management were initially given two days to complete the survey. Many of the questions on the survey asked staff to put their answer on a scale of one to five. included building greater buy-in from staff by better explaining the project. Several reasons for the low response rate were identified: 1. and the internal communication strategy would be much more effective if staff felt that it incorporated its views. however. Of 35 staff members. Organisational decision-making Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. policies and procedures and inter-programme communication/organisational cohesion. it was determined that there were three main areas where Novus Mater’s internal communications needed improvement: organisational decision making.

two tactics were agreed upon by management. the communication team will evaluate their effectiveness. the following tactics were identified and put in place: Tactic #1: The editors of programme e-newsletters will ensure that each issue goes to every member of staff Tactic #2: The communication team will produce a monthly internal e-newsletter with programme updates and staff news Tactic #3: The communication team will provide all staff with a branding and style guide for the Novus Mater look Tactic #4: Programme managers will provide programme updates at monthly staff meeting Tactic #5: The human resources team will organise a monthly social gathering for staff Next steps By implementing the above measures. Novus Mater hopes to improve its internal communication.Internal Communication Toolkit Two main issues with the organisational decision-making process were identified: lack of opportunity for staff to contribute to the decision-making process and ineffective communication of decisions once they had been made. To address the first issue. Communication of decisions Tactic #1: Edited minutes from management and board meetings will be distributed to staff by email following each meeting. After the tactics have been in place for a significant period of time. To improve this situation. For the second point. Inter-programme communication/organisational cohesion The majority of staff agreed with management that communication between programmes was ineffective and resulted in a lack of cohesion within the organisation. either informally or formally through another survey. the human resources department developed a staff handbook that contained all of Novus Mater’s official policies and procedures to provide staff with a single reference guide. For both problems. management undertook to review those policies identified as cumbersome and identify potential ways to make them more efficient. Tactic #2: A staff representative will be appointed to meet with the Board and management team to provide a staff perspective on issues. based on recommendations from staff: Staff contribution to decision-making Tactic #1: Senior management will distribute by email a brief agenda/summary of items up for discussion prior to board meetings in order to solicit staff feedback. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. the team will be able to determine if the internal communications is improving. Tactic #2: A senior management representative will provide an overview of board decisions at monthly staff meeting Policies and procedures From the survey.org) 19 . and what tactics may need to be changed to ensure continued progress. In this manner. it became clear that staff was either unaware or unsure of certain policies and procedures and felt that others were a little cumbersome.

com). Development Alternatives (DA). Available Online at: www. Integrating Internal and External Components Into a Communications Strategy (May 2001).org/webworks/strategies/integrating.html (December 2005).united. by Ambika Sharma. Available online at: http://performanceappraisals.htm (December 2005).sdcn. Available Online at: www.org/webworks/strategies/engaging.htm (December 2005).org) 20 . Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano. Available Online at: www.gov. from UNITED for Intercultural Action. Engaging Internal and External Audiences Through Communications Tools (2001). by Michael Glueck.htm (December 2005).nl/pages/info10. Mekong River Commission Secretariat/German Technical Cooperation. Reflecting an Organisation's Information and Communications Culture (May 2001).non-profit.sdcn.sdcn.uk/od/employee_communication/index. Melcrum Publishing (www.htm (December 2005). Defining a vision for communication (2004) from the Communicator’s Network.The Neglected Strategic Element (2005) from Robert Bacal. Developing an employee communication strategy and mechanisms for internal communication from the Employers' Organisation for local government (EO) in the United Kingdom. By Marijke Hallo de Wolf.Internal Communication Toolkit References and Resources We used the following resources in developing this toolkit. Internal Communication Strategies .org/webworks/strategies/reflecting. Communication and networking for NGOs: How to use your contacts to work more effectively (1996).org/Bacalsappraisalarticles/articles/comstrat.lgemployers.melcrum.htm (December 2005). Available online at: www. We acknowledge the authors’ valuable work and recommend them to you. Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. Available Online at: www.

