Presenting the 50th edition of Intraskope’s Spotlight on Internal Communication Series featuring Anindita Mookerjee Sinha of L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad Limited (MRHL). Anindita, has over three decades of professional experience with Public Sector Undertaking (Airports Authority of India) and Global Conglomerates (GVK Group, GMR Group; currently with L&T Group) and excels in integrated communication, reputation management and strategy formulation. She always believes in working as a team player, then a team leader, and believes in investing in her team’s all-round development.
With a proven track record as an effective crisis communicator, spokesperson and writer, she also served as the Co-Chair for ASSOCHAM’S National EODB Council. She currently serves as the Chairperson for CII Telangana’s Culture & Tourism Council, CII-IWN Core Council member, is the Co-Chair for FTCCI’s Infra, Smart City & Real Estate Council and Chairperson for Public Relation Council of India’s Hyderabad Chapter. Anindita is the Advisor to the board of studies/international & industry advisory committee/centers of excellence for Mody University, an only women University in Jaipur and is the Member of Society for Cyber Security Council, Hyderabad.
Winner of several regional and local leadership awards, Anindita is a speaker at over 60 various forums, with experience in Business Excellence and CSR. She is the Presiding Officer of the Internal Committee (IC) in her organization, for Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH). Anindita, a movie buff and wanderlust, finds ultimate peace, happiness, and leisure spending time with her family, cooking, dancing, reading, by contributing to animal rescue & welfare, and other social causes. For her, ‘Empower’ means ‘I have the Power within’, and believes education, safety, financial security, and virtuousness can instill empowerment in an individual!
In this interview, Anindita discusses the strategic importance of internal communications and the power of empowering employees to have a say. She advocates embedding communication in the DNA of the organization to be successful.
Watch the complete video interview on YouTube or read the transcript below.
1. What does internal communication mean to you?
Internal communications is an integral part of any business, as it involves its most powerful assets – employees. For any organization, employees can be the best brand ambassadors, positively impacting the company’s reputation. Through structured internal communications plan, an organization can develop a healthy culture within, for better prospect. Information is knowledge, and transparency of information brings in confidence in people. Hence, internal communications is important in disseminating knowledge to employees, on announcements, change in policies, employee engagement activities, overall health of the business etc. With the help of internal communications, a culture of solidarity and cohesiveness can be built in an organization. Collaboratively, employees can work in line with the vision, mission and goals set by the management for desired results.
2. How is it practiced in your organization?
L&T is known for its best practices when it comes to employees and their engagement. Similarly, at L&TMRHL, internal communication is given utmost importance, in terms of regular communication – some examples include events, announcement, newsletter, intranet, information on birthdays and other celebrations, personal wishes, townhalls, long service awards, retirement felicitations, engaging employees qualitatively, physically, and specially now more virtually and focusing strongly on L&D. Not only about our company but about Group activities and initiatives as well. I can with conviction, state that internal communications is a huge motivation booster for employees. For any operations related sector or business, where operations people need to put in their best efforts, where there is a demand for zero error, one has to be super alert while on duty, a conducive, happy and charged up environment is highly recommended. Most importantly, senior management people are accessible to all employees. This gives a sense of belonging between staff and officers with management.
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
Two examples come to my mind – one on POSH and the other on Women’s Safety in collaboration of police, Aikya. These were designed keeping employees in mind and were extremely well received.
4. What is the biggest challenge you face while going about managing internal communication?
We are an employee friendly organization, hence fortunately do not face any challenge as such. However, since we work with partners who collectively help in running Hyderabad’s Metro Rail operations, it is a mammoth task to reach every corner where any internal stakeholders are engaged with us. Mobile workforce should be connected appropriately. If possible, take help of new technology and tools. In general, one of the challenges is to get employee participation in activities or contribute to newsletters, intranet etc. One should not be too stringent in rules and regulations in the name of quality. Let the exercise be more democratic. Involvement is important to bridge gaps or connects. Create an atmosphere where they feel free to shar ideas, without inhibitions. Make it employee focused. Int Comm officer should bring in value add to the activities; hence the entire exercise goes futile. The communication should be strong and convincing. Leadership plays a crucial role in internal communications. Messages should be top to bottom, as well as lateral. They should set examples for teams. Also, effectiveness of Int Comm should be measured clinically to yield the desired result. Feedback mechanism is very important. Mostly it is one-way comm, but it should be both ways….
