How the evolving IC function is changing the role of IC leaders…
The fact that the internal communications (IC) function is going through widespread transformation should come as no real surprise to those in and close to it.
Communications of old used to be about pushing messages down from the top in a very controlled manner, clearly this was due to the hierarchical structure of an organisation. However a more open organisational structure is now emerging.
Of course, each organisation is different, with some experiencing greater change than others. But the three most common factors driving the change are: The digital workplace, millennial workers, and a collaborative way of working.
For most organisations, an element of hierarchy will likely always exist. So it should fall upon the IC leader to be the one to bridge any hierarchical levels, in order to further develop an open culture. To do so they need to act more as advisors, connectors and facilitators of communication, rather than just being seen as those who help push the messages from the top to the bottom.
IC leaders need to be those:
– Advising employees on the use of digital tools and technologies to help them in their roles.
– Seen as the ‘go-to person’ for help, guidance and training on the digital workplace, especially so for senior level workers – As senior level workers will need to be advocates (and users) of the tools, in order to ensure widespread adoption.
– Advising other departments within the organisation on appropriate communication practices – notably advising IT on the digital tools (e.g. apps) that they should be deploying for employees.
IC leaders need to be those who are instrumental in:
– Connecting employees of all levels to one another – to hold conversations, build communities and collaborate on projects.
– Connecting employees to company content – so that they feel connected with the strategy and goals of the organisation. This is moving beyond simply publishing an internal magazine or a one page article on the intranet. While these are still valid, it’s using digital communications to amplify the content being created to connect to more employees – connecting to them where they prefer to be connected.
– Connecting employees with a purpose – So that they know the role they are playing in helping the organisation to achieve its goals.
The last method of connecting will tend to be to do with connecting with groups and teams of employees. It is up to IC leaders to ensure business leaders are aware of the importance of connecting directly with individual employees (on the role the employee is playing in the organisations success).
To point out, given all the talk of the shift to digital communications in the workplace, face to face communications will always remain the most effective form of communication in terms of boosting employee engagement. A fact all leaders should be aware of.
Success in achieving the above points will undoubtedly lead to a top-down approach to communication being replaced by a bottom-up approach, creating an open culture.
IC leaders will then need to become facilitators too. As employees will be empowered to:
– Engage and collaborate with other employees throughout the organisation.
– Build their own communities and networks around specific topics.
– Create and share own content within the organisation.
All of which will require facilitation from the IC leader, to not only ensure all activity remains in line with the culture, strategy and goals of the organisation, but to help fuel and drive it further.
Hopefully it’s now clear how we think the role of the internal communication leader is changing, and the factors that are driving this change.
If you require any help with your internal communications, particularly when trying to engage with leaders, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Until next time…