The barrel and the bullet

Internal communications

The barrel and the bullet

When conducting employee surveys, one of the common responses is that there needs to be more communication. Companies tick the box and pump out more internal newsletters. Is this enough?

No, it’s never enough.

Internal communications are normally managed by HR managers and / or a communications manager. Those with insight and understanding will use best practices and provide quality communications, some even going to the extent of using brand techniques to excite, captivate, and encourage engagement. Why? Because they treat their employees like customers. They understand the need to connect and influence in the same way that brands do.

The bullet comes from the top.

Yet, employees will still feedback that internal communication lacks and HR gets tasked with fixing it. Should we do it quarterly? Monthly? Change the content? Weekly? These are all factors which should naturally be reviewed but the truth is that HR can only be the barrel. The bullet comes from management and the executive.

Culture, passion, belief, and common purpose.

Top brands have a high level of engagement which is evident in their click through and open rates to newsletters. There is pride of association amongst employees, and this can only come from culture, passion, belief, and common purpose. This in turn can only come from the executive and line management. It follows that HR and the communications manager can aid or support the executive and management but can never do their jobs for them.

Top brands have inspired leadership, let’s call them bullets.

They recognise that internal communications can only thrive off a platform of common vision, behaviour, and values. Otherwise, it falls into a chasm. These essential elements are not HR or communications manager lead functions. Once determined they’ll figure how to implement an internal communications strategy, facilitated by HR and communications managers.

The trusty newsletter is then just one element of an expansive internal communications plan, one important element being coaching managers to communicate with their teams effectively.

But let’s get back to the internal newsletter for a moment. How can the Executive and management team assist employees to become more engaged?

One solution that I’ve seen is simple and costs nothing.

  • As inspired leaders, the Executive can make a big difference. On your way to the lift or a meeting, casually stop an employee and ask the question. “Hi Gary, what do you think about our new campaign we’re running next week? It was in our newsletter last week. We invited feedback – your opinion is important to us”.
  • Or managers taking a minute before starting a meeting with the team, asking the same type of question.

If your employee satisfaction survey is showing low levels of engagement, do some navel-gazing about your culture, vision, and belief system. And of course, what your brand promises and means.


Gary Hendrickse
CEO Sherpa

Sherpa is a brand, design and communications company with a track record of refreshing and building brands, including internal alignment to brand values. Founded in 2006, Sherpa has worked sectors such as financial services, healthcare, pharmaceutical, logistics, retail, legal, technology and IT, and REIT.

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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