WHERE TO PLACE INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS?
Which department in the company takes responsibility for internal communication? Is it marketing, HR or a staff position in the management?
Many who work in large companies may shrug their shoulders at this question. Isn’t it obvious: Internal Communications is handled by the internal communications department or corporate communications. However, in medium-sized companies – even if they have several thousand employees – things often look different. Usually, they do not have an internal communications department. If marketing, HR and management have shared the communication tasks so far, who then takes charge of internal communication? Here are three options to consider:
The third best option: Internal communication within the marketing department
The great advantage of marketing being in charge of internal communication is that these colleagues know all about communication. They can develop a communication strategy, write comprehensible, interesting texts, and know how to develop and use different communication channels. In addition, they are often already responsible for managing the intranet. So, it is logical to place internal communication in the hands of marketing. Isn’t it?
Let’s put it like this: It is the easiest way. However, this does present us with three challenges: Firstly, decision-making on internal issues usually does not lie within the marketing department, but rather within the management or HR. That is why the person responsible for internal communications, together with their superiors and colleagues, must ensure that all internally relevant topics are identified and properly addressed. The second challenge is to balance the needs between public communications and internal communications. Marketing colleagues understand very well the need to present the company to the public in a positive light. Internally, authenticity and the ability to take and respond to criticism is required. Otherwise, allegations of whitewashing could quickly arise. This requires a conscious adjustment between marketing and internal communication. The third challenge is employee participation. If it is not just a matter of distributing information internally, but one requiring dialogue and the exchange of views; different procedures or methods will be needed to achieve employee engagement and better outcomes. In many cases, expertise in internal communications and change management will need to supplement regular marketing approaches.
The second-best option: Internal communication within the HR department
In the HR department, the situation is often reversed. Awareness of the culture, values and development of the organisation is well developed. HR is right at the source of many issues. There is close collaboration with all departments and teams.
The involvement of employees is a top priority. There is usually sufficient experience with corresponding formats of organisational development such as surveys, workshops etc. In return, the knowledge in communications and other technical fields must be built up here. Depending on the available specialists, this is possible, but may not be easy.
The best option: Internal communication as a management staff unit
Internal communication will become more effective when it is declared a top priority and is placed under the management as a staff unit. Depending on the qualifications of the person responsible, knowledge of other areas such as HR and marketing must be built up here as well, but communications is at the core. From our experience this is the best option. This approach ensures that internal communication is closely linked to all relevant topics. Being embedded in the management structure, internal communications is thus best positioned to develop awareness of the strategy among the executive board and top management.
Here too, of course, there is a disadvantage: the risk that internal communication could settle comfortably in the ivory tower and drift away from the employees. An actively cultivated internal network – whether informally as personal contacts or as a formal IC community – can help prevent this.
But no matter where internal communication is located in your company, the most important thing is that it exists! If recognised, you can make full use of the opportunities it offers as an effective management tool. Are you unsure where internal communication should be in your company? We would be happy to guide you through the decision-making process. Let us talk about it.
*Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash