Insights, Internal Communication Strategy

Six things #internalcomms professionals can do to raise our game


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, those C-suiters I’ve spoken with who do value #internalcommunication 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 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.

And if you want to talk about it, send me a note at mike.klein@changingtheterms.com

Insights

Leadership Positioning: amplifying the impact of the ambitious leader

When people hear about “business communication,” they often think it’s about “the business”: numbers, institutional announcements and soulless statements.

In my experience, it’s stories by and about individuals that get the attention, shape ideas and accelerate the flow of influence. I’ve found this to be true in organizations and even in communities and markets.

The business world is not monolithic. It is populated with individual leaders at all levels with objectives, visions and ambitions. These leaders have unique perspectives, personalities, interests and future plans which, when shared appropriately, can help provide traction – for their business initiatives, their desires to move onto new career tracks, and for efforts to rejuvenate relationships with internal influencers.

Leadership positioning has been a big part of my years of internal communication experience. Indeed, through profile articles, opinion pieces, social posts, audio and video bites, and rich feature articles putting initiatives and future plans into context and amplifying the role of leaders, it’s where I’ve had the most impact in the companies where I have worked.

It’s also increasingly interesting from an external communication perspective – particularly to support senior execs in making their cases for taking on new challenges, and establishing their credibility as experts and advocates beyond their current networks.

As we move into a period of likely economic uncertainty, leadership positioning also has the potential to give individual leaders in transition the opportunity to differentiate themselves in what could become a crowded market.

From an internal communication perspective, a strong approach to leadership profiling delivers three additional benefits. Two are fairly obvious. It can humanize senior management, it can surface and showcase emerging leaders and initiatives.

The third is pure ninja: it’s one of the best ways a communicator – and a communication team – can get a senior leader to see the power and value of a serious communication approach.

The main thing – writing and communication strategy are not core competencies of most C-suiters or senior managers, who are otherwise very strong and powerful in other disciplines.

So when these leaders are willing to seek and accept help, we can elevate their storytelling and messaging to the level of their own core competencies.

When we do that for them, we don’t have to be as defensive about ROI (Return On Investment). They start to believe in our LOI (Level of Impact). And when we succeed on that front, we literally change the terms.