Despite snow, wind and rain everyone made it to class on Saturday 23 March for discussions around planning, branding, employee voice, persuasion and internal social media.
We were joined by Juliet Earp who talked us through her case study with HSBC and Tom Crawford from The Brain Miner who discussed engaging with brands and also the importance of our own personal brands in business.
I have really struggled to keep up with the reading this time. I think as work gets busier you use any downtime you get to just relax and and get some head space, using that time to read and learn just hasn’t been feasible. Still, this is why I chose the face to face course. After 4 hours in class the bug is back and I’m really starting to get excited about my paper now.
We started the day looking at planning and discussed the CIPR Inside Measurement Matrix and the RADAR model designed by Kevin Ruck: Research, Assess, Decide, Act, Review. A simple but effective model that demonstrates what we should be doing as we work through our comms challenges. Measurement is high on my agenda for next year so this is really relevant for me at the moment. As I start to explore what to measure and how to map this to stakeholders the tools we are talking about throughout the diploma are really helping.
Employee Voice is a real buzzword at the moment. For me, it should be part of the conversation and dialogue that internal comms facilitates so it was great to hear how HSBC are integrating it into the business. Once a quarter they have asked managers to swap a normal team meeting for an ‘exchange’. This is where the manager or team leader says nothing, there is no agenda and the people are allowed to talk about issues, challenges or give feedback on everything. I love this idea and will be looking at how we can use a similar method in our business.
From channel champs to brand builders was the topic before and after lunch. Tom used to work at EON so he took us through his challenge and how he overcame it. It was great to hear from someone talking about communicating with people who are are offline and hard to reach – there were some great ideas:
- Using audio and video for team briefs and senior leader profiling
- Sending magic tree car air fresheners to the guys in the vans with the phone number to listen to the audio cascades
- Using a more intelligent conference call system where everyone can dial in and ask the CEO or the board a question. Managed through a moderator and with people being able to speak managed throughout the call this seemed so simple yet so effective
- Use of storytelling to engage people with the strategy
- A strong team of one internal comms person per thousand employees – something I think every department struggles with
- Changing meeting rooms to be customer spaces. For EON this was different rooms in a house, with products in use throughout the room
As the role of the internal communicator changes our personal brand in the business needs to be considered. I’m often guilty of letting frustrations air in public and being impatient with the speed at which we can affect change.
“A brand is what people say about you after you’ve left the room” – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon
So it is time to think about my own brand and what I stand for. Not just what my career says about me but what is important in my life – something we probably don’t share enough. Tom also gave an example of where the internal comms team should have their own ambition/mission to give them a sense of branding:
“Through sustaining pride and belief in this organisation we will ensure colleagues feel inspired to do their best work and advocate for our brand, right when we need it most.”
As we start to look at what our personal brand says, and the brand of the department we also need to consider the roles that we play in our businesses:
- The court jester – telling the truth and being a bit different to the norm
- The Gok Wan – offering advice on what clothes, appearance etc. are appropriate and when a suit just isn’t ok
- The Mystic Meg – looking outside the business and determining the effect that will have on our business and our people
- The spin doctor – the role that will never go away but is not our main focus
- The psychologist – understanding people
Internal social media and persuasion
We ended the day with a quick look at internal social media, persuasion and ethics. We looked at the four types of digital culture: Closet communicators, co-creators, controlled communicators and constrained communicators. Great to start looking at some theory around such a hot topic.
So as persuasion and ethics ended the day it became clear that being a credible communicator is the way forward. Showing expertise, trustworthiness and goodwill are all traits we should be demonstrating, everyday.
So as day three closed, the plans for the project start to take shape even more and it’s time to seriously hit the books and write this literature review!