Communication audits for organizations

“Communication is what happens to organizations while they are busy making other plans.”

Communication audits are powerful tools that can revolutionize the way an organization communicates its employees and with its external constituents. A communication audit strips away myths and illusions about how well your organization communications and, it well done, provides an accurate diagnosis of the organization’s communications health.

The Handbook Of Communication Audits For Organizations, Edited by Owen Hargie and Dennis Tourish (Routledge, 2002, 2002, 2004), provides an exhaustive look into the many ways audits can be planned, executed, and evaluated. Articles by several contributors examine the strengths of various tools including the questionnaire, the interview, the focus group, and data collection log-sheets, among others. Several studies examine audits of a healthcare organization, a paper mill, a catholic disocese, and a major beverage company, among others.

External audits provide a rounded picture of the communication climate facing a given organization. They provide a standard against which the internal operations can be assessed; they measure outcomes that are significant to the organization; they monitor the social, political and business environment; and they allow one to compare consumer attitudes towards an organizational culture with what employees think is an ideal culture.

Whether internal or external, audit strategy should be ongoing, describing the business challenges that exist, their relationship to communication variables, and the best practices the organization is attempting to employ.

The editors note that, because technology is changing the ways organizations communicate with their publics, communicators should keep abreast of the impact of those changes. Organizations are increasingly called on to provide customers with access to information resources. The lines between internal and external organization parts are growing thinner.

But rather than trying to force communication to the top of management’s already crowded agenda, the editors advise, communication strategy should be linked to what is already dominating that agenda.

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