Internal Communication Toolkit Appendix A Sample Internal Communication Survey Please complete survey by ______. why not and are there any changes you could suggest to improve the situation? 2.1. Please rate how familiar you are with the organisation’s policy on: (1= very familiar. how would you improve them? Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.1. vision and objectives I understand how my work contributes to the achievement of the organisation’s objectives I am an important part of the organisation I am committed to the organisation’s mission Strongly agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly disagree 1. Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements I understand the organisation’s mission. Note: If you have any questions or concerns.org) 21 . Policies and Procedures 2.2 Are the organisation’s policies and procedures generally easy to follow? If not. please contact the communication team at … 1. why? If no. Completed surveys can be submitted anonymously by placing it in the box at reception.2 Do you feel you are an important part of the organisation? If yes. Connection to the organisation 1. 5= didn’t know there was one) Purchase orders Stationary requests Leave requests Email/Internet/VoIP Security First Aid Emergency response Logo use/branding Recruitment Other:___________________________ Very Familiar Familiar Somewhat familiar Aware one exists Didn’t know one existed 2.

1 Please rate how important the following media are to you for communicating and sharing information between members of staff on a regular basis Formal Meetings Informal Meetings Email Telephone e-newsletter Programme e-Newsletters Notice board Print Resources Intranet Shared Drives Website List serves Policies and Procedures Other: _____________________________________ Very Important Important Neutral Not important Never use 3.Internal Communication Toolkit 2.2 Please rate how effective current internal communication processes are at conveying the following information: Board decisions and directions Senior management decisions and directions Organisational news and initiatives Programme updates/outputs Relevant external news Office policies and procedures Staff news Other: _______________________________________ Very good Good Average Poor Very Poor 3.org) 22 .3 Do any policies and procedures impede your ability to do your job? If so how? 2. Current Processes 3.3 Do you have any suggestions to improve the dissemination of the above information? Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.4 Should other policies and procedures be developed that would help you do your job? Which? 3.

2 Do you generally understand the rationale for senior management decisions? 4.3 Are you generally able to make the necessary decisions to do your job effectively? If not.2 How important is the work of other programmes to your work? 5.org) 23 . how? If no.4 B How? 5. memo.1 Are management decisions generally communicated to you effectively? 4. why not? 5. please explain.Internal Communication Toolkit 4.e.1 How often do you use the following to communicate (share/receive information) with other programmes: All-staff meetings Staff list-serve Individual emails Formal meetings Informal meetings Print materials (i.4 Do you generally feel that you are sufficiently consulted by management? If not. 4. newsletters…) Programme newsletters e-Newsletter Phone Other: _______________________________________ Daily Weekly Monthly Rarely Never 5.5 Is information about different programmes shared effectively across the organisation? Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. letters.0 Decision-making Processes 4.3 Do you take advantage of other programme resources/knowledge/skills for your work? If yes. Information/Resource sharing between departments/programmes 5. what would you like to see happen? 5.4 A How often do you communicate/share information about your programme with other programme staff? Circle one Daily Weekly Monthly Rarely Never 5.

2 For any of the resources listed above that you are not familiar with. and how often do you use them (Daily. Monthly.3 Would you use a central resource library of print and multi-media resources organised by category? 6. would use them if you knew more about them? 6. Never): Familiarity Yes No Daily Regularity of use Weekly Monthly Rarely Never Staff List serve Intranet site e-Newsletter Annual Reports Books Journals Newsletters Website Staff handbook Programme factsheets brochures Toolkits Photo collection Logo and style guide Other: ____________________________ 6.1 What area of the organisation’s internal communications needs most improvement? 7.Internal Communication Toolkit 6.1 Are you familiar with the following resources.2 Do you have any suggestions on how to address this? Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.5 Can you think of any other internal communication resources which would be useful to you? 7.0 Identifiable Needs 7.0 Resources 6. Weekly.4 Would you use an Intranet (Internal website)? What features would you use most? 6.org) 24 . Rarely.

