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9 expectations of an internal communicator
Very often, there is a sense of helplessness among aspiring internal communicators on how to navigate the ever changing work environment. Somehow, it seems like they believe that someone will tell them what to do and how they must go about looking at their work. It is so important to have a point of view. The industry is not expecting people who conform, but those who can challenge the status quo and add value to systems, people and processes.
Among the top 5 skills (most lacking), identified by a recent internal communications study, are influencing, coaching leaders, strategy setting and crafting messages. I believe there are fundamentals, which every internal communicator needs to have to be effective in the role.
Clarify the need: Whenever an internal client seeks to communicate a message it is expected that the internal communicator will probe and ask the right questions to take the right decisions.
For example, questions such as the following can guide the conversation to a point where the internal communicator knows how to intervene appropriately: can you tell me more about the need? Is there a plan to communicate your message? What are the outcomes you want to achieve? What are you trying to solve? How will you know that you have succeeded?
Help stakeholders understand the process: It is expected that the internal communicator will educate stakeholders on what it takes to craft effective internal communication. Very often, there may be gaps in understanding the role or the process of internal communication.
Lead with a point of view: The internal communicator is expected to be the subject matter expert and therefore, must have a point of view on how communication needs to be done. Sometimes the individual may need to take a tough call on NOT doing a communication, especially if he or she strongly believes it will not add value to staff.
Partner with internal teams on communication management: There will be situations where by asking for inputs or a plan can help you coach the internal stakeholders on the right timing or the right placement. By intervening early, the internal communicator will be seen as a consultant and less as a doer of tasks.
Think from the end-user’s perspective: Putting your end user’s perspective in mind while creating or approving content can make a world of difference when it comes to influencing communication strategy and managing clients. You can take feedback from a sample set of employees so that you catch issues or errors before a rollout.
Take a stand: Sometimes, since we know best about what will work from an internal communication perspective it is important to explain the rationale to our internal stakeholders, so that they are aligned. Very often, such decisions can be unpopular and we need to stand by what we recommend.
Gain consensus: The internal communicator is expected to lead the way in terms of arriving at a common ground so that all stakeholders are aligned and stay on brand. Helping them see a common vision is a crucial role of the internal communicator.
Present thoughts and ideas coherently: It is expected that the internal communicator will invest time to think through how ideas can be presented in a way that is lucid and easily understood by stakeholders who may not have the entire context.
Recommend practical solutions that work: It is expected that the internal communicator will work through requirements and recommend practice solutions that make sense for staff.
Aniisu K. Verghese is the India lead for internal communications at Sapient Corp. He blogs at www.intraskope.wordpress.com
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