Tag Archives: ic tips

Guest blog: how to be a real IC pro

Sean Williams, owner of Communication AMMO and managing consultant for True Digital Communications, blogs about why measurement is the key to better IC for your business.

We shouldn’t need to say it. As internal communicators, we’re one of the few in an organisation who can take the pulse of the firm. Even in our editorial roles, we talk to people all the time.

We (hopefully) know the business, its goals, challenges, strengths. We understand leadership’s priorities and how communication can help move them forward.

We’re the experts. You might say that in some ways, we need to change how we approach our work. We have to change as professionals.

We need to make decisions based on facts and data, not conjecture and conventional wisdom. That takes research.

I’m not saying it all has to be quantitative, academically bullet-proof (though that doesn’t hurt), but we’re the only ones who can bring employee intelligence forward to the leadership.

We need to find the balance between just executing and doing proper outreach, judging the effectiveness of our messaging, channels, tools and techniques.

Imagine a conversation with your boss like this:

Boss – What’s happening with our employees?

You – We got 400 hits on our strategy story last week!

Boss – So?

You – Uhhhhhh.

Been there? It should be more like this:

Boss – What’s happening with our employees?

You – We got a lot of comments on the strategy story. Most were OK, but a couple of them make me think we need to test some other ways of explaining the strategy to make it more relevant to more people. I followed up with a couple of calls to some people, and I have some ideas about what to do differently.

B – Tell me more!

Sean Williams
Sean Williams

That’s a different dynamic. We need more research up front, more evaluation during our communication activities, and more measurement afterwards to connect with business objectives.

I know internal commsters are totally slammed, but this is about being a serious business person. No other department gets away with ignoring this vital discipline.

The fact is that the ‘traditional’ IC person – the ex-journalist who primarily is a writer/editor, who has little experience within the operations of the business, and/or whose educational background is outside the business world – may be considered an endangered species.

In the US, IC is usually part of HR, PR, or occasionally the legal department. There is little professional education focused on the strategic assets of IC, except for the Corporate Executive Board (which now offers the IC Black Belt programme begun by Melcrum).

There still is too much emphasis on the ‘tools’ of IC – enterprise social networks, intranets, SharePoint and the like – and not enough on the research, measurement and evaluation that tests connections between employee communication effectiveness and business results.

Here are three things that I believe all IC people should focus on right away:

1. Brush up your research skills. We need not become statisticians, but we should gain familiarity with the common measures at the output level – and test the connections to both communication outcomes and to business impact. These can be quantitative and/or qualitative. Take a class, for heaven’s sake. Then do some interviews, convene some focus groups, send out a SurveyMonkey – and use the data to change and improve your plans.

2. Do a time study. Take a hard look at what you and your team are doing day to day. Which activities contribute most significantly to organisational objectives? Which don’t? Stop doing things that don’t add value. Of course, this is a difficult road to drive – but you can refocus on higher value-added activities. The proof will be in the pudding.

3. Ask more questions. We need to understand what is changing, or needs to change, in our organisation. We need to know what we’re trying to accomplish, the objectives and goals of those changes. Ask ‘why?’ What are the reasons behind the decisions we’re making? And, not least, what is the effect on our people? The easy acronym is CORE – it’s what our people want to know about virtually everything.

If we dedicate ourselves to these three tasks, we’ll be well on the way to becoming the IC pros of the future.

Six hour days: Can we really do more with less?

How would your boss react if you asked to work fewer hours for the same pay?

It might sound unlikely, but research is showing that – for certain types of job – shorter working days can improve employee performance, morale and even health.

Of course, these benefits will pale in comparison for most employers if output is affected. So is it possible to achieve a ‘full day’s’ work in just six hours?

I thought I’d give it a try.

The method

Our business uses a task management tool that lets users track time spent on major tasks, but doesn’t account for internal meetings, everyday admin, lunch breaks, discussing the Strictly results, or any of the other daily duties that fall into the ‘unproductive’ basket.

By dividing my ‘tracked’ time by the length of time I spent in the office, I was able to calculate the percentage of each day that was spent productively.

