By Elizabeth Hughes, www.elizabethhughes.co.nz
I just read an excellent article by Vincent Heeringa in the May/June edition of Idealog. He is writing about ‘innovation’. And I quote:
“Talking about innovation is the same as talking about sex: the people talking about it ain’t the ones doing it.” The same is true for ‘internal communication’.
Everyone talks about it (and lots of people think they are expert at it) but very few people – particularly those who should be – are actually ‘doing it’. Vincent goes on to say [as in sex] “hot crazy, repeatable hay-rolls are the result of a happy relationship, not of a hay-roll strategy.” This is also true for internal communication – even though, unlike innovation, it is constant.
Internal communication happens all the time (think the water cooler for ‘swapping stories’, the intranet for ‘boring stuff’ and email – best used for back stabbing) and yet everyone complains it is not being done enough – or the right way – or pointing the finger at the communication team (you) for failing to deliver better internal communication.
One of the most common questions I get is along the lines of…. “I’ve just been appointed the Internal Communication person [insert position here] and my boss wants me to come up with an internal communication strategy/plan that will improve staff satisfaction. Where should I start?”
Well, as Vincent says, it starts with a happy relationship, not a ‘hay-roll strategy’.
So you start by looking at the boss. If the boss of your organisation is a leader who truly values their people, and understands and demonstrates that worthwhile, effective and authentic communication is modelled from the top, then you have a head start. If they are a ‘less capable’ leader then maybe you need to consider having a conversation with them about the ‘hay-roll strategy’ and what they see their role being in delivering it.
You also need to consider how all staff can take action and responsibility for ‘successful internal communication’. How can they be part of this ‘happy relationship’? Your job, as the communication professional being tasked with the job of writing the strategy/plan, will firstly be to ensure your boss and staff understand that just putting in place a few new processes or products to deliver ‘internal communication’ will not trump individual responsibility.
An internal communication strategy will only under-pin and/or exaggerate what already exists – it doesn’t, on its own, create or make successful internal communication (the ‘hot, crazy repeatable….’) happen.
These three areas and more will be central to the PRINZ course ‘Successful Internal Communication’ presented by Elizabeth on Tuesday, 1 July. Limited spaces remaining – book now.
More about Elizabeth Hughes
Elizabeth Hughes has worked in public and private sector communication for 25 years. Her career covers a number of small to large councils, Local Government New Zealand, government departments and work for NZ Police, Civil Defence, Ministry for the Environment, Department of Building and Housing, Children’s Commission, Elections NZ and Department of Internal Affairs.
Drawing on experience working with staff from both small and large organisations she is best known for innovation and communication achievements in the local government and public sectors. Elizabeth has a degree in environmental management and post-graduate qualifications from the Melbourne Business School in communication and managing business relationships.