What makes a good internal comms manager?
Google has 55.7 million search-related answers to this specific question so there’s evidently substantial opinion on the topic.
Interestingly though, an alternative search with the slightly moderated phrase “What makes a good IC manager?” waywardly directs search engine readers into the world of integrated circuits.
These previous two sentences perhaps accurately sums up the position the internal communication industry currently find itself in.
With the benefits of employee engagement being heavily touted by the likes of the think-tank Engage for Success, the value of internal comms is becoming more widely recognised than ever before.
However a broad understanding of the discipline’s value – perhaps highlighted by the glaring lack of IC specific links on the initial Google search – appears to only stretch so far.
So what makes a great internal communications manager – and what do they need to be effective in their role?
IC educator Kevin Ruck believes understanding, courage and curiosity are the key qualities needed for successful internal comms professionals.
Kevin, founder of the PR Academy, which delivers teaching and training to industry professionals in the UK, is eager to stress that a great internal communications manager can translate rigid corporate messages into something that frontline employees can relate to.
He said: “You need to be able to translate corporate jargon into plain English.
“But I don’t believe that every internal comms ‘expert’ needs to be a highly qualified copywriter.
“Understanding what employees want to know is the key – don’t just tell them the information that you think senior managers want to tell them.
“For example, if you’re asked to send out an email briefing about change comms, you might feel it’s better to have a face-to-face discussion instead.
“Being a good IC manager means you have to be confident in your position.”
As part of his recent PhD in Internal Communication Measurement, Kevin conducted a survey of 2,066 people asking what they wanted from internal comms.
The outcome was clear; employees want to hear more about their organisation from the top level – not just their line managers.
Kevin added: “What we’ve seen in social media is that everybody has an opinion and this applies to the world of work – employees expect to be listened to.
“A good internal comms manager will move away from the cascade model of communication and encourage senior management teams to be more visible and to become more engaged with employees.”
Kevin’s top tips:
• Be curious enough to embrace technology.
• Always be thirsty to learn more.
• Have the courage to stand up and make a difference.
• Be confident in your position.
• Research: find out what employees want – and don’t stop asking.