Internal Communications (IC) is increasingly being recognised as a discipline which is central to the success of many organisations. Yet, a number of key tensions are preventing it from maximising its impact. Perhaps the most contentious of these is, ‘where should internal communications sit?’
This question opened an evening of lively debate among a selection of invited business leaders, HR Directors and leading communications professionals at a Comment8 roundtable dinner. In this report we share some illuminating insights from the discussions ignited by this topic. We describe what we believe are the fundamental roles of IC in businesses today:
• Strategic Advisor
• Tactical Advisor
• Leadership Communications Coach
• Change Enabler
To maximise their impact in each of these areas fully, IC professionals need to set themselves up for success. They must enhance their credibility and scope of influence by building close relationships across the organisation and provide robust performance data to prove their worth. We identify seven critical success factors:
• Broad and deep connectivity
• Impartiality and challenge
• Strong commercial awareness
• Supporting authentic leadership communication
• Robust measurement
• Empowerment Expertise
Instead of focusing on where IC sits, what really counts is how it can enable people and performance. IC needs the commercial awareness to warrant its role in the strategic decision-making process, representing the employee voice at the top table. Harmonisation between internal and external communications is also a necessity, due to heightened levels of connectivity and empowerment provided by social media.
Essentially, we see communications as the lifeblood of an organisation. For an organisation to thrive, communications must flow. Leaders play a crucial role in the healthy stream of communication within their organisations. By empowering and enabling effective leadership communication, IC can move towards a position of helping managers to communicate rather than managing communication.