It’s hard to be ambitious when you are trying to survive. That’s not only true of individuals. It’s also true of fields and professions when they face the pressure of micromanagement and penny-pinching.
That’s our historical baggage as internal communicators.
But it doesn’t have to be our current reality, much less our future.
Indeed, the C-Suite decision-makers and Chief Communicators I spoke with for Happeo’s research into The Present and Future of Internal Communication want IC to be more confident and proactive.
The question is how quickly we can raise our game, and what moving in that direction actually looks like.
From my perspective, there are two main issues: how do we as IC professionals engage with leaders, and how do we change the way we do things, so we can operate more effectively and credibly.
How can we get our house in order? Three tasks
- We need to seize control of the measurement agenda – particularly in terms of measuring impact. Click rates, views and the such like isn’t enough. We need to measure changes in the words people use, the actions people take and the attitudes they incubate. Most importantly, we need to be able to measure and demonstrate the lack of impact of activities that cost unnecessary time and money so we can free up resources.
- We need to make a documented case for investment in the right tools. Employees are used to consumer-grade tools and have limited tolerance for improvised and cumbersome substitutes.
- We need to bring the “3-90 rule” to life: to demonstrate that 3% of employees drive 90% of conversations, so we can get support for Organizational Network Analysis and shift significant communication burdens away from the hierarchy.
How can we get leaders on board in a meaningful way? Three opportunities:
- Ask leaders what a communication intervention is worth to them in real financial terms. Use those money figures to drive prioritization.
- Involve leaders in communication planning and in sharing ownership of processes and outcomes
- Don’t seek an invitation. If you bring a chair and bring the data to justify your place, you can elbow your way to a spot at “the table.”
The IC of the future is not a simple continuation of today’s tactics, priorities and practices. New skills, mindsets and confidence will be required as we go forward.
Recognize that the right help is available – don’t be afraid to look beyond your organizational bubble for help. Consultants and vendors have a lot of experience and insights, and can save you from spending a lot of time and money on heartache and reinvention.
Most importantly, recognize that the future of IC is in your hands.
Managers and leaders have changing demands, but only we can reshape their expectations by clearly defining the benefits of a strategic, tech-savvy and incisive approach.
We can do this.
We just need to aim high.
Mike Klein is Principal of Changing The Terms and an experienced strategist, writer and advocate. To schedule a free consultation, please click here.