5. What according to you is the biggest opportunity that internal communicators have?
That they can connect with the human assets of an organization, which forms a family. Reaching out to the grassroot levels and understanding them can make one evolve as an individual in the long run. Also, one can gain the trust of people in healthy organizations like us. One should feel proud that they are able to build a culture, develop talents, keep them qualitatively engaged, hone their skills, imparting knowledge, making an atmosphere healthy, encouraging togetherness and family culture, and ultimately grooming people into better professionals and better individuals.
6. How can internal communicators add more value to the business?
Employees are the most potential assets and best brand ambassadors for any organization. A company grows into an organization or institution with the help of employees. They are the foundation to any business. And Internal Communicators can play the role of a catalyst an active agent to groom and shape the business creating a strategic communication bond with the employees. Int Comm people are the artists, their communication methodology is the paints, the palette is the facilitation teams, and ultimately the canvas if the organization. The Int Comm pros know the art of using the right shades and presenting a perfect and beautiful picture conveying a string message to its customers- the employees. The productivity and service of a business increase multi-fold, is has been observed and proven, if it has happy employees. When employees wish to stay and grow up with a particular organization, it is because of its culture, strong foundation, and healthy environment. It builds healthy relationships, who develops a sense of ownership for the business, and can manage conflicts and mediates disputes, for the company.
7. What skills must internal communicators have or develop?
First and foremost, it is important to have a humane angle and democratic mindset. Knowing the right pitch to connect. Be a people’s person, invest in self-development, develop an interest in people, keep an open mind, build a flair for writing (business and features) and have a sound knowledge of HR functioning (if purely a comm pro). They also need to be mindful of costs, focus on operational areas more, balance business and employee interests, be open to ideas, manage their own egos among others.
8. What is your advice for people who are keen to join internal communication and make a career?
Learn to wear the employee hat, however master the art of striking a balance between management requirements also. If you are a part of the marketing or corporate communication department, work hand in hand in with HR to be on the same page. One must learn and love teamwork and manage work teams deftly and take all departments along the stride while planning communication, without any type of bias. It makes one evolve as a human being and professional both. Scope for experimenting is there, opportunity for creativity and exploring new tools remains. It depends how active, agile, innovative and enthusiast, the internal communications person is.
9. What is your advice for women who want to make a mark in this domain and what must they do differently?
As a professional, gender bias should not be considered, nevertheless I think the qualities and traits required for Int Comm pros, are fortunately inherent and ingrained in women! It is is my personal belief, they are ‘more’ humane in nature, and connect from the heart. However, they must keep their practical insights live too. EQ plays an important role in today’s date for any functioning, but the IQ factor should also be taken into account. They should encash their potential, instinct, creativity, however not taking advantage of gender for sure.
10. 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.
Regularly keeping in touch, regular varied mailers, medical facilities and welfare, virtual closeness, group wise as well as local level webinars on various subjects other than work related ones, encouraging them to spend quality time at home and publishing stories received from them.
11. Can you share one trend that you spot with internal communications?
Both way and personalized communication, features, blogs and story-telling methods; because of virtual closeness…immediate feedback/reaction which helps in better understanding of employees. Compassion and recognition, collective effervescence for organizational alignment, exploring and investing on various digital platforms, data driven functioning and communication, realizing the worth of human resource and reaching out to them constructively, a synergy between Comm & HR.
12. If there is one aspect of internal communications you would like to change, what would that be?
That companies and internal communications leaders both take the vertical seriously as it can be a game changer for any organization – one day! Unfortunately, especially in India it is just a facilitating dept or a cost center. The intangible ‘revenue’ as benefits it can bring into the company is unmeasurable and can turn the table positively by motivating employees to believe how important they are to a business and are the greatest contributors to it. Makes anyone feel proud.
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Look up the previous stories from organizations featured on the Intraskope’s Spotlight on Internal Communication Series here – Northern Trust, AXA Business Services, Subex, global insurer, Standard Chartered Bank, BASF, Applied Materials India, Microsoft UK, Times Group, Samsung, Falabella, Cisco, 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, Philips, Refinitiv, Mastercard, VFS Global, Ittiam Systems, Bridgestone India, Indian automotive company and Uber.
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