What skills does an internal communication professional need in the 2015 workplace?
It is a question regularly mulled over at Headlines Towers as the internal comms industry matures.
This evolution – driven by the combination of advancing technology and the blurring of lines between professional disciplines such as IC, HR, marketing and PR – means the skillset in the 2015 workplace differs greatly even from five years ago.
Throw into the mix the business world waking up to the financial benefits of employee engagement and the stakes are raised even higher.
Internal comms manager at Headlines Jane Revell said: “The role of internal communications professionals is ever evolving but ultimately the focus needs to remain on empowering employees, promoting personal responsibility and encouraging conversations across all levels of the organisation.
“Internal communications is a specialism that involves a wide range of interpersonal and strategic management skills.”
So what fresh attributes do internal communicators need to hone in these times of change?
1. Journalistic skills.
These days everyone is a journalist. Having an English degree or 100-words-a-minute shorthand is no longer a pre-requisite for creating content. Solid writing and the ability to see the vital opportunities for different types of media – like video or podcasts – have become critical in today’s multi-channel world.
Low quality content can negatively impact on engagement so selecting the right media in the correct channel really does matter.
2. Happy to lose control.
This doesn’t mean partying around the photocopier – sadly. Days of producing top-down corporate comms is over. Audiences expect to be more involved in communication whether they’re creating content, commenting on social or sharing examples of best practice. Two-way dialogue provides a foundation for genuine employee engagement – but it requires trust on both sides.
3. Listen… and respond.
This old chesnut, you sigh. With so many channels available to IC professionals, interpreting the demands of colleagues is priceless. Understanding this and translating it into an IC mix is the challenge – along with facilitating colleague conversations to ensure direction and best value. A gentle guiding hand on the rudder of collaboration, you may say.
4. The measure of success.
Measurement remains a massive challenge. Research by the PR Academy highlighted it as one of the biggest skill gaps in comms teams. As Jane wrote in this recent blog, there isn’t “a one size fits all” approach to evaluating the value of internal communications – and there are a wide variety of ways to measure employee engagement.
But taking a real-time, conversational approach to measurement on a frequent basis could establish more honest, timely and valuable information.
IC’s evolution makes this essential. With the arrival of Millennials in the workplace, the challenge to produce engaging communication continues. Digital changed the rulebook – forcing internal communicators think with greater diversity than previously required. With the arrival of wearable tech and the growing presence of BYOD policies, our mindsets must be ready – and willing – to embrace the inevitable further changes coming our way.