Fin Dowie – Royal London
In the latest in our series of IC Leader Q&As we speak to Royal London Head of Group Internal Communications Fin Dowie.
We worked with Fin and Royal London back in 2014-15, delivering a strategic review of internal communications , so it was great to catch up with Fin and how things have progressed in the two years since…
How long have you been in the role at Royal London and what was your career development into the role?
I’ve been Head of Group Internal Communications at Royal London since May 2015, although I was interim in role for a while before that. I joined Royal London in September 2013, initially as a Communications Business Partner supporting several frontline businesses including our new direct-to-consumer business and group operations teams.
Before that I had been at The Royal Bank of Scotland for many years, with communications roles across their central, retail and global banking & markets businesses including Head of Shared Services Communications and various Communications Business Partner roles. I originally started my career in Marketing and then moved into Internal Communications full time as I found it a really stimulating and challenging environment!
What channels do you deliver including face to face?
With around 4,000 people, face to face (F2F) is a key channel for us in Royal London and we see our Leaders as vital in supporting F2F activities. We have a suite of online leadership comms channels plus we run dedicated events three times a year for this population. These events not only share key messages on Group strategy and performance, but also prepare our Leaders for delivering these messages to our people through a cascade process. So as well as communications delivery, we have a strong focus on building an organisational capability in communications & engagement. We have a great relationship with our colleagues in the HR Organisational Development team and partner with them on this initiative.
Our wider channel mix includes an intranet for news and updates, supported by digital newsletters and a regular cascade process. A focus for next year is looking at the use of social media tools internally, we’re just starting to investigate the opportunities (and the pitfalls!).
As Head of Internal Communications for a major player in the UK FS sector, what do you prioritise in your role?
Employee Voice is key for me. Together with our Group People Director and Head of Culture & Employee Engagement, we’re building a listening capability here in Royal London and are using that to drive content and channels. It’s not just about running an employee opinion survey once or twice a year, it’s about building a capability to ask for feedback throughout the year. To be ‘always on’.
I think it’s important not just to listen, but to really take on board what our people are saying, to understand the themes emerging and then take action to resolve issues raised. We’ve started that journey this year, by sharing a set of actions to be taken as a result of feedback gathered during the previous 12 months. We call them our People Commitments and we announced them at a set of Group-wide employee roadshows at the start of the year. We have a follow up communications campaign to update our people on how we’re doing in delivering against these Commitments and we share their stories and experiences of how it’s made a difference to their working lives. It’s a work in progress but will again be a priority for us going into 2018.
Royal London has won plaudits on GlassDoor for being a great place to work and also for Phil Loney as CEO. What role do you think your internal communications have played in these accolades from your people?
Well I think most of this is down to Phil and his colleagues on our Group Executive Committee who have created an environment which allows our employees to develop ideas which work for them.
Many of the Glassdoor reviews cited a positive communications culture when talking about working at Royal London, so we take a lot of pride in those comments although we are realistic enough to take them with a ‘pinch of salt’. Ultimately though, the success of our business is not down to any one individual, but to everyone who works for Royal London. The real credit belongs to them and we’re really proud to support them.
What are the main challenges for your team this year?
Other than keeping pace with a fast changing world?! I think it’s about managing volumes. We need to be really clear on our priorities and goals and ensure we focus on those. It’s very easy to take on board lots of new initiatives and priorities during the year, and then you end up with a never ending to-do list. If we are clear on the areas where we’ll add most value, and stick to those, then we’ll be doing well. We want to help Royal London deliver the best outcomes and experiences not just for our customers, but for our people!