In many forums, internal communications strategy, planning and measurement are given a great deal of attention. What often gets ignored is the power of program management to steer internal communications projects over the line. When the rubber meets the road what matters is how well the internal communicator navigates the course, aligns stakeholders, keeps audiences abreast and shepherds leaders and employees through change. No program management application can take away the importance of an internal communicator on the ball, driving consensus, anticipating obstacles, having a plan B and guiding teams amidst confusion.
I am sharing a few perspectives that can probably help internal communicators get better with holding fort and envisioning a share future on projects they champion.
Getting everyone on the same page: I believe gaining acceptance for a program and aligning differing perspectives are important skills to have. More so, when there is a lot at stake for the organization and the internal communications team – heavy investment of time and effort, funds for driving the program among others. Understanding multiple perspectives, going to the source of the concerns and surfacing issues that cause friction are ways to join the dots and ‘herding the cats’.
Making meetings work: In my experience documenting discussions succinctly and allotting the right responsibilities to the appropriate stakeholders are tips to get the most from meetings. I learnt it the hard way early in my career. As an account executive in an advertising agency and working on a global food brand it was essential to ascertain the salient points of every meeting, capture them as actionable next steps and get sign-offs before proceeding. Working with hard copy artworks and fax machines made the task even tougher and changes more complex to turnaround! Separating the wheat from the chaff in meetings and knowing the difference between a comment and a workable idea are essential skills to move the needle on projects.
Holding people accountable: The ability to identify the doers from the ‘idea generators’ and giving onus to stakeholders to champion their pieces help to make programs succeed. It is often frustrating to find many who speak of strategy but aren’t willing to play a role in making campaigns land right. Unless people are held accountable for their roles there is little chance that they will take interest in playing their respective part in projects. This is where the internal communicator needs to step in.
Demonstrating tangible impact: Set clear expectations on how you believe the journey will feel like and have an honest conversation on the outcomes. Acknowledge that campaigns will see crests and troughs but ensure you highlight stakeholders who are the bright spots and have done great work. Hopefully, it will inspire others to also do their bit for the project’s success.
What do you think? Is program management essential for your internal communication work?