Our Top 3 Current Themes for Internal Comms – Updated
Every six months or so we reflect on the internal communications reviews we’ve completed and the trends we’re seeing from our work with organisations across different sectors. Take a read through our current Top 3, with our usual challenge to internal communications teams.
Connecting with leaders authentically
We wrote about the importance of leadership visibility at the start of the year; employees still want to connect with a company’s leadership regularly and we don’t expect that to change. But focus is increasingly turning from the frequency of interaction to the formality of the interaction. Anyone who tuned into the recent Labour leadership election and the ensuing press coverage – regardless of political persuasion – will have witnessed a fascinating case in point.
We believe that stage-managed events and scripted speeches have their place. But don’t underestimate the value in hearing the MD or CEO speaking authentically, plainly and from the heart. Melcrum gives a brilliant example of an ‘Unplugged’ formula on its home page – having a solid communications strategy and business plan in place, and a leader who is confident in the vision, are important pre-requisites.
There are numerous formats to consider, ranging from impromptu ‘town hall’ meetings in open plan offices, to unscripted and informal roadshows. So next time you’re planning events or leadership activity, why not ditch the script, take a risk and try something new?
Recognising the importance of line managers
The role of line managers in building employee engagement is increasingly recognised within the industry. On the one hand, they are a lens through which employees make sense of a company’s strategy, and on the other, along with IC teams, they play an important role in facilitating two-way feedback.
Research shows that employees are far more likely to trust information from their line manager than from someone higher up in the organisation. Their attitude has the ability to inspire or demotivate, empower or silence. This makes them potentially powerful assets and agents of change. Equally, they need equipping with the right tools and messages to feel valued and confident in their role as communicators.
So when you are thinking about your audience segmentation, ensure you are building effective line manager engagement into your strategy. Consider in particular the frequency with which line managers are able to interact with the leadership, the process for cascading key messages down the line and their degree of involvement in organisational change.
Challenge to IC teams: Are line managers factored into your strategy and do you have appropriate channels in place to engage and support them?
Employees want a voice… and proof they are being heard
Employees are very clear that they want to do more than just ask questions. They want to give feedback, challenge strategy, put forward ideas and share their experience of dealing with customers on the front-line. Put simply, they want their voice to be heard.
Internal channels – including face to face – which just air and promote the management view are a big turnoff for employees. They expect their voice to be clearly visible, and further, they want to see things changing as a result of their feedback.
The challenge for internal communicators is firstly to ensure effective feedback loops are in place, and secondly, to gain the ear – and commitment – of the leadership team in listening and responding. Airing employee opinions on key issues (including ones that challenge the management view) will win respect and drive engagement when done consistently as part of an effective communications strategy.
Challenge to IC teams: are you doing enough to promote employee voice in your channels?