In the case study I shared recently – “Where Do I Start With Internal Communications”Yeshwant’s position as a communication professional is unenviable. To begin on a note where stakeholders are reengineering his role can put severe strain on his morale and on the outcomes of internal communications.
If the expectations were set that Yeshwant’s engagement would be strategic in nature, it is probably best to go back to the job description and revisit how stakeholders understand strategy in the first place. The excuse of local culture and context needing an internal communicator to do ‘everything’ is misplaced. It doesn’t matter which part of the globe internal communication is practiced, there are standards and practices which are common. Quite like how any other function or business team operates.
Yeshwant needs to establish his credentials as a communicator. It doesn’t matter what experience he has had in the past. In a new workplace, you are starting afresh. Before, he can expect stakeholders to trust his abilities, he needs to demonstrate proof that he has the chops for the role. Often, just perceived as supporting the CEO can also distance people from the communicator. That isn’t a good position to be in.
Rather than feel ‘kicked about’ he can immerse himself in the company’s communication culture and learn the ropes. Since it is a multinational company there must be established guidelines on communication. He can ask for best practices. If there isn’t, that’s again an opportunity to leave a legacy of great standards the company can use.
As an individual contributor, Yeshwant needs to take stock of the needs of stakeholders and how it can be streamlined. Is there too much internal communications or too little? Often, there may not even be a need to communicate!
Either way, getting a sense of what is right for employees can help stakeholders appreciate the role of internal communications better. He can run focus groups, gather data on the type and range of internal communications taking place. Also, if employees are reading and making sense of communication. Do they have a way to feedback to managers and leaders? If not, Yeshwant can develop practices which can be standard operating protocol for all internal communication.
Armed with these insights, he needs to have a sit-down with his CEO and set expectations and boundaries on what is viable and how much needs to just go unless there is a process and rhythm to communication. Showing the leader how internal communication adds value, improves connection to the company’s goals and improves business performance can strengthen his case. He can create a business case for either having business teams sparing people to pitch as part-timers in internal communications or for hiring a full-time person on his team.
After establishing ways of working with the CEO, he can take it to the business teams by explaining how internal communication works and what it takes to get effective communication out.
Teaching internal teams to manage their own communication is the next best approach Yeshwant can do. He can either create templates, run trainings and move up the value chain of internal communication or establish centres of excellence on communication by identifying champions within the company.
When the internal communicator creates a culture of communication within empowering employees to do the right thing for the business as effective communicators, the organization is heading in the right direction.
What do you think?