IC AROUND THE WORLD
Views on internal communication from
Internal Communications Manager for Deloitte
IC Around The World is a series of interviews with communication professionals from around the globe working in the field of internal communication.
They share their views on the practice of internal communication in their countries, and tell us who and what they are paying attention to in the world of IC.
How has internal communication developed in your country in recent years?
Here in Ireland, the need for robust IC management has developed rapidly in recent years. Now that we are out of recession, companies are competing for the best talent in a market which offers a lot of choice to employees. With many high-profile multinational firms based in Ireland, the expectations of employees are high – particularly those in the millennial demographic. Global geopolitical turmoil, including Brexit, is threatening confidence among many business leaders in Ireland. However I believe that this presents a fantastic opportunity for internal communicators to demonstrate their value in helping leaders to provide context for their teams – thereby driving loyalty and engagement and ultimately, organisational success.
What do you currently see as the greatest challenges for internal communication in your world?
The greatest challenge continues to be the need for robust planning of internal communications. The 2017 Gatehouse State of the Sector Survey reported that only 1 in 2 respondents have a written internal comms plan and only 1 in 3 has a written long-term strategy covering a period longer than a year. That’s worrying. A reactive rather than proactive approach is bound to favour tactical solutions over strategy.
As an IC practitioner, it is far too easy to get wrapped up in the delivery of immediate messages and the management of a complex suite of channels. So if you don’t currently have one, or if it’s out of date, put your plan down on paper today! But here’s the rub: you have to make it liveable and not something that hides in a drawer. Write the long version if you must, but try really hard to distill it down to a one or two pages living document to stick on the wall so you can see it every single day.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities for internal communication to make a difference in the next year or two?
The single most important role of IC is and ever has been to drive pride in and engagement with the organisation’s purpose. Internal communications is the part of the business which is uniquely placed to help people understand the context of their work and in so doing to create and maintain trust.
At Deloitte, our purpose is to make an impact that matters. How is IC helping to bring this to life? We thread messages and stories about impact through our internal communications activity, sharing meaningful proof points about our impact for clients, people and for society.
It’s so important to ensure that when employees hear messages from senior leaders and from their line manager that there is a common theme which helps them to make sense of their individual contributions. Whether it’s an email or a blog post or a face-to-face interaction, the trick is to make it authentic and make sure the information is shared with employees in a timely and engaging way. Indeed, giving people the chance to provide feedback and to have that feedback listened to, is one of the greatest opportunities of all and one which should be at the top of the agenda for all IC practitioners.
What internal communication resources (websites, conferences, associations) do you make the most use of, other than IC Kollectif?
Who are the international internal comms experts and personalities you pay attention to the most?
In Ireland, Laoise O’Murchu (Twitter: @laoiseomurchu) is an informed and experienced IC expert whose insights are always interesting and engaging. Rachel Miller is great, her content is always fresh and worth reading. Last but not least, Roger D’Aprix’s* contribution to the world of IC is nothing short of inspirational.
Have you came across a piece of data - a study/report/research/case study/article - that proves your bosses/clients the value of IC investment generally, or to support a particular tactic or initiative?
For me, it would be data which helps to reinforce the benefit of linking communications to a wider purpose in order to build trust between employees and the organisation. Too often, communicators get roped into an SOS approach, that is ‘sending out stuff’, with little benefit or context for the employee base. With a busy workforce, some of whom may not be based in the office, it can be detrimental to bombard them with a proliferation of messages. For employees to engage with the outputs of internal communications they need to feel that the messages are relevant and delivered at the right time and through the most appropriate channels. It’s also crucial that people feel their feedback is being noted, leading to improved communications outcomes across the organisation.
The opinions set out in this interview are my own views and not those of my employer.
* Editor's note - Roger D'Aprix is a contributor to Disrupting the Function of IC - A Global Perspective, where he writes about Delivering meaning in a turbulent workplace (pp. 20-24).
Internal communication: A reactive rather than proactive approach is bound to favour tactical solutions over strategy.
Feedback should be at the top of the agenda for all IC practitioners.
As an IC practitioner, it is far too easy to get wrapped up in the delivery of immediate messages and the management of a complex suite of channels. So if you don’t currently have one, or if it’s out of date, put your plan down on paper today! But here’s the rub: you have to make it liveable and not something that hides in a drawer. Write the long version if you must, but try really hard to distil it down to a one or two pages living document to stick on the wall so you can see it every single day.
ABOUT Emily Maher
Emily Maher is the Internal Communications Manager for Deloitte in Ireland. In this role, she is responsible for developing and managing an effective internal marketing and communications function to engage employees through effective communication of the organisation’s strategy, vision, capabilities and success.
Previously, she worked for KBC Bank Ireland with responsibility for Internal Communications, CSR and Sustainability. She was also PR and Internal Communications Manager for An Garda Síochána (the Irish national police force), as well as holding senior roles in a number of Dublin PR and communications agencies. She has been a guest lecturer on the Public Relations Institute of Ireland’s Certificate in Internal Communications course since 2015.