By Mike Klein on December 13, 2022
3 minute read

Time To Close The “Feel-Do” Gap -And Make Internal Communication Measurement Real 

Why is it that internal comms measurements have never had the credibility or cachet of being considered “real numbers” by most businesses? 

I’d struggled with this question for years before I decided to take matters into my own hands by creating a measurement masterclass - a course dedicated to giving communication leaders the mindset and tools to find numbers that support the interventions and impact they make in their businesses. 

At the heart of my frustration was the persistent misuse of employee engagement scores as a means of evaluating the effectiveness of internal communications and of IC practitioners, but I could never really articulate the core of my unease. 

But then, in preparing a takedown of the questions in the Gallup Q12 employee engagement survey, I finally had that “A-HA” moment of realization and clarity. 

Businesses and business leaders focus on what people DO, and employee engagement scores focus on how people FEEL.  

That means there’s a “FEEL-DO” gap, which is not to be confused with the far-more-popular “SAY-DO” gaps which account for much discussion about organizational misalignment and non-performance. 

Defenders of the use of employee engagement surveys to gauge the effectiveness of IC and other people functions argue that there’s a “correlation” between employee engagement (positive feelings) and organizational performance (constructive actions). 

But such defenses overlook some potent questions: 

  • Do positive feelings create stronger performance - or does strong performance generate positive feelings?  (Hint, substitute the term “sports team” for “business” and ask “do more wins produce more cheering, or more cheering produce more wins?”) 
  • Do high engagement scores reflect actual employee commitment to organizational priorities or do they reflect appreciation for the organization allowing them to pursue their own agendas without undue interference? 
  • Are the factors measured by engagement survey questions items that IC leaders and teams have any meaningful influence over? (As in, should the IC team start a speed-dating program to generate better response to Gallup’s engagement question “Do you have a best friend at work?) 
  • Is the wording of engagement survey questions designed to encourage positive-feeling answers, especially in low-trust corporate environments?  Even if GDPR actually requires that answers be aggregated to a minimum of seven employees, are employees willing to take chances to share their true opinions - especially on questions that ask“ “Do you know what is expected of you at work?” or “Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?”. 

Fortunately, regardless of the answers to these questions, the best way to avoid the disconnect between measuring feelings to assess impact on actions is to not have to do it at all. 

Replacing “Think-Feel-Do” with “Do-Know-Feel-Say” 

Crucial to moving from the realm of feelings to action - and making internal communication measurement real - is an update of the way we look at communication strategy inside organizations. 

We need to abandon the outdated “Think-Feel-Do” model - an approach that leaned heavily towards seeing employees as a monolithic group and pushing them to think and feel the same way (and measuring mainly on the basis of feelings) - and embrace the updated approach called “Do-Know-Feel-Say.” 

Do-Know-Feel-Say transforms internal communication strategy by putting the focus on targeting and segmentation first - with an emphasis on the things that different groups of people in the organization need to do. It thus allows for unprecedented degrees of tailoring, traffic management, and noise reduction around internal agendas. 

That’s because, in nearly every situation one encounters in an organization, different segments of the population have different action expectations and different informational needs.   

Even when it is impossible to do any sophisticated segmentation analysis - a very basic model once shared angrily by Gen.George Patton can be easily deployed: “LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY” 

Simply identify who needs to “lead”, who needs to “follow”, or and who needs to “get out of the way. Then identify what the people in each group need to actually know, and build the communication strategy out from there.  

I know this flies in the face of some of the pressures around inclusivity in the workplace - and can put you in direct opposition to project managers and stakeholders whose KPIs demand that they must make sure we “keep all employees informed.” 

But even the most rigid project manager can be brought to understand the logic that dictates that those running an initiative need a far richer and nuanced flow of information than those whose main task is to “keep calm and carry on.” 

Aside from transforming internal communication itself, Do-Know-Feel-Say as a framework for IC measurement has the potential to be revolutionary.  

Rather than focusing on a single engagement score and whether it moves from 82% to 82.9% in a given period (and then rewarding or punishing the IC team accordingly) it allows us to measure specific changes - in completed actions, knowledge levels, sentiments and language use - and therefore creates clearer links between comms activities and investments and organizational outcomes.   

But How Does One Bring This New Approach To Life?   

That’s where the Measurement Masterclass comes in.  In a two hour conversation, I take apart the current approach to measuring internal communication and its impact, and offer practical experience in how to collect, analyze, frame and present real data to managers and leaders.  

You might not emerge a total expert - but you will have the ability both to introduce the right questions and use the real data these questions generate.  You’ll also be fully armed to fend off the challenges of those who seek to interfere with you getting the data - and the resources - that you need to make a difference. 

The $395 tuition fee (plus 21% VAT) also includes an optional free half-hour consultation to discuss how you can apply these learnings to your organization’s specific operational or organizational challenges.   

 To register - visit www.changingtheterms.com/masterclass 

 

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