Sitting on the dock of the bay….


“I’m just gonna sit on the dock of the bay, Watching the tide roll away, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay, Wastin’ time. Look like nothing’s gonna change, Everything still remains the same, I can’t do what ten people tell me to do, So I guess I’ll remain the same”

As internal communicators it is easy to sit back and watch meetings take place and discussions and decisions are made about messages and strategy. So often we can be seen scribbling in the corner and going away with questions and thoughts from the conversations we have witnessed, yet we do not speak up, and then the moment has passed.

 In Melcrum’s 2007 research about 21st Century Leadership Communication it shows that ensuring messages are credible and relevant to the audience is of paramount importance to leaders. It stated that we add value by enabling leaders to listen and that leaders from all over the business need to be part of the communication process. In order for us to do this, and add value to our businesses we must ensure that we speak up and advise based on our expertise:

Advise leaders on how to get the messages out there. Our business leaders know what they want to say. They often know what they want the result to be and we need to help them ensure people listen and engage with that message. How they want to tell the story may not be the best way and we need to advise them on, based on our experience, the best way. If we sit back then we are not supporting the business as we should be.

Have an opinion. Whilst you may not be a leader in the business, an operator, a CMO you can have a view on how they do things. To be a strategic partner to the business advising them on the strategy from a communicator’s view point is the only way forward and the best way to influence the culture and growth of the business.

Establish internal communications as a profession. During the recent CIPR Inside conference I was following the Twitter stream and was astonished to read that from a poll of 120 IC professionals only 50% viewed internal communications “as a profession”. It is a profession, a skill and something we should be proud of. But we can only achieve that if we speak up and add value to the business day in, day out.

We cannot continue to sit on the dock of the bay, watching from the sidelines, wasting time. Nothing will change if we don’t have a voice, advise our leaders and become the strategic business partner we all can be.

One thought on “Sitting on the dock of the bay….

  • Very good observation, Jenni.

    Like a lot of us, I’ve been guilty in the past of not speaking out as critically as I could have done in high-level meetings.

    Sometimes this was simply because I’d not been informed enough on a subject (the more esoteric IT roll-outs, for example) to feel that I had an authoritative voice. Other times, though, it was because of the sense that I was representing a function – Corporate Communications – that wasn’t fully understood and was still finding its way in the organisation.

    And that leads to your point about speaking up and evangelising the worth of Internal Communications. It doesn’t help that IC is often seen as an adjunct to another department – HR or marketing, for instance – and so doesn’t enjoy too much org chart validation.

    But we could help ourselves a little more by proving that we ARE actually better communicators than our colleagues, and that we might just know what we’re doing. Too often our own emails, presentations, news stories etc. are just as unwieldy and uninspired as everyone else’s. It’s like we don’t think it’s worth setting an example, or we don’t have the time to, y’know, craft something.

    We can make a difference; but if we don’t think we can add value then why should anyone else?

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