Where should internal communications efforts be focused?

shutterstock_129038351I was part of an interesting discussion recently where internal communications was being debated. It was revealed that only 40% of staff were engaged with the communications coming from the corporate centre.

The conversation focused on what could be done to engage better with the other 60%. What mediums should be used? What tone and style? Should it be online? What about those without computer access?

I jumped in, slightly provocatively perhaps, to ask why you would want to that. Perhaps there’s a bigger issue here, which is that probably 40% of people paying attention to internal corporate communication is about right, and nothing could really be done to change that more than a couple of percentage points either way.

Maybe it’s the case that 60% of workers in a large organisation just don’t care that much. They come to work, do their job, and then go home and do the stuff they are really interested in. I’m not being critical, it’s just that different people have different priorities.

It might sound insane to the readers of this blog, but not everyone gets excited about the idea of transforming local government!

Instead of spending time and resources chasing after this large group of people, who, with the best will in the world, couldn’t care less about the new corporate strategy, perhaps it would be best to focus that energy on those who actually want to talk about this stuff.

In other words, who are your 40% of enthusiastic, motivated people? How do you find them? What do they want from you, in terms of communication and engagement? Give it to them!

Yammer is a good example here. Someone said in the discussion referred to above that not that many people were active on Yammer. That’s an experience across a load of organisations I know who use that particular tool.

However, those people who use Yammer are likely to be positive about change, curious about new tools and ways of working, willing to experiment and to go beyond the usual ways of doing things. I’d say they are exactly the sort of people that a corporate centre would want to have on-side, engaged with what’s going on in the organisation.

What do people think? I’m not actually saying to stop trying to communicate with everyone, just that putting extra effort to persuade people to do something they don’t really want to do might not be a good use of precious resources.