Building (and Rebuilding) a Communications Team

Building an Internal Communications function is a critical and challenging task – and it doesn’t stop when cubicles are filled and business cards get printed. It’s an ongoing process to adapt and evolve your team to meet a company’s needs.

We’ve always loved developing and leading Communications teams, for both consulting clients and companies where we worked full-time. It’s complex but rewarding work, and we’ve learned many lessons we can share with other companies – whether you’re establishing a new Internal Communications team or rebuilding an existing one. Some examples:

  • There is no “right way” to structure an Internal Communications function.
    The best way to form a successful team is to determine how best to support your company’s business strategy and operations, and that will vary among companies. For example, we have developed Communications teams structured around:

    1) Internal audiences with whom the company needs to communicate
    2) Executives and teams who have an ongoing need to communicate
    3) Vehicles the company uses to communicate
    4) Services that Internal Communications provides the business

    The key is to choose one structure rather than a muddied combination, ensuring your team has clear goals and responsibilities.

  • The team structure, roles and processes must flex with the needs of the business.
    Company priorities change, executives join or depart, strategies ebb and flow. That isn’t to say a function should reorganize with every change that comes down the pike. But if your Communications capability is operating with the same roles and structure it had two years ago, it may be time to reassess the team’s effectiveness.
  • Keep it organized and logical.
    The function has internal customers to serve, like the leader who needs to talk about the impending merger or the Security team who needs to communicate a process change. If they don’t know the person to call, your structure is too complicated. A good test is to ask each of your Communications employees “who are your customers?” You should get clear answers with little overlap.
  • Hire well.
    Successful team members should naturally be inclined to follow guiding principles and operating processes. They also need to possess the willingness and ability to learn new ways of working. That means you need a team of professional communicators who are creative and adaptable – but can also embrace firmly-established rules and details. That can be a tough combination to find, but with the right hiring strategies and interview questions, you can find those needed skills and traits.


To see other examples of our work, go to Mini Case Studies.

Categories: Mini Case Studies

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