Enough talk, what does an internal audit look like?


 

Depending on the size of your team, department, or company there are various factors which would influence how to approach conducting an internal communication audit.

Generally the process begins with a conversation with senior leaders to determine what hints they are picking up that some form of intervention is now necessary, and this may only be due to the fact that they have not ever intentionally considered their internal communication.

With a clearer idea of what senior leaders are looking to achieve, I would then start the process by interviewing the individuals which make up the teams that are being audited.

Cant we run it ourselves?


As staff are inherently reliant on their leaders for their employment, it is understandable that they will use mitigated speech (will dilute their opinions) when describing their frustrations and inefficiencies at work, as the very act of naming these challenges may have a negative impact on their job security or career advancement opportunities.

Ideally this would not be that case, and in companies where bold and transparent communication is rewarded, you will invariably find a very active and engaged leadership body driving this culture. For these companies, the need for external consultants is reduced, but not avoided.
New questions will always draw out new answers, and anyone who has spent more than a few months in the same group of people will understand that individuals very quickly take on the assumed behavioural expectations of the groups within which they find themselves, and that prioritising acceptance to the group over the need for transparent and authentic communication is normal.

Value?

The value of an external facilitator, in this process is that it gets around the inevitable complication of leadership not being able to access the fully transparent experience of staff in the company.
 

Find common themes


By comparing the interviews from the individual interviews, themes can be identified and an action plan to improve these areas can be developed.

It may also be necessary to double check these themes against the collective experience in the team to ensure the correct focus areas are worked on.


The added relationship building opportunity between external facilitators and the team means that when new habits are implemented, they will be more easily be accepted due to an existing trust level with the external facilitator.


 

In follow up consultations senior leaders sign off on these attempts to implement new internal communication strategies. As with all habits, changing the ‘normal’ will take more than a few conversations, and this commitment to a longer term intervention doe smuch to increase employee engagement, as they can see that it is not a ‘box ticking’ process but rather comes from an authentic desire on the part of the leaders to improve their teams lives and experience at work.