Who’s the book for?
Look, I’d be bold enough to say, “Who isn’t it for?” Walk into any organisation and point out to me anyone who doesn’t have a stake in better employee communications. Maybe some don’t care, but no one in an organisation can work in a vacuum – a comms silence. They need to know how to do their job and keep up with changes at the very least. Health and safety alone provides a ton of communications – and I’ve been in organisations where it is the dominant topic.
To be specific though, I’d say the book obviously supports comms managers (and definitely internal comms managers if the organisation has such a thing – they’re not that common). But, as I say in the book, every manager is a comms manager really. They should all know the best ways to communicate, because their teams and reports expect it. They email, run meetings, speak on videos…they’re high-level communicators so having some knowledge of best practice I would think is valuable.
I think CEOs in particular should understand how this game works; the troops look to them to be the best communicator in the organisation. I’ve worked with some excellent CEOs – Paul Ravlich at Siemens and Peter Reidy at KiwiRail – who knew this and made themselves available, familiar with best practice and highly supportive of the internal comms programme. But senior management team members should also embrace this – and have a place for internal communications in their operational plans. That particularly applies, I believe, to Human Resources management; employee comms is the lifeblood of their business within an organisation, particularly given the lead role they have in managing change – when the need for comms rises significantly.
But what I’d really like is for the young, the new, the people who don’t have to manage anyone but themselves – the ground troops – to absorb my story and be emboldened to seek and even demand that comms be done well. My dedication in the book is to “every employee who ever felt left in the dark…” telling them “there is a better way”, and the book I hope maps that out for them.
What will I get from the book?
What I hope the book provides is guidance on
- what internal comms is for
- how to find out what people want to know about
- how to find out what’s working and what isn’t – where the gaps are
- who does the work
- how to use the different channels effectively
- how to get cut-through
- how to involve your business partners
- how internal comms works with external comms
- how to measure your internal comms programme
I think people will find a few unusual things in the book. I talk a lot about cut-through and float a few novel approaches to standing out from the barrage of comms people encounter, like pantomime and raps, A-to-Z guides, posters, foyer pictures. I talk about “coastwatchers” in an organisation and how valuable they can be – that’s a concept few will have heard about, I suspect.
And I think people will get a sense of my utter belief in, and commitment to, planning. One of my favourite quotes is Lewis Carroll’s which is about that essential part of any plan – the objectives; Carroll said “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” When I talk to people about internal comms I liken this to the tendency to seize on doing something as if that’s the objective, eg to make a video or a brochure.
Too often a lot of effort goes into doing something when the reason why – what you’re trying to achieve – has been barely dwelt on.
And that’s part of the biggest challenge: taking internal comms seriously and committing to doing it better. If the organisation doesn’t make that commitment, it will be hard to make any meaningful improvements.