Presenting the 36th edition of Intraskope’s Spotlight on Internal Communication Series featuring Paul Downey of Microsoft UK. Paul has over 15 years’ experience in both private and public sectors, across global markets, specializing in internal and change communications, employee and brand engagement, organizational design and content and event curation. He believes in taking a strategic, pragmatic approach to meet change communications and employee engagement needs. Paul is passionate about the impact and value effective internal communications and people strategies can have on an organization – on its people, culture, productivity, behaviors, customer service, reputation and success.
Read the complete interview below.
1. What does internal communication mean to you?
It means offering employees innovative ways to consume their media, while supporting them to be the best they can be and do their jobs as effectively as possible, without adding to the daily ‘noise’ they have to cut through in order to get things done. As a result, internal communications can unlock advocacy amongst employees.
2. How is it practiced in your organization?
I’ve only been in role just a few weeks, but as you can imagine we have a great suite of collaboration tools in 365. Teams plays a big role in how employees collaborate and communicate, Sharepoint means content can be user-generated and shared, and Yammer offers social networking and community connection.
3. Please share an example/campaign that you are personally proud of working on and that made a significant impact to an organization in the recent past
As Head of Internal Communications and Engagement at MoneySupermarket Group my team and I were responsible for embedding a new cultural transformational program. The comms campaign contributed to increases in engagement scores and eNPS, as well as employee index scores around understanding of the business strategy. It really signaled to employees that a more inclusive and innovative culture was the outcome, and using senior leaders as advocates set that tone. It really demonstrated the value and impact internal communications can have on business outcomes as well as comms outcomes.
4. What is the biggest challenge you face while going about managing internal communication?
Employee’s time. Everyone is busy. I feel passionate that how we consume our media in our private lives shouldn’t be any different to how we consume it in our work lives. Internal communications should be simple to understand, immediate, fast, and fun.
5. What according to you is the biggest opportunity that internal communicators have?
With COVID-19 there’s a bigger opportunity for internal communication to be at the table, involved in strategic decisions from the beginning, shaping and influencing business outcomes and the role comms can play in contributing to achieving them. Longer term, advances in digital and tech mean that we can be even more innovative with apps, platforms and tools to engage workforces.
6. How can internal communicators add more value to the business?
Internal communicators can add more value by: supporting leaders and managers to be as effective and confident in communicating; thinking more out of the box when it comes to channels and methods of communicating; by being more aligned to business and cultural ambitions; and bringing to life your customers and their narrative in a way that employees are able to amplifying these in meaningful ways.
7. What skills must they have or develop?
I believe digital; content production, negotiation, employer brand, cultural and business change are key skills to have.
8. What is your advice for people who are keen to join internal communication and make a career?
Always put yourself in the shoes of the employee – how will your communications land with them, how does it make them feel, what does it make them want to do, do they understand it, engage with it? If you positively answer these questions, then you understand how employee comms should work.
9. With COVID-19 and other crises, how must internal communications engage? What has changed or will change? Examples of how your organization has helped reassure employees and navigate the crisis as it unfolds.
Being on the front foot, planning for various scenarios, keeping a constant, reassuring drip feed of information so employees feel supported and know where and what support is available; being more virtual – at our first virtual all-staff town hall with our CEO we reassured but also to celebrated successes achieved in this difficult time – it’s important to do this. Provide what employees need to effectively do their jobs remotely – chairs, kits, time, understanding if they are also homeschooling, having caring responsibilities, wellbeing support – being inclusive in your approach is vital.
10. Can you share one trend that you spot with internal communications?
Moving away from traditional pure internal communications and straddling change, culture, social communications is a trend I spot.
11. If there is one aspect of internal communications you would like to change, what would that be?
I’d like to see it viewed equally to external communications. It’s getting there as more and more businesses realize their internal reputation is just as important as their external one, in indeed has an impact on their external one.
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Keen to contribute and participate in the ongoing series on Intraskope where we put the spotlight on thought leadership, great ideas, and practical solutions? Look up the previous stories from organizations featured on the Intraskope’s Spotlight on Internal Communication Series here – Cisco, Times Group, Samsung, Falabella, Brillio, UAE Exchange, Apeland, M.H. Alshaya Co, Proctor & Gamble, 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, Telia, Thomson Reuters, IBM, General Motors, Intelligence India Software Solutions and Philips.
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