Is it now Internal Communication or Internal Collaboration?
— January 20th, 2021
IC teams will need to continue to bend and flex to remain relevant.
Unless you're a defensive character who doesn't like change and enjoys the status quo, you're likely to embrace the ever-evolving role of an internal communicator. In the last decade or so, we have gone from internal journalism, to content curation, to now content enablers. So, what’s next?
I heard a story recently about an organization that has done away with their IC team. Presumably, this is because senior leaders thought the right channels were in place so that people could communicate themselves - e.g. the CEO writing and delivering their own updates and the frontline telling their own story, their way.
This is the first such case I’ve heard of; and although initially it seems troubling, it is simply an extreme example of the evolution of internal communication.
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With employee engagement/experience platforms, employees should write and publish their own content. We advocate transparency, and you don’t get much more transparent than employees having the freedom to share whatever they like, whenever they like – just like people do in their personal lives.
In many organizations, the days of internal communicators interviewing people for stories is either pretty much over or certainly lessening; leadership comms moves swifter and is less scripted (if at all) and leaders can produce and upload their own content to internal or external social media platforms; and anyone can set up and MC a digital all-staff event.
So, if employees are doing or could do ‘most of our work’, what do we do? My sense is that we should focus more on encouraging collaboration. Such as taking responsibility for:
- Ensuring there are the right employee voice mechanisms (surveys, focus groups, forums, etc.)
- Overseeing, reviewing, and introducing (where necessary) the right digital channels to allow for exchanges of ideas (intranets, EE/EX platforms, employee apps, etc.)
- Becoming the go-to people to coach people at all levels on how to communicate better (1:1 coaching, team coaching, digital ‘how-to’ support, etc.)
We will no longer control the message, but we can control the bottle and enable the ingredients to mix well.
It’s unlikely to be long before others query if they need an IC team (or, at least, having as many people in it) as anyone can now be an internal communicator, so the challenge is on to stay relevant.
So, be on the front foot and actively seek opportunities to make a positive difference to your organization.
Even if this means reshaping the focus of your team and giving up some traditional IC tasks.