Recruiting a skilled and diverse team to support your internal communications strategy will maximize the impact of your efforts.
As internal communications evolve beyond static intranets, email newsletters, and top-down messages, an organization’s communications team structure must also change. Expanding your approach to additional channels helps ensure all employees receive important company information in a way that suits their needs.
As your approach changes, your team will need to grow to support new platforms, it’s critical to have a strategy for how each platform will be maintained. Understanding the tasks and roles necessary to make the most of communication platforms is essential to building the right team for your company. No two teams will look exactly alike.
When planning an internal communications team structure, consider the size of your organization and number of channels, and adapt the suggested roles to fit your specific needs. It’s possible that one employee has the skills and expertise to fill multiple roles outlined, so combine functions or make adjustments as necessary to create the right team. Some suggested roles require less time commitment than others; you can delegate these tasks to managers or others without the need for a new hire.
Below are a few critical roles to have on any internal communications team. These roles are charged with many of the day-to-day aspects of planning and executing an internal communications strategy.
Communications team structure starts with a great coach
Every great team starts with an active coach. Selecting the right person for the top position is crucial. Within your communications team structure, this person will be responsible for planning, executing, and measuring the impact of your strategy.
Larger organizations may have a single employee with an internal communications title to serve as coach. In other organizations, someone within the public relations, marketing, technology, or human resources department may fill this role.
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An ideal coach should have considerable communications and reporting experience. They will be responsible for presenting strategy and results to executives and key stakeholders within an organization.
Coaches should also be able to clearly communicate the vision, goals, and important projects to other team members. This role will have the most significant time investment since they will be responsible for the strategy, implementation, and management of your team.
A strong starting lineup to execute your plays
Next, fill your team with offensive players. Managers and long-term employees are often great candidates for these roles. These employees will serve as administrators for each of the communities or channels created for employees. The number of team members you will need depends on your organizational structure and your internal communications strategy.
If you have department specific communities or channels, a manager or assistant within that department could be an ideal candidate for this role. Employees that care about communication and naturally share information with others are good candidates for these positions.
The primary role of your offensive squad is to execute the regular messages outlined in your internal communications content plan. They may also have some light administrative duties related to scheduling or maintaining your channels. Generally, these tasks should take 30 minutes to an hour per week, depending on the cadence prescribed in your content plan.
Cheerleaders keep employees engaged
Every organization has employees that are natural influencers who are often not part of management or leadership team. These team members are ideal cheerleaders and champions within your organization, sharing information around water coolers and in conversations with peers. However, don’t make the mistake of assuming these employees will continue these behaviors online.
Invite these informal employee influencers to check your channels and communities regularly and chime in wherever it feels natural. Having a few designated cheerleaders in each group will help keep conversations flowing and can lend a hand to those leading the community if things get busy. For maximum impact, be sure to recruit employee influencers from across all departments to be cheerleaders on your digital platform.
Share a bit of the overall strategy with these influencers so they can advocate on the digital platform and in face-to-face interactions with other employees. Since the primary task for these cheerleaders is to encourage others through their own active participation, their time commitment is very small, often less than an hour per week.
Defense is the best offense
Finally, it is time to fill your defensive squad. While you may not like to think about what issues may arise, it’s best to plan and be prepared. When filling your defensive team, consider all the departments that could be involved in crisis communications.
Recruit a designated person from legal, technology, or any other departments to assist with communications when unplanned events arise. Having a detailed content plan is critical for communicators. However, every organization experiences unexpected events that require communication from time to time.
Whether it’s an unexpected power outage or inclement weather, building a communications team structure with a defensive strategy in place will help expedite emergency messages. Ideally, these defensive roles should attend strategy and brainstorming sessions. Not only do they bring unique insights to these discussions, but they can also help develop a process for emergency communications before it is needed.
Your process should dictate who writes the messages, who needs to approve them, and which contacts in each department need to be notified first. This will make it easier to get urgent messages delivered to employees quickly.
Your defensive squad may primarily ride the bench. This team may only activate when their expertise is needed. They may only invest a few hours towards communications each quarter; attending strategy meetings or to lending a hand during unexpected situations.
As with other areas of internal communications, a little planning can go a long way to improve the impact of your messages. Recruiting the right people for your internal communications team as you expand your strategy can help you step up your communications game.