Why is internal communications important for landing change effectively? In what way can internal communicators instil a culture of information sharing within organizations?
Gain more insights on these questions in the 21th edition of Intraskope’s Spotlight on Internal Communication Series featuring Shweta Munjal of Thomson Reuters.
Based in Mumbai (India) Shweta Munjal oversees Thomson Reuters pan-Asia external and internal strategies and initiatives. Her focus is to lead and champion the communication function and help strengthen, protect and nurture corporate reputation for APAC region. Shweta’s role comprises of advising the leadership team and senior executives on all facets of communications, including employee engagement, public relations, CSR and crisis and issues management. She also works towards shaping and driving a coherent narrative for Thomson Reuters across businesses. Shaping culture to create healthy, high performing organization is her passion and she became a certified Senn Delaney facilitator, engaging more than 500 Thomson Reuters staff in the culture-shaping program. A seasoned professional, Shweta has managed Corporate Communications and CSR for Mondelez International (formerly known as Cadbury India), Intuit, Yahoo! and NASSCOM.
In a guest blog Shweta shares perspectives on landing change and articulates the evolving role of the internal communicator in building trust through authentic engagement. Also, in an interview with Intraskope, she defines why culture is crucial for the success in managing change. Read on and share your feedback.
Leading Change Through Effective Internal Communication
Strategic messaging and thoughtful delivery aligned to business goals are the hallmarks of an effective internal communications program.
Communication is a powerful tool that can have a wide impact on the success of any organization. It is therefore not surprising that increasingly, internal communicators are being seen as strategic partners for the business to deliver on key priorities such as effective employee engagement, enhanced productivity, and accelerated business growth. How does communication drive business priorities? That is a question all communication leaders need to address.
In the journey of employee outreach, here are a few fundamental questions that determine the efficacy of internal communication programs:
- Is the internal communications program aligned with the organization’s strategy?
- Is it aimed at changing employee behavior?
- Does it lead to increase in productivity?
- Does it arm employees with the information that helps them deliver better?
- Does it highlight behaviors that are in line with the organization’s values, mission and vision?
- Does it create pride amongst employees, turning them into ambassadors, or even better, into evangelists spreading the organization’s message?
Leaders are cognizant that business problems often tend to have communication solutions. Cascading the right message down the line, and facilitating communication at all levels plays a major role in resolving business challenges. For instance, in a M&A scenario, providing constant status updates to employees, continually informing them of their role and how they can make the process more seamless and aligned are paramount. A thorough communication platform is necessary for employee outreach and integrating the workforce.
Communications can also be instrumental in driving behavioral change and building a culture of performance and merit. In an organization driven by sales, a smart communication strategy can play a huge part in motivating and inspiring colleagues to put their best foot forward. It can also help break silos within the organization to create increased synergies and encourage collaboration.
The key however lies in leveraging the right platforms to bring this to life. In our current age of information overload and reduced attention spans, effective and impactful internal communication goes much beyond weekly emailers, monthly newsletters and quarterly town halls. Communicators must innovate to create newer and more engaging platforms which allow two-way exchange of ideas and opinions. It also helps to have a strong feedback mechanism to understand what worked and what did not. It is imperative to explore the use of social media such as Facebook at Work and Whatsapp to create a sense of belonging and boost engagement.
It is also important to note that communication also extends to non-verbal, action-oriented messaging. It is the communicator’s responsibility to make employees feel that the organization and its leadership are walking the talk. If a senior leader, for instance, were to publicly applaud an employee for living the organization’s values, the communication campaign designed to change employee behavior would become authentic. Similarly, if the head of Human Resources announces a policy based on genuine employee feedback, it showcases a culture of openness where the organization listens and takes action.
Working towards such strategic business goals also ensures that the communication using internal channels are focused, devoid of layered or conflicting messaging and is better placed to generate interest in driving employee engagement. This is because employees realize that all those internal emails and intranet stories have purpose, and it is in their own interest to keep track of where the organization is headed.
After all, internal communications is only a means to an end. In its best avatar, it helps drive the organization towards a common goal – quietly, efficiently and with authenticity.
- What does internal communication mean to you?
Simple premise of internal communications is to foster conversations with a view to bring coherence to work and better coordinated actions. I’ve built tactics, tools and workshops – viz. storytelling, coaching-led sessions like power messaging, values and culture workshops, etc – around that concept.
- How is it practiced in your organization?
Communications is everyone’s job and as internal communications practitioners, we act as enablers or much like lubricants in an engine. The Edelman Trust Barometer research also shows that employees are also seen as a credible and trusted source by each other and strong internal communications channels acts as enablers to build trust and commitment, thereby leading to higher levels of employee engagement.
While wearing the hat as an IC practitioner, our job is varied and wide-ranging. In my organization, internal communications is key to the strategic direction and as IC practitioner, we play a very important role in creating sales and marketing orientation. From tactical communication to building compelling narratives to curating content to change management and maintaining organization culture, that’s a typical work week!
- What is the biggest challenge you face while going about managing internal communication?
Biggest challenge is to stitch internal communications with organization culture and health. The 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report reveals that organizational culture, engagement and employee brand proposition remains top priorities and employee experience ranks as a major trend for companies.
- What according to you is the biggest opportunity that internal communicators have?
The biggest opportunity for us is to conduct an orchestra of the sorts i.e. focus on supporting everyone in the organization in communicating towards a common purpose, content and structure. Not to demean the importance of message development and channel management but as IC practitioners we must play a vital role in facilitating authentic, constructive dialogue in a timely manner.
- How can internal communicators add more value to the business?
To rise above the turbulent times marked with climate of mistrust and volatility, internal communication practitioners play an incredibly important role by stepping up as credible and reliable sources of information. By being active, thoughtful, imaginative and trusted advisors to the leadership team, internal communicators remain diligent in cutting the noise, bringing messages to people in channels they want and create space for dialogue.
- What is your advice for people who are keen to join internal communication and make a career? What skills must they have or develop?
Foundational education and tactical abilities like writing and understanding of digital tools are important but bringing curious state of mind to understand the organization coupled with inquisitive outlook and intelligence gathering approach will determine your effectiveness as a professional.
Missed previous stories from organizations featured on the Intraskope’s Spotlight on Internal Communication Series? Look them up here – Infosys, SOBHA Ltd., ICICI Securities, First Advantage, CK Birla Group, TVS Motors, GE, Suzlon, Tata Sons, Percept, Knight Frank, TCS Europe, Vedanta, Oxfam, Danske Bank, Diageo, Pandora, Symantec, ISS Global Services and Telia.
Intraskope (www.aniisu.com) is the first blog on internal communications in India and among the earliest around the globe. Begun in 2006, the blog has over 530 posts on topics such as employee engagement, leadership communication and employee branding and receives thousands of visits from across the world. The blog, receives over 50,000 visits every month from over 50 countries globally, offers learning resources for practitioners, academicians, and students including industry workshops, research reports, and checklists. Intraskope has been featured on leading global internal communication forums like Simply-Communicate, IC Kollectif and International Association of Business Communicators. It is hosted by Aniisu K Verghese, author of Internal Communications – Insights, Practices & Models (Sage, 2012).
If you are an internal communication leader working in a firm or a not-for-profit anywhere in the world and have an internal communication case study, campaign, research insight or a guest blog post to share please contact me on [email protected]