Every organization struggles with metrics — what to measure, how to measure, how often to measure, etc. A lot of advice suggests what internal communications professionals should measure, but they’re missing a key ingredient to really understanding effective communication that supports your company or organization.
The real metric revolves around these questions:
- What does your company think is important? (What are the strategic priorities?)
- Are communications helping your organization meet what’s important? Are communications achieving the desired goal.
That desired goal is key.
Out of those priorities, meet with stakeholders and determine success criteria for each. To determine success criteria, get SMART.
Start with SMART goals
As projects and strategy gets communicated and prioritized, it’s important — then and there — to identify success criteria. How will we know whether your work was successful? You’ve probably heard SMART goals before, but work with your stakeholder to think in terms of communication success as well:
- Specific – What you want to accomplish?
- Measurable – Can it be measured, how?
- Achievable – Can it be achieved?
- Relevant – Does it matter?
- Time-bound – By a specific date or within a time frame?
Desired goal 1: act
Action is one of the most important goals of communication. You want people to change behavior or perform a task for the vast majority of communications. That task can include taking training, signing up for something, completing an online form, etc.
Luckily, many times you can measure whether people are doing what you’ve asked them to do by the deadline you’ve given.
Let’s use the example of getting employees to sign up for benefits.
- Specific: By the employee benefit sign up deadline, 90% of employees will have signed up for benefits correctly.
- Measurable: HR will provide weekly emails so we can continue to tweak messaging and increase communications as needed.
- Achievable: In our metrics, we won’t include people on vacation and have already given a margin that 10% of our employee population will be late or complete their benefits incorrectly.
- Relevant: Yes, it’s important to the business to get our employees registered successfully. Although, it’s not a strategic priority.
- Time-bound: Yes, we’re spending the entire month of October providing benefits information, instructions, and other documents.
In the above strategic priority list, you can measure more strategic things, too — employee turnover, whether the strategic project was completed on-time, how much money you’ve saved, etc.
Desired goal 2: understand
For some communications — such as industry insights, press releases, and financial statements — sometimes just understanding the message is enough. The trick is usually how to prove it.
Let’s use your quarterly earnings as an example. You want to make sure people know what’s happening at your organization, including what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are.
- Specific: 60% of leaders (manager or above) will understand 1) whether we met our targets 2) what were the issues (and why) 3) where we did better than expected (and why) within a month of releasing the earnings.
- Measurable: We’ll measure that information through quarterly surveys leaders take. Results won’t be shared other than in aggregate to ensure anonymity.
- Achievable: Yes, by starting with leaders we believe we’ll make those numbers.
- Relevant: Yes, leaders should know this information. Next year, we’d like them to share this information with their teams.
- Time-bound: Leaders have one month to understand this. Leader meetings should help them with this.
Keep track to be agile and tweak
When you keep on top of metrics, you meet desired goals. That way, you can increase (or decrease) the communication. Perhaps you can even use other tactics.
Sometimes to understand where you may be, you’ll need supporting metrics.
Get online metrics
Supporting metrics may be helpful to identify whether people are acting on information or understanding it. You can (or should be able to) track the following:
- Reading news. Measure the number of people reading the news, including that story (something ElevatePoint News can track).
- Reading emails. Click-throughs, opens – you can tell what employees generally are doing with their emails. If you don’t have access to this, you should.
- Viewing intranet pages. Are people going to the intranet page? How long they’re staying there?
- Collaborating, engaging, providing feedback, and responding. How many people are collaborating online in your intranet or news? How many people answered your surveys and what was the aggregate response? What feedback are you receiving through your anonymous questions? What questions are coming up on your intranet? Are you getting an social chatter on your external presence? In ElevatePoint’s intranet, employees can give each other kudos. Perhaps that’s a key metric for your strategic employee engagement initiative.
You can also team up with departments to get data, such as the above example about benefits, HR provided data. For example, if you invite leaders to listen to the quarterly earnings statement, do you know how many of your company’s employees were listening (within a variant)?
Get offline metrics
You may have communications you’re performing face-to-face (the best kind!). You’ll be able to give quantitative data about them: how many people were there, who was missing, how long the meeting lasted, etc.
Best of all, you’ll get qualitative data. What did people think about the information based on body language? What did they say after the meeting in team huddles? Although it’s not as scientific, it gives you a sense of how people are feeling about things. And that’s important to react to as well.
Every communication has a goal. So does every project and every strategic initiative. You’re showing your return on investment by understanding what’s important to your organization and delivering on it. You may even have supplemental information about how many resources were needed to meet those requirements, especially where you barely met the desired objectives.
But it all starts at a project’s beginning — understanding the real goal behind the communications helps you achieve and measure how to get there.