5. 3.Internal Communication Toolkit Appendix B Sample Internal Communication Strategy Goal To ensure that individuals/departments within the organisation have access to all the information they require to make informed decisions and maximise their output. 5 French. 10 Spanish. All staff are aware of the organisation’s vision. the communication team will organise a half-day workshop where staff can discuss the organisation’s mission and values as they relate to their work. that will include a section from human resources highlighting and explaining a policy or procedure to staff. Staff understands and knows how to follow all policies and procedures related to his/her job. Staff is familiar with the resources available in. 2 in Johannesburg. 6 managers. Staff outside the main office to be included via teleconferencing Objective #2: • The executive director’s office will coordinate the dissemination of the minutes from management and board meetings by email to all staff • The executive director or another senior management representative will provide an overview of the main Board decisions at a monthly staff meeting Objective #3: • Human resources to develop a staff handbook that includes all the organisation’s policies and procedures. 1 in Seoul Working Language: English Native Language: 15 English. Key messages • Sharing information and collaborating between members of staff is an important activity and is encouraged • Senior management is committed to open and transparent decision-making Audience Total: 35 Composition: 25 staff. 2 in London. All senior management and Board decisions are communicated effectively to staff. 2.org) . • The Communication team to develop a monthly internal newsletter. 4. Objectives 1. and the updates and developments of programmes other than their own. 1 Korean. to be distributed by email. 1 Xhosa. 3 German ICT access: All staff have access to the internet and email on a regular basis Tools and tactics Objective #1: • Human resources will develop a backgrounder on the organisation to be included in all new staff induction packages • Once a year. Staff are able to provide feedback to management through formal channels. The handbook will be distributed to all staff. 3 senior managers and 1 executive director Location: 30 in Mexico City. mission and values and of its key organisational developments. 25 Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.

First issue is 15 February. At each monthly staff Programme managers Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.org) 26 .Internal Communication Toolkit Objective #4: • Each programme manager to include an update on their programme or a profile of resources or skills their programme has in the monthly internal newsletter • Each programme manager to provide an update on their programme at the monthly staff meeting • Editors of programme newsletters will ensure their newsletter is distributed to all staff Objective #5 • The chair of the monthly staff meeting to ensure that there is ample time for staff to provide feedback on the items presented • The senior manager to circulate the agenda for upcoming board meetings to give staff the opportunity to submit their feedback on issues • Human resources to organise the election of a staff representative to advise management and board discussions Implementation plan Tactic Objective #1: Backgrounder on the organisation for inclusion in all new staff induction packages a half day workshop where staff discuss the organisation’s mission and values as they relate to their work Objective #2: Dissemination of the minutes from board and management meetings Overview of the main Board decisions at a monthly staff meeting Objective #3: A staff handbook Internal newsletter with policy and procedures section Objective #4: an update on the programmes in the monthly internal newsletter An update on the Responsibility Human resources manager Communication manager Timeline Completed by 30 January First workshop to be held on 1 March and then yearly thereafter Executive director’s executive assistant Executive director or another representative of senior management Human resource manager Communication manager/human resource manager Programme managers Within 1 week following each meeting To be done at the first monthly staff meeting following each board meeting To be completed and sent to staff for feedback by 1 May First issue to be disseminated on 15 February To be submitted to Communication team 2 days before the newsletter is disseminated.

org) 27 .Internal Communication Toolkit programmes at the monthly staff meeting Distribution of programme newsletters Objective #5 Ensure that there is ample time for staff to provide feedback on the items presented at the staff meeting Circulate the agenda for upcoming board meetings Election of a staff representative to advise management and board discussions meeting Editors Human resource manager Immediately following the release of each issue At each monthly staff meeting Senior manager Human resource manager At least one week prior to board meeting Election to take place on 10 February Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus.

growth and protection of citizen action throughout the world.org Blog: http://civicus. 2135 South Africa Tel: +27 11 833 5959 Fax:+27 11 833 7997 1112 16th NW. committed citizens in confronting the challenges facing humanity. The topics range from budgeting.org. 20036 USA Tel: +202 331-8518 Fax: +202 331-8774 Email: info@civicus.O. Box 933 Southdale. www.C. CIVICUS envisions a worldwide community of informed. Suite 540 Washington D.civicus. For more information about CIVICUS: CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation 24 Gwigwi Mrwebi (formerly Pim) Street.civicus. to developing a financial strategy and writing an effective funding proposal.Internal Communication Toolkit CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is an international alliance established in 1993 to nurture the foundation.civilsocietywatch.org and on CD-ROM. especially in areas where participatory democracy and citizens’ freedom of association are threatened. corner Quinn Street Newtown. These CIVICUS Toolkits have been produced to assist civil society organisations build their capacity and achieve their goals. www. in MS-Word and PDF format at www.civicusassembly.civiblog.org Internal Communication Toolkit by Jessica Hume (Please email feedback to info@civicus. inspired. strategic planning and dealing with the media. Johannesburg 2001 South Africa P. All are available on-line.org Web: www.org) 28 .

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