• Tara Humphrey

How to Carry Out a Communications Audit

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

We always need to be reminded that good and effective communication will make us money, will save us time, will improve our outcomes of whatever we are trying to pursue. Effective communication will reduce conflict, spark new ideas and create an environment where everyone feels heard and included. It will help provide clarity. When you've got your communication to a place of being effective, it will help you to move faster, but from a calmer, considered place.

How to Create a Communications Audit

  • Review and identify key stakeholders or key team members.

  • Who are they?

  • Why do we need to communicate with them?

  • And why do they need to communicate with us?

  • How frequently should we be talking? Is it daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly or annually?

  • What channels do we have in place to communicate?

Build your communications audit into your 90 day plan so that it is continually reviewed and developed.

Reviewing Existing Communications

When thinking about methods of communication for clients, this will include meetings, standard agenda items, financial reviews and quarterly business meetings.

There will be tools that you have inside of your business and with your clients to aid your communication. Review which of these is working. Then consider the frequency. Does more frequent equal more effective?

Consider the relationships you have with your stakeholders. Do you feel like you're both singing off the same hymn sheet? This is an opportunity for development. Stakeholder relationships continually need to be reviewed. I don't ever take them for granted.

If they're not working and you need this person, team or business, you must prioritise them, taking the time to build an effective working relationship. Ask them, how often would you like to meet? What communication tools work best for you? Ensure that you both want to move forward together.

Promoting Stakeholder Engagement

What facilitative questions do you need to have up your sleeve to promote effective and more engagement with your stakeholders? What preparation do you need to do before interactions to make sure that they can be as effective as they can be?

In the field of primary care, I work with lots of networks. We have regular monthly meetings with lots of attendees yet sometimes they can be very quiet. As the manager, facilitator, consultant, or clinical director, we don't want to be pulling people together for 90 minutes and hardly anybody engage.

We need to work out what is required to create productive meetings. We must foster a culture that meetings are two-way. They are not designed just for information.

  1. The first step is to prepare! The best meetings happen because of the preparation before the meeting and in the reflection.

  2. Have an agenda.

  3. Constantly asking who, what, why, when and how? to promote conversation and engagement.

  4. Identify the most vocal of the group to help start open communication.

We are all Motivated by People, Performance and Process

You can have all the tools in the world, but it's the mindset and the energy you bring that directs the outcome. Whatever you do is guided and informed by how you feel about yourself, how you feel about the situation and the mindset you want to carry forwards.

The most valuable tool we have is our mindset. We need to choose to use it wisely and use it positively. When thinking about effective communication, try to put yourself in the other person's shoes, to see the world through their lens.

It's not about us. It's always about them, always!

When we approach our communications, thinking, “I need to do this” or “Why will they not do this for me?” you’ve already lost. It is always about them.

What is important to them? What is motivating them? Really listen to the language that they use.

The core strengths assessment uncovers how we are all motivated by people, performance and process. When you bring a mindset of how can I help you, really listen out for what they're saying?

What people words are they using?

What process words are they using?

What performance words are they using?

Acknowledge this and use their language. For example; “I know it's really important that we've got X, Y, and Z in place, and I'm working on this. How else could we move this forward? Or what else would you like to see? Speak to their motivations.

Communications with your Team

Remember to keep your team and those you interact with daily close. Don't skip on these meetings because you think everything is good.

Check-in with your team, particularly if you’re working remotely. Soft communication is really important. It’s the ‘water cooler conversations’, which will aid your work so much more!

I work with lots of primary care network managers, and they are in the process of building their relationship with their clinical directors. They often think it needs to be business all of the time and really want to wow and impress them. But they are people and it’s not work all the time. They will have interests and when you build up a professional friendship, that is when the work done. This will see you overcome mistakes and conflict, because you've got a rapport that means you are comfortable to pick the phone up to them.

I invite you to perform this audit review and identify your stakeholders, the communication channels you use, the frequency and the effectiveness of them. Make sure have a positive mindset. It may be taking 30 seconds to compose yourself before sending an email or entering a meeting. Think about why are we meeting and how can I help others to achieve? This will help you to achieve and listen out for people's motivations around people, process and performance.

This blog accompanies episode 127 on The Business of Healthcare Podcast, “How to create a communications audit.”