As internal communications professionals, we can sometimes get stuck in survival mode:
- Simply doing what we’re told because there’s no time to back up the conversation and ask the key questions
- Scrambling at the end of the project timeline to execute on the tactics
- Focusing on top-down communication because that’s what the executives value
- Working in isolation because the necessary relationships with media relations, human resources, and others haven’t been cultivated
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? We want to and can do better, right?
Let’s address 5 key ways we can shift from surviving to thriving in our IC role:
1. Insisting IC is part of the initial strategy.
Depending on how your organization views internal communications, taking this stand can require courage. However, it’s worth it. We know we’re much more effective if we are involved at the beginning of any organizational initiative so we can:
- Ask the strategic questions
- Be an advocate for employees and have time to solicit their insights on the topic
- Determine the best communications strategies and tactics based on employee preferences, not just be doers
- Set ourselves and the initiative up for success by having the time needed to implement the plan, including valuable iterations
Employee communications are critical to the employee experience, so being part of the strategy affects the success of the initiative and the organization.
2. Building good relationships with key team members – IT, HR, etc.
To thrive in our IC role, we’ll need to work closely with our external communications, information technology, human resources, and other teams. Our messages and timing need to be aligned with theirs to help ensure clarity and effectiveness.
This collaboration is much easier if the teams have existing, strong relationships.
- Is it time to schedule lunch with the head of IT to talk about the new technologies available for employee communications?
- Are regular communications scheduled with the public relations, community relations, media relations, and investor relations teams to plan the long-term communications when possible and have response plans for emergencies?
- Are there opportunities to improve the communications process so all key players are in the loop for every project?
3. Connecting to employees emotionally.
When we get busy, we can focus on the facts that need to be communicated – who needs to do what, where, by when and why. And yet, as IC professionals, we know that effective communication is about connecting with employees emotionally. It’s about positively affecting behaviors and the employee experience.
It’s worth investing the time to ensure employees feel heard, valued, trusted and fairly treated through the communications efforts. It’s worth finding the individuals in the organization who have a story of disruption, discontent, satisfaction or success to aid in the communications efforts. Approaching the messages with emotions in mind will help us thrive.
4. Engaging employees in the process.
How do we know how employees feel? It’s critical to ask them. While employees can feel bombarded by company surveys, are we leveraging all the data we have?
Let’s engage employees in solving problems, testing solutions, helping with the communications, etc.
Many organizations have volunteer-based culture teams made up of representatives from various departments whose members can provide insights, guide communications efforts, and help with implementation. What a great way to engage employees and help them thrive too.
5. Knowing your reputation.
If we don’t know what our reputation is as IC professionals or as an IC team, we need to find out – by adding questions into the existing employee engagement survey, by hosting a focus group with high potential employees, by asking trusted colleagues for insights, by ensuring we’re evaluating the success of each of our projects.
Having feedback only helps us get better in our roles, stay up to date on employee preferences, refine our approach with executives, build stronger relationships with our counterparts and thrive!