I had the opportunity to conduct a hands-on workshop for an enthusiastic group of executive PGDM students at St. Joseph’s College of Business Administration on February 19 at Bangalore. Their passion for learning and personal development inspired me.
These were individual contributors and managers with over 5 years of experience in leading IT, pharmaceutical, chemical and FMCG organizations and they chose to do this program late evening every day of the week for a year and a half. A whole lot of effort, commitment and practice are needed to balance official responsibilities with expectations from the course.
In my capacity as a guest faculty I shared an overview of internal communications, drew connections to their world as managers and leaders and demonstrated how communication is central to every single program they do. We also did a creative exercise with a personal safety campaign at the workplace. The ideas they generated were great considering the limited time they got to brainstorm.
Along the way I discovered that –
- There is limited understanding of what internal communications was and did.
- Where it fit within an organization and who owned it. I was intrigued by a question – ‘isn’t HR expected to be looking after the welfare of employees?’
- When asked about the challenges they face in terms of communication at work here are some questions that emerged:
– How to know if the messages they sent were understood by their audiences?
– How to cascade information without it getting lost in translation?
– How to write effectively for different audiences?
– How to be seen as an effective manager with communications?
When asked if their managers spent time talking to them – most said it was only about the immediate work!
Never have they had conversations about values, their role and how it impacts the organization, discuss career aspirations. A very disturbing trend.
They had also pertinent questions such as:
– How can we use storytelling in our daily work?
– How do we learn to storytell?
– How can we create effective messages?
We discussed a scenario from a recent strike (bandh as it is called in India) and the kind of messages organizations sent.
I found it interesting to note that three students from the same organization understood the messages differently. Worrying to know how the rest of the organization must have received or made sense of the communication.
Here is what I learnt from the communication which went to the group:
– Report to work
– Work is priority
– In case of violence find your own transport to get to work.
Ouch! Did the organization expect employees to feel good about the workplace with this communication?
A few participants also sought career guidance; how can one make a bigger impact at work and what role must they focus on.
Earlier in the day, I had an interesting conversation with the B-school’s Dean on the limited interest he receives from students these days wanting to do an MBA. It seemed that there is a growing gap between what the industry expects and what B-schools continue to educate students on.
Food for thought?