Internal comms overhaul at Birmingham Midshires

Former building society Birmingham Midshires has undertaken an internal communications overhaul as the result of a lengthy review instigated last year.

The HBOS-owned bank is currently implementing the final aspects of the review process, sparked by its parent company's annual internal survey.

Internal comms manager Fiona Nelson said the move followed concerns over the lack of e-mail and intranet access for its 900 branch staff, leaving them less informed than the 1,300 employees at the company's Wolverhampton HQ.

'We became aware that the level of understanding of the company's aims and our direction varied greatly between business areas. It was obvious things were not right and messages were getting distorted like Chinese whispers,' she said.

According to Nelson, the thrust of the review has been to place person-to-person briefings at the centre of Birmingham Midshires' internal comms strategy: 'In the past we always used to rely on print bulletins. Now we're getting important messages briefed face to face.'

A key element of the new strategy is the ongoing training of 150 managers to enable them to brief staff more effectively and communicate the firm's messages more clearly.

'We didn't target managers on seniority as much as on the responsibility and exposure they have to people at the coal face. We needed to help them find a news peg to make information more relevant and accessible to staff,' added Nelson.

The new structure means feedback derived from briefings is then used to determine the content and nature of the next communication, aiming to ensure that the 'big picture' corporate messages remain relevant to all staff in the organisation.

The firm worked with external consultants Synopsis in developing the strategy. Nelson said the budget for the work 'had not been large', as the bulk of its comms work is handled in-house.

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