The following is part of our most recent publication released online, "IC in 2017 & 2018 FROM HOPE TO REALITY How Far We've Come | The Road Ahead." Looking back at their greatest hope for the IC profession in 2017 in terms of where the discipline should be, 21 communication professionals from different countries answer two questions: How far have we actually come in 2017? What remains to be done in 2018?
Adrian Cropley, CEO, Cropley Communication and the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence, shares his views on the progress made these past months, to what extent he believes his hope has translated into reality, and what is needed in 2018. To read the views of all contributors, download the free 42-page eBook here.
My hope for the internal communication profession in 2017 was to continue to increase the perceived value in all organisations. Going into a new year was a perfect opportunity to take stock of what we do and what value we add strategically to the business. We need to stop doing those low value activities that take up our time and start focusing on those activities that deliver a business outcome. Let’s face it, someone else can pretty up the PowerPoints and manage the distribution lists, and HR can take back the events so internal communication professionals can focus on the strategy and facilitate a communicative environment that delivers business results.
How far we've come. Next steps.
The needle moves very slowly and 2017 has not seen huge change, but I believe that significant steps are being made each year and 2017 is no different. What have I noticed in 2017?
1. The rise of insight
Internal communication professionals are starting to see the benefits of access to greater insight. The requests for audit, research and measurement support has certainly been on the rise through the work we do within organisations. Not only is insight easier to obtain through our digital world, but the hunger for using the outcomes from research to inform the business has grown.
2. Building strategic advisor skills
Internal communication professionals have been the most active in pursuing training and development that builds their consulting skills. Requests for more training in the areas of Strategic Advisor, Act Like an Agency and Advanced Leadership Skills for Communication Professionals have moved in-house. What I have seen is a need to grow the whole team’s capacity to add value as the advisor rather than the order taker. The change is from individuals pursuing development in this area to teams, which is such a positive step in taking the team and the organisation on a journey of change.
3. Rise of IC partnering structures
Greater numbers of IC functions are making the move to an agency or partnering model within organisations. This has been happening for a while. However, coupled with the request for training in this area for the whole team, communication functions are realising their changed role in facilitating good communication rather than managing or running communication.
Although the needle moves slowly, this is due to lack of resources and in fact the resistance to the changing communication landscape on behalf of organisations. The good news is that with the greater focus on insight and embracing new skills and structures, we should see a quickening of the pace of change for IC as a valued function in organisations in the near future.
I really believe we must get tougher at defining and communicating what Internal communication does and does not do. We must use industry insight, research about the current world of communication to demonstrate that communication is everyone’s job and that internal communication is there to support the organisation to do it well.
We need to listen more, spend time understanding the business and responding with a strategic approach to the communication solution.
We need to build our change communication capacity and be seen to lead change within our organisations as a value-added role.
We need to continue focusing on insight, building our strategic advisor skills and structuring the function to be a partner within the organisation.
Most importantly we need to ask ourselves an important question with everything we do now “Is this the way I want to be perceived as adding value?”
The future for internal communication professionals continues to evolve, but is bright indeed.
Click here to download the free 42-page eBook "IC in 2017 & 2018 FROM HOPE TO REALITY How Far We've Come | The Road Ahead."
Adrian Cropley OAM, FRSA, ABC
Cropley Communication and the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence