CommonSense Blog

What Are We Measuring?

By Jack LeMenager | Apr 30, 2013

Businesses today live and die on their return on investment. Companies invest in expansion, marketing, infrastructure and the many other components of the operation. Boards of directors and shareholders want to know whether those expenditures truly bring value and growth.

No component of the business today escapes ROI analysis. To answer that critical question across the many facets of the business requires measurement to gauge whether the money and time spent on something is yielding the intended results.

But when we start measuring what’s happening among the people inside the organization, what are we chasing?

Let’s assume we can get a monthly read on what the employees are looking at on the internal website, how many are viewing what, for how long, what they’re doing with it, who they’re sharing what with, etc. Also, we can discern what they’re chattering about on internal social media.

But what do we do with that information? Do we become obsessive about it? Do we become reactive? Do we become too reactive?

Monitoring employee communications is certainly a critical and potentially valuable capability, insofar as it enables us to respond to employee information needs and adjust what we provide them, when, and through what channels. Beyond that, what are we looking for?

The problem with such monitoring is its potential to entice us to get ahead of ourselves – ahead of a curve that may or may not be critical, a curve that we may or may not be able to define – to make us too smart by half when what we need to be providing to our internal audiences is something far simpler than what analytics might lead us to believe.

At base, employees are just trying to do their job, to be good at it, to get better, to be acknowledged for their contributions, and to be aware of and understand the relentless changes that they and their company must adapt to.

Providing Relevance and Context
As communicators, our primary role then is to provide the context and information to help employees stay abreast of the shifting marketplace and its multiple impacts on them and the company. If we do our jobs well – everything else being equal – then the company thrives, employee attrition stays low, and high quality talent is attracted to the company.

In the alternative case, the business fumbles its opportunities, under-estimates challenges, and fails to meet revenue and profit targets. The best talent leaves and the mediocre remain. Growth and success elude the organization.

Measuring the quality of our employee communications, then, becomes an opportunity to stay on top of and eliminate the gaps in understanding among the internal audience that can fester into poor performance or activities that don’t add value.

Monitoring the conversation inside the organization should be less about numbers and percentages and more about the content and context of that conversation. If our analytics and monitoring allows us to determine whether key messages are resonating or not, then they become truly valuable. They can give us critical and timely guidance to help us adjust our content, relevance, cadence and context to assure maximum effectiveness.

So in that regard, yes, measurement is important and can be valuable. Rather than becoming obsessed with tenths of percentage points that measure intranet traffic, we must focus instead on delivering timely, relevant information and context. In that way, we are contributing to the success of the organization and its people, and delivering return on investment.