How can internal communications support the IT team?
A common misconception around IT departments. But how can internal communications help?
Internal communications is the glue that keeps departments, stakeholders, and organisations together and talking. You might not always be able to tell that it’s there, but you can see when it's missing.
The same can be said about the IT team. But without the support of internal communications, it becomes difficult to explain the wizardry of the IT department to those who aren’t tech specialists.
Luckily there are many ways in which internal communications can support your IT team to be more visible and approachable, and we’ve listed some below.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
From a business continuity and success perspective, it’s fundamental that all departments within an organisation communicate. Imagine that the marketing and sales departments are preparing for the launch of a new product, but IT is planning an operating software update to take place at the same time. It seems clear that these major plans need to be, and are, communicated between departments. But it’s very often the case that communication is taken for granted and assumed.
For this reason it’s especially important that the IT department can tell everyone its plans so that everyone is on the same page. Internal communications can support IT here to get the right messages to the right people.
Internal communications can also help to go beyond communicating the operational side of IT, by meshing the department’s work with the overall business strategy. This helps to show why certain proposals to IT get a ‘no’, or why particular investments are prioritised over others.
Having the ability to communicate and hear what’s going on within the organisation, and make changes to suit, ensures there is a clear two-way dialogue. Internal communication is your partner here.
A sense of purpose
The IT department carries a lot of responsibility by keeping your organisation up and running and safe from cyber criminals. But keeping IT running is everyone’s responsibility. From staying vigilant when receiving unsolicited emails, to keeping devices in good health, everyone has to do their bit.
Employing effective internal communications makes it much easier to bestow a sense of responsibility for IT on people outside of the department.
Whether it’s changing work processes as part of the new digital strategy, or removing old devices which pose cyber security risks, sharing the overarching objectives of the IT department with the rest of the organisation helps everyone to work towards a common goal. This increases internal support for, and understanding of, the department and its activities.
Effective internal communication starts with knowing your audience. Your messages must be tailored to an appropriate level of understanding, use Plain English, and suit your company tone of voice and brand (your culture, values, and purpose all wrapped into one).
IT messages can sometimes be complicated, jargon-heavy and written in a passive voice. Luckily, thoughtful internal communications can easily help the IT team to lose jargon, in-phrases, and to simplify language to increase understanding of the messages which are put out.
This gives people on the outside of the IT department greater accessibility to the information that they need to know, with the added benefit of reducing communication fatigue.
Support in times of crisis
Internal communications play a huge role during a crisis. With four in ten UK businesses reporting cyber security breaches or attacks between March 2020 and 2021, where could effective internal communications be more crucial than the IT department?
When a crisis hits, internal communications help to reduce uncertainty and slow down panic. Furthermore, knowing that your people can rely on an internal source of information in an IT crisis puts you in control of the message. You can act quickly to keep your employees calm and informed, and your reputation protected.
So what are the benefits?
Internal communications can benefit the IT department in a number of ways.
Firstly, it bridges a gap between the IT department and the rest of the business. It allows you to get your message out there and be heard, but also listen to the conversations you create and the responses you receive.
Internal communications also gives the IT department a clearer sense of purpose for outsiders looking in. What are they really up to? Are they ‘monitoring portals and checking for criminal activity’? Or are they ‘implementing the new cyber security strategy as part of the business’s digital transformation project, which brings many benefits to my role’? One of those sounds better to us!
Moreover, internal communications helps IT to become accessible to all. Without the jargon, everyone can understand the message.
Lastly, internal communications becomes a key partner in crisis communications. Given the nature of cyber security this is a matter of when, and not if. Being prepared and having a trustworthy and internal source of information can make all the difference in the midst of a crisis.
So, do you send out tweets to let users know when the service is up, down, and why? Do you have an FAQs page that they can go to before they call IT to resolve a problem they’re having? Do your IT managers meet up with counterparts around the organisation on a regular basis to share what you’re working on and hear about their developments too? Does IT produce a regular bulletin or blog sharing news, projects, successes and so on that can receive comments that you can respond to?
All these and many more internal communications mechanisms can ensure that the IT department is on everyone’s radar, and that IT and stakeholders work most effectively together.
Need some help with setting up an internal communications strategy for your IT department? Why not get in touch to arrange an informal meeting. Send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website insideoutconsulting.co.uk.