The one thing most internal communication pros struggle with
I will argue that even just a decade ago, employee communications was NOT a focus of most companies and was something that just happened. And then the smart companies started figuring out that by focusing communication on employees, then necessary improvements and behavior changes began to realize.
And now in 2013, internal communication is most undoubtedly "a thing." You say the words and people know (or at least think they know) what you are talking about. But despite this, something is still missing for many pros.
The secret sauce
So what's missing? What's the secret sauce some communicators have that others don't? What's a simple differentiator? It's simple.
You can't' manufacture it. You can't just add water. There's nothing instant about it. It's built. It's aged. And it's maintained. As hard as it is to earn, it can be lost just so easily. And it's based on perception. We know how dangerous that can be.
To date, there's not a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" for employee communication. I suppose someone could pursue an APR from PRSA or an ABC from IABC but my impression is that unfortunately those accreditations don't carry much weight outside the profession.
I applaud Melcrum's Internal Communication Black Belt Program, but unfortunately do not have any exposure to it. Having worked at Six Sigma organizations, I can imagine the "black belt" label could carry some weight and open doors for communicators. Shy of spending $4,000 on this program, what's a communicator to do?
My recommendations are just that. . . recommendations. There's no science to it. But for those internal communicators who I've personally seen build and establish credibility within their organizations, there are some common threads.
- Get your hands dirty. You'd be amazed at the number of communicators who don't really understand the business they work for. If you work in manufacturing, go to the shop floor. If you work in a hospital, go see the work the nurses are doing. Get away from your desk/office/cubicle and see the business.
- Learn the business. There's understanding the business and then there's learning the business. Learn the mechanics and what makes the business tick. This will make you a better business person and a better business partner.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask intelligent questions. I'm one of those who believes there is such a thing as a dumb question. If you're asking things that show you don't understand the business, credibility will be tough to build.
- Always deliver. If you make commitments to your business, then deliver on those commitments. Nobody likes to hear excuses. But if commitments change based on the business, then just provide explanations. Otherwise, deliver on expectations you and the business have set.
There's no rocket science to the bullets above and I'm sure there are others. But if you're an internal communicator and have credibility within your business, be thankful. But also do not rest. It can be taken away so, so easily.
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