We kicked off the evening by discussing the role of CEOs and how they need to be authentic and to connect with employees.
It can be a lonely place at the top and being the CEO’s trusted communications adviser is crucial for internal communication professionals. The need to be the eyes and ears of the organisation is vital, as is the need to feed this back to the top.
We are always saying that internal communications gets blamed for everything but our HR and Marketing counterparts often believe that they get blamed too. IC professionals need to be able to prove their worth – understand what the organisation wants to achieve and how internal communications can help them achieve this and what success looks like.
One panellist said that the purpose of internal communications is about the employee experience and employer brand… And how Glassdoor provides a great external benchmark, along with attrition and retention rates.
However success can be difficult to measure as ideally everyone should be working together. The internal communications function should be facilitating this and getting the right people round the table and enabling others to be good communicators.
The overwhelming consensus of internal social media (and everything else) is to clarify the business outcomes that are