The results

Length of day Percentage of time spent on productive tasks
Control week 1 (Eight-hour daily average) 65 per cent (5 hours, 16 minutes)
Control week 2 (Eight-hour daily average) 70 per cent (5 hours, 39 minutes)
Control week 3 (Eight-hour daily average) 68 per cent (5 hours, 31 minutes)
Six-hour test day 92 per cent (5 hours 32 minutes)

Conclusion

While I’m the first to admit this experiment is far from comprehensive, the results are too striking to simply dismiss out of hand.

As the Swedish research had indicated, I found that having less time spurred me on to get things done quickly. Yes, there was time pressure, but there is on most days.

Since I finished work at 3pm I was able to go and collect my kids from school and spend some time with them at home before the usual bath and bed routine – a rare treat.

On the down side, I did opt to take a shorter lunch break and there were internal reports and updates that I chose to defer until the following day.

Can it work for you?

Working six-hour days won’t be for everyone. Jobs that involve working outside an office environment (not to mention people who are self-employed) will find it hard to break away from the eight-hour grind.

But for those working in internal communications, the idea warrants a trial period at the very least – providing you can demonstrate that productivity won’t suffer.

We asked Vanessa Kettner, Coach with productivity training specialists Personal Best, for some advice on how people can optimise productivity and achieve more with less time.

  1. Write down the things you need to and want to do; don’t keep them in your head.
  2. Stick to your list – don’t be swayed unnecessarily by latest and loudest, or by other people’s agendas (unless your role requires it).
  3. Do on a weekly basis what most people only do before they go on holiday – review all of your upcoming appointments and commitments. Getting all your ducks in a row will help you feel in control and more relaxed.
  4. Don’t ‘live’ in your email inbox. Visit at regular intervals that are appropriate to your role.
  5. Employ the two-minute rule: if you can do something in less than two minutes, do it now.
  6. Be selective about which meetings you choose to attend. Is going to a particular meeting the absolute best use of your time?
  7. Make sure you have all the tools you need in order to work productively and that your workspace is attractive to you.
  8. Take breaks. Moving around and getting away from your desk will allow you to focus better when you’re back in your seat.

Guest blog: Three secrets to internal communications measurement

Independent communications practitioner Jane Revell shares her secrets to effective IC measurement.

Wherever I go a recurring theme is raised by internal communications people: the ongoing challenge to measure our work and demonstrate return on investment.

Research by Newsweaver shows that although 95 per cent of internal communications professionals say measurement is important, it is the activity people spend the least time on.

With more information at our fingertips than ever before, measurement must not continue to be our Achilles heel. Here are three simple ways to get into the measurement cycle today.

1. Know what you want to achieve – what do you want people to think, feel and do as a result?

Measurement is often considered only after the work has been done. This needs to change.

Whether you are launching a new digital tool, holding an employee event or creating internal videos, you need to set out the purpose of your internal communications (what you want people to think, feel or do) from the outset as you plan your activity.

Set SMART objectives and know how and when you will measure before you start.

2. Make time to measure monthly

Measurement is regularly put to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list and often ‘bumped’ for something ‘more important’. It needs to be prioritised with time set aside each month to measure against the objectives set.

Measuring monthly with a quarterly review is a good approach. A top tip is to establish a process of reporting on findings to senior leaders to demonstrate the value of internal communications and our role in helping to achieve business goals.

The measurement you do will depend on the objectives you have set, however, tools you can use include:

  • Pulse surveys (well-designed questions that focus on finding out if you have achieved the objectives set)
  • Focus groups and interviews with employees
  • Analytics (intranet, email, apps, microsites)
  • Event feedback
  • Quotes from conversations with people across the organisation
  • Conversations and comments via internal social media, blogs and direct to leaders and managers.

3. Create a measurement dashboard

This isn’t as scary or complex as it sounds. The idea is to simply reflect on measurement results so you can track trends and identify any challenges or issues so that you can review and change your approach.

An internal communications measurement dashboard should include:

  1. An overview of the business goals you are working towards
  2. Overall communications aims
  3. Sections for each objective set with a summary of the measurement findings under each to show process against the objective
  4. Visual aids, graphs, pull-out numbers, direct quotes from employees.

 

Useful resources:

CIPR Inside measurement matrix

Kevin Ruck ICQ10 model

@JaneRevellIC

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/janerevell