What is a Communication Audit?
Communication Audit, as the name itself suggest, is a systematic and dynamic process which the business undergo, to examine, observe and evaluate the quality and effectiveness of the information flow, as well as to give recommendations and improvements, which are important for the organizational communication, as a whole.
Further, the quality and effectiveness of communication rely on the following:
- Organization Structure: It includes channels and means of communication, in terms of the length of the transmission path.
- Organizational Culture: It encompasses the procedure followed, standard behaviour and language or tone used while communication.
- Communication Assets: It entails the quality and quantity of the transferred message in terms of validity, suitability, completeness and relevance.
- Members involved: It covers the stakeholders involved in the process of communication, be it, employees, managers, or other outside parties such as suppliers, creditors, etc. to know their communication skills.
The nature of the communication audit to be conducted will solely depend on the type of the organization, along with its needs and problems.
Objectives of Communication Audit
The objectives of the communication audit have been boiled down in the points below:
- To diagnose the current communication practices
- To test the consistency in communication.
- To acknowledge the communication barriers and gaps.
- To check the effectiveness of vertical (upward and downward), horizontal and diagonal communication.
- To measure the satisfaction of employees with internal communication.
- To identify the employee’s role in the process of communication.
In finer terms, it is a comprehensive analysis of the internal and external communication, that takes place in an organization, to ascertain the communication needs, policies, methods and practices.
Need for Communication Audit
We all know that communication takes place internally or externally in an organization. Internal communication involves communication between/with employees, managers, executives, etc. As against external communication is with the clients, customers, suppliers, shareholders, government, media houses, etc.
If the internal communication is faulty, it may result in errors, mistakes, wastages, discouraged staff, and high employee turnover. In the same way, if the external communication is weak, it can badly ruin the reputation and sales of the company.
That is why, communication audit is important as it is not just informative and descriptive but it is also remedial because highlights the snags and gaps in the communication flow and the channels of communication.
It determines the strengths and weaknesses of internal and external communication. It carefully analyses the messages conveyed and the flow of the messages, within and outside the organization and also the way they are interpreted by the members or the outside parties.
Techniques used in the Communication Audit
The seven techniques or methods used to conduct a communication audit are:
- Observations: In this method, the auditor monitors the communication flow and process, in an organization by sitting on the team meetings, interviews, discussions, along with the informal gatherings such as tea breaks, lunches, etc. so as to deeply analyse the communication climate.
- Interviews: In this method, in-depth one-to-one interviews with random employees are conducted, which provides accurate and valuable data. However, this method is a bit expensive and consumes much time.
- Questionnaires: One of the most efficient methods of conducting a communication audit, with respect to time. It covers all the employees of the concern. A questionnaire contains a number of questions written or printed with various alternative answers, provided to the respondents who need to mark the answers and submit the same to the audit team.
- Critical Incidents: Its aim is to concentrate on the real behaviour of the employees while handling a particular situation or event, often non-recurring one. The auditor can also use critical incident questions in interview and questionnaires, to make it more effective.
- Network Analysis: Network analysis determines when, how, where, from whom, and to whom information flows in the organization. It also checks if the information is distorted in the path. By doing so, disparities in the process are disclosed.
- Content Analysis: A comprehensive and thorough analysis of the content will help in ascertaining the categories of satisfactory and unsatisfactory communication in the organization.
- Communication Diaries: First of all, if this method is chosen by the auditor, commitment is required from all the participants prior to the audit. The participants need to note down every message sent or received, after which the messages are identified as per pre-determined characteristics, which provides a rich and valuable data.