A participant at the recently concluded internal communications workshop I ran in Bangalore, India highlighted a common concern that professionals in the industry face but rarely discuss.
She said she felt like a ‘dakiya’ – (Hindi for postman) at her workplace. This conversation became a passionate discussion among many in the room and I realized that it seemed like an issue with most of those practicing internal communication in their respective organizations.
I decided to probe the concern a bit further. Here is how our conversation went. The name of the participant is changed in the transcript below to protect her privacy.
Me: “Tell me more about why you feel like a postman?”
Janet: “It isn’t just my CEO who asks me to pen his e-mails; even my supervisor gets me to craft and publish communication on her behalf.” (The frustration in her voice reflected how much she wanted out of that scenario.)
Me: “Were expectations set about your role? Are you aware what internal communicators are expected to do?”
Janet: “As an internal communicator I was told to focus on churning out mailers but what I can’t understand is why can’t leaders write their own communication? After a while my his e-mails begin reading like mine and there isn’t a way to differentiate!. I have limited understanding of internal communications since my background is in advertising.”
Me: “Have you had a conversation on what an internal communicator is expected to do and how your role can be improved?”
Janet: “I wouldn’t dare to have that conversation with my boss or my leader. They aren’t open to it and will go out and hire someone else.”
At this point the group began sympathizing with Janet and spoke of their woes in clarifying roles. Also, how internal communicators bear the cross all the time without any recognition.
Here are the questions:
What you think is the issue in this case?
How can internal communicators stop being ‘postmen’ or ‘delivery people’ and play a strategic role?
As a consultant or a person looking at this concern from the outside how can you help Janet get ahead of the expectations that her boss and leaders have?
Interested in your views. Post it now.