Why do you need a communications audit?

Understanding organizational communicative process is empowering, because it allows people to determine which events are their responsibility, those events outside their control and to discover new strategies for responding effectively.  Effective communication is essential to the success of any organization, and it is crucial to understand that how messages sent through organizations are not necessarily the ones received, because the original messages are filtered through the motivations, learning habits, and perceptions of the receivers.  People have histories of past conversations with one another and they bring expectations about future conversations.  These both impact how future conversations will go, and having an understanding of these interpersonal communication dynamics is crucial when analyzing communications within an organization.

A productive way to view organizations is as sites where multiple tensions exist between the organizations needs and the needs of its members.  People have needs for autonomy, creativity, and sociability.  Organizations need efficiency, control and coordination, which require that people sacrifice their needs and instead become more specialized and less independent.  To affect organizational culture change, organizations must find ways to meet their members’ individual needs, while persuading them to act in ways that the organization needs.

One method for measuring the effectiveness of internal communication within an organization is performing a communications audit.   A strategic communications audit has both evaluative and formative value. It is evaluative in that it provides a “snapshot” of where an organization currently stands in terms of its communication capacity or performance. It is formative in that it also points to areas in which the organization can strengthen its performance.

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