The simply top 5 questions to ask in a communication audit

In the throes of communication planning? Here are our top 5 questions to ask in a communication audit.

THE AUTHOR

Lisa Pantelli, head of content & community

Lisa is simply’s head of content and community. She is an award-winning employee engagement and internal communications specialist.

Top 5 questions to ask in a communication audit

A question that is regularly asked amongst our simplycommunity members is whether there is a standard set of communication audit questions.

While we would advise caution in using a standard question template for any audit, as each organisation, comms team and objectives can vary, there are 5 key questions that you might want to consider using as the basis of your audit.

These are based on 5 categories:

  • Communication needs: What matters to our people? What do they want to know and what’s missing?
  • Channels: What channels are people using (or not using) and why
  • Leadership: How effective is leadership in sharing communication through the organisation?
  • Engagement and message testing: What do people do with the information they receive? What’s the impact? What difference are we making?
  • Ambition: where do we want to go? Where are the gaps?

Here, are the top 5 questions we think must be included within any communications or channel audit.

  1. How would you describe the communications you currently receive?

An open or closed question – quantitative or qualitative – I find this question helps to paint a picture of how people feel about communication. It helps us understand the communications ecosystem. It’s a great opener for focus group discussions and worth asking people to describe communications in 1 or 2 words. The results of this can be very powerful. If you’re asking this as part of a survey, you may want to consider asking people to rate various elements of communication e.g. accuracy, timeliness, volume etc. on a 5-point Likert scale; but I would recommend you follow up with qualitative research to delve into the quantitative results from this question.

     2. What communication is most relevant to you in your role?

In organisations of all sizes, there can be a lot of noise. I always find it interesting to understand what type of communication people most want to receive – but perhaps also more importantly, what is relevant to them in their role? If you’ve managed to gather a decent breakdown of demographic data e.g. tenure, function, role etc; you can start to paint a picture of communication needs based on employee personas. If you’re asking this question through focus groups or one-to-ones you can delve a bit deeper into this to understand where they find the information.

  1. Where do you go to find out information about the business?

In one audit I ran, we uncovered over 50 different means of internal communication. And unsurprisingly not all were official channels! Understanding where people go to find the information they need or want helps us understand where the communication gaps are.

It’s common for people to prefer different channels for different types of information, but if people are using external news sources as a means of hearing what’s going on in their business, you know there’s a problem. Intranets and digital workplaces are obviously an enabler of great internal communication, but this can only be the case if people are finding the right information and there’s a clarity of purpose around how it works with other channels.

If you’re looking to undertake a detailed intranet audit, take a look at our intranet audit guide for help.

  1. Do you feel you have the opportunities to ask questions about the communication you receive?

Employee voice. In the times in which we live, never has the need for people to have a say been more important.

It can be so easy to focus on the what (type of communications) and the how (channels) during an audit, often audits forget to ask the audience whether they have the opportunity to ask questions about any news they are receiving. Managers are often the gatekeepers to encouraging conversation within teams but can fall short if they are in the dark on key business announcements or do not understand the role of great line manager communications.

Ensuring there are opportunities for people to ask questions and be heard – be it through the intranet, in person or otherwise, is critical.

  1. I care about the future of the organisation

This is a question that forms part of PR Academy’s ICQ10 audit questions (a great source of audit questions too).

Knowing where we are today is valuable, but planning the road ahead even more so. If people are motivated and engaged with the business, they are more likely to actively seek – or contribute – to great internal communication.

It is very easy to get carried away during the research design process. If you’re issuing a survey, it’s not unusual for colleagues from HR and IT to want to throw lots of questions into the mix too. But, this is time-consuming for both you and the respondent(s), so really try to keep your communication audit questions as focused as possible on the problem (and objectives) you’re trying to address.

If you are in the throes of planning an audit or want to speak to someone to get an idea of where to start – why not get in touch? Or, join the simplycommunity to network with peers and get access to exclusive content such as our communication audit simplyguide, training, and events to support you in your role.

simplycommunity members can find a fuller list of questions in the simplycommmunity. Sign in here.

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