Internal Communication Drives Business Results
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?
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll share the views of one contributor every day on the progress made these past months, to what extent their hope has translated into reality, and what remains to be done in 2018.
Today, we're pleased to be launching the blog post series with Claire Watson, MC, ABC, Vice President, Strategic Communication Management, Cropley Communication.
To read the views of all contributors, download the free 42-page eBook here.
My biggest hope for internal communication during 2017 is that the executive team embraces internal communication as a key business driver that has a halo effect on all business operations. In doing so, internal communication is elevated to the decision-making table, consulted in advance of key business decisions so that communication professionals can harness the power of communication to help drive business results. My hope for internal communication professionals is that they manage communication strategically, demonstrating its value in ways that forever change the way that business operates.
How far we've come. Next steps.
This noble aspiration set a goal almost impossible to reach in one short year. Sadly, in most organizations recognition of the value of internal communication is progressing at a snail’s pace.
Undervalued equals under-resourced. Executives have yet to connect the dots between well-managed internal communication and business results. To be blunt, communication professionals are partly to blame. Many practitioners continue to focus on tactical delivery, skipping the most critical components of strategy.
Not to be confused with a tactical plan, good internal communication strategy is rare. When strategy isn’t aligned with business needs and supported by audience analysis, measurable objectives, a strategic approach, clear, concise, relevant, timely messages and a measurement plan, there is no dependable outcome. Data drives decision-making and resources. As long as internal communication is seen as a cost centre, organizations are doomed to hobble along like they have always done.
It’s a double bind. Without experienced communication professionals and a healthy budget, there’s rarely an opportunity to do the serious planning and measurement works that needs to done. Moving internal communication from the popular 1960’s top down, command and control, unreliable cascading of information position to be a facilitator of conversations that drive results is next to impossible. However, without this shift, a commitment to planning, research, measurement and reporting against business outcomes, it’s next to impossible to command more resources. This doesn’t even account for the fact that the landscape has drastically changed and it behooves senior executives and communication professionals to embrace that change.
It’s time to stop preaching to the converted. Most senior communication professionals are acutely aware that when properly managed, internal communication drives business results. Most are very clear that the rules of the game have evolved, changed and continue to change.
There are knowledge gaps between senior professionals and mid-to-entry level professionals. Equally there are knowledge gaps between senior communication professionals and business executives. One of my favourite quotes by Courtney Stevens is “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
This “chicken and egg” syndrome calls for a three-pronged approach:
Starting at the university level and spreading through every single IC training program and accreditation process, it is incumbent on us to teach and mentor up-and-coming communication professionals how to manage internal communication and take their place as leaders and trailblazers in their organizations or businesses. While we’re at it, let’s teach them how to advocate for the value of the profession in ways that cannot be ignored.
Let’s not be complacent in our own organizations or in our work with clients. Entry to senior level communication professionals at least know the basics. Many senior executives do not. What a great opportunity to educate, advocate and demonstrate the value of internal communication at every turn. Senior communication professionals have a key role to play in bringing change. The gauntlet has been thrown. Will you take up the quest?
Keep talking. Keep writing. Keep teaching and mentoring. Keep walking the talk and delivering results. Keep advocating for the value of strategic communication. Although there is no magic wand, there is a critical mass. That critical mass is us working together toward the same vision, delivering the same messages time after time until we succeed. Walt Disney once said, “The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.”
Let’s change the game.