Want to know the problem with internal communications? It’s boring. This is the problem. It is boring because communicators make it boring, and because top management only pay lip service to it at worse, or at best do not commit the right resources in terms of people and budget to make internal communications truly effective.
As a result, internal communications is like those boring Ronseal advertisements you may have seen: does exactly what it says on the tin.
Now, I’ve got your attention, here’s the good news! This need not be the case. Indeed, there are many companies working very hard at tackling internal communications, but they are a minority and there is till much potential left untapped. The potential for internal communications is exciting. If companies are going to change, live their values, fulfill their brand promise and all those expectations launched by the leadership and raised by external communications and branding, then they have to get their employees engaged. Shouting louder is not what is effective, nor is spin.
Internal communications is about engaging the imagination of employees and showing them where they fit within the corporate story. The art is to make the company story their story, and vice-versa.
If this message is not understood by leadership, and their communicators, then their organization will not be making the most of what used to be called human capital. They are not releasing the energy and good will the vast majority of employees have. After all, they spend so much of their life at work, why wouldn’t they want to be engaged? Yes, there are many for whom a job is just a job, and the money is just the money, but they are also imaginative human beings seeking fulfillment in their life. Work is part of understanding fulfillment.
If internal communications going to change, then leadership and communicators together must realize the following:
1. It is first and foremost about people, not sales figures, profits or, God forbid, the CEO’s vision.
The key is to put your focus on your people.
2. It is about imagination, something we all have to varying degrees, and which is what inspires us to action. We want to imagine what is possible for us, what lies ahead in our personal journey, and we like to tell stories about ourselves, others and our work.
The key is to harness that imagination.
3. It is about why people are inspired and productive. It is not about, excuse the non-corporate sounding language, crappy campaigns or selling your employees the latest wheeze. It is about involving and recognizing. It is about really motivating stuff. Like what? Like a job well done.
The key is to inspire and recognize your employees.
So, in fact, internal communications is not boring, or at least it doesn’t need to be. Employees are fascinating. They have many stories to tell that reflect the company values. The values your company spouts about already exist in people. The point is to inspire your people. The art is to foreground this.
Internal communications has a key role to play that connects the company to changing cultural norms and values. All companies face this, but do all companies recognize what this means? Yes, internal communications does what it says on the tin, but the work is much more challenging than any boring advertisement can capture. And if the leadership understand what internal communications means, then perhaps they will put more attention on it, more budget into it and staff it at a more senior level. This is the challenge internal communications faces, and this post has stated this and done exactly what it says on the tin.
I am thankful to Ronseal for their wonderful advertisements that inspired this blog, and you can see one of the many Ronseal videos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXznmGz2fy4