Why Measure Communication?

Good leaders get their messages out loud and clear. But unless they measure the effectiveness of their communications leaders don't know if they're being heard, understood, and believed.

Your employees deal with dozens, maybe hundreds, of e-mail messages every day. Does your e-mail penetrate this blizzard of mouse clicks? If it does, is the message absorbed or just glanced at and forgotten? Is it misunderstood and passed on as rumor? And what's the reaction to it?

No matter what your message is, you can count on the fact that people will put their own spin on it, depending on whether they're old or young, a factory worker or clerical staff, a member of a closely knit workgroup or a large dispersed group, and many other factors. Employees read or hear every communication through their own cultural prism, each with a slightly different distortion. It's not enough to send a message. Measure the response to be sure your message is heard, understood, and believed in the way you intend.

How to measure the effectiveness of your communication:

  • Before communicating, find out which communication channels are preferred by your various employee groups and for which types of messages (e.g., e-mail, company intranet, meetings with supervisors, presentations by the CEO).
  • Decide how to obtain benchmark assessments, generally through focus groups or formal or informal surveys, and establish time periods for measuring results of your communications.
  • Hold periodic focus groups to guage understanding, hone in on communication problems or rumors, or identify topics and language for employee-wide surveys. Focus group participants are also good resources for problem solving.
  • Survey your various employee "populations" to find out if the message you are sending is the same as the message they are hearing, to clarify understanding or feelings about a specific topic, and to see trends in levels of understanding and belief. Employees can complete concise surveys easily and quickly with little effect on productivity. For large organizations, surveying random group members gives you sufficient measurement. Don't overburden employees with surveys. Too many can cause disengagement, where results are skewed by apathy or cynicism.
  • Use third parties to gather information from employees when possible. Employees are much more willing to tell the truth when they are certain of anonymity.
  • Report an overview of findings to all employees who have participated in focus groups, surveys, or other forms of communication measurement. This emphasizes that you are listening.

Although integrity, perseverance, teamwork, leadership and other essential attributes of culture defy measurement, communications to employees, customers, and other stakeholders can and should be measured in objective and comparative terms. You can measure:

  • How communication relates to strategic direction
  • The effectiveness of various types of messages with different groups
  • The progression of awareness, understanding, acceptance, and commitment
  • Changes in:
    • attitude
    • trust
    • levels of engagement
    • productivity
    • attrition
    • customer retention

Communication is the bridge between business strategy and its successful implementation. Quantifying its effectiveness is as important as any other business metric.

© Evergreen Communication