As seen by this piece in London’s PR Week, the raging debate over who should “own” internal communication continues to rumble on predictable lines.
“Should it be HR”?
“Should it be comms?”
“What’s best for the ‘employee engagement’ agenda?”
I have no definitive answer. But I do have a strong opinion.
Internal communication should be owned by the leader who has the most motivation and the clearest objectives for its use.
Sure, there’s a lot of concern for the ‘employee engagement’ agenda, and that often falls under HR’s remit.
But ‘employee engagement’ is not the only important item on an organisation’s overall agenda.
And there is considerable dispute about whether “employee engagement” should be an objective for its own sake, or thought of as a collection of behaviors, attitudes and processes and interventions which can be adjusted to aid the fulfillment of specific individual and organisational goals.
As a practitioner, there is nothing like working for a motivated sponsor.
Prestige-wise, it may sound better to report to the CEO. Culturally, perhaps to Comms. Ideologically, perhaps to HR.
But if the real action in your organisation is going on in Finance, Commercial, or IT, and the organisation’s success depends on real engagement, commitment and delivery of the changes in that area, isn’t it better to work for a sponsor who has real skin in the game, and can see IC as a key to his or her success? A sponsor who will fight to give IC the resources, remit and headroom to get the job done?
Aligning Internal Communication towards the highest point of organisational need instead of the most natural organisational fit doesn’t simply change reporting lines. In setting the stage for lower resistance and higher impact, it changes the terms.