The uniqueness of organisational culture and information behaviours prevent a step-by-step approach being provided (and be wary of them if they are proposed). The two key elements of a communication audit are identifying the mediums for communication and how they are perceived by their users. These two elements can then be split into the following stages:
– identifying the mediums of communication
– understanding the perceptions of the media within the members of the team
– identifying the responses within the organisation to these communications be them actions or inaction
– identify the reasons behind the individuals preferred communication medium
When examining the mediums for communication the scope must be as wide as possible because, whilst many decision makers within organisations may not like it, valuable communication occurs on both official and unofficial channels.
Once again taking a little dig at McLuhan the questions asked of organisation members when starting a communication flow audit should not be limited at first to what medium they get their information from but rather what information they are given and what information they need to seek out. Once you find out what information is valued it is a question of the information gap. Why do they seek out that information? Why is it important? Why is the other information not meeting their needs? The effect of these questions it to provide insight into an individuals communication practices and their perception of a medium for they may be receiving the information they require however it is received upon a devalued medium and automatically disregarded for a more ‘authoritatively’ regarded medium.
Identifying the responses to communication
This stage is difficult to undertake without a clear understanding of the multiple communication channels within an organisation. The reason being that invariably there is a cross over of information. When this cross-over becomes an expectation it may have an effect upon the actions of the individual, for example action is only taken once the information is relayed through a certain channel or not until both channels relay the same information.
There are other impacts upon action and inaction to communication such as individual strategy – a person have their own stategy’s for relaying information to other staff or their staff, they may have expectations regarding others taking action. The possibility of these should also be explored.
Identifying the reasons behind the individuals preferred communication medium
An broad scope must be given in seeking out answers to this element including: a lack of training for using a particular medium, an absence of leadership support, engrained user preferences, organisational/team culture, individual preference.
Hope this helps and ensures a broad scope is taken in your communication flow audit.
Next post: So you’ve done the interviews, collected the surveys, what now? Analysis!