Friday, October 06, 2006

Where can I find models of metrics to use for communications measurements? My company is big on metrics and measurements. As the new Communications Manager, I want to start off with benchmarks and measurement tools in place.

Hey, I got a comment! Thanks, Lawrence.

First, let me say that I have not written a book. I've made exactly one presentation at a conference. I'm not a paid measurement consultant, nor do I carefully follow the thinking of those who are. There may be great models out there, but I'm not familiar with them.

[Alright, let's do some research, by which I mean Google. I'll search "measuring internal communications." Hmmm. Melcrum will sell you a 210 page report. I'm sure it's excellent. Call me when you finish it -- next June is pretty good for me if you've finished by then.

For a change, let's NOT be snarky for a second. Check this string out. I've not read it yet but I will. It's a discussion on isixsigma.com titled "Examples of Measuring Internal Comms Messages." I bet you get some nuts-and-bolts information there.]

But you posted your question on my blog, so I'll give you my answer.

Models are not easy to come by because there isn't a lot of standardization in this area. I think that's OK, because your metrics should be tied to your goals. If you have standard goals, you will probably be able to find standard measurements.

However, I'll bet you have goals that are unique to your role, or to your view of what's important in internal communications. If you read some of my early posts, you'll know that I'm interested, mainly, in two key questions:

One: Did you get this message?
Two: If yes, through what vehicle?

This, for me, is the blocking and tackling part of metrics. Which vehicles are effective at delivering my messages? From that, I can figure out which vehicles to promote, which to deemphasize, which are used by different audiences and so on. (I like some demographic questions in the mix, too.)

I don't believe in asking people how they want to get their messages. Everyone will tell you that front line managers are the best way to communicate. For me, it would be Angelina Jolie whispering the corporate strategy into my ear, but that's not going to happen. Probably not. OK, not. And you are probably not going to be able to control what front line managers do, either. Get over it.

So, the approach above will help you understand your vehicles. The questions go like this:

* "Did you learn lately of a new employee health plan offering?"
* "If yes, how did you hear? Check all that apply."

Then you list your main vehicles, and some others, grouping where possible. For example:
* Company newsletter
* Company home page
* Department e-mail newsletter
* Directly from my manager
* Town Hall meeting
* External news source
* Peer
* Can't remember/don't know

You will think of more options, but try and group them if possible to avoid 20 options. More than 10 is a lot. Also, the external sources are important. (Stop me if you've heard this.) We asked "Have you heard about the increasing costs of health care?" a few years ago and more than 80 percent of respondents said yes, from external news sources. That took a big educational task off of our plate in advance of increasing health care costs. The networks had done it for us.

There is a separate question of the impact of the messages when they do get through. How do people feel about those messages? How do they feel about the leaders who delivered them? Next time, on Stand On A Box!

1 comment:

Pat May said...

Thanks for this blog. I'm looking for insights from people experienced with measuring employee communication. I'm running a community (www.whyiz.net) for communication practitioners in Denmark and for the past many months, measuring has been on the agenda. The way we deal with measuring internal communication, leaves me with the feeling that we're missing a point here. With all due respect - I find it admirable that you do an effort to measure the effect of your channels. But is it enough? I think not. What starts irritating me is that the evidence that communication is an important business enabler is growing but we, the practitioners, seem to have no notion how to put this to work for us. We're hired to make a difference in our organizations. That difference in essence is to influence behavior. Behavior has an effect on business measurement like employee retention, customer retention, sales, new bizz etc. What I want to find out is how far can you go with pure metrics to connect input (communication) with output (organizational results that are measured on the 'bottom line'). I have a few ideas but they are far from finished yet. I wish to discuss this though with people that are interested in this topic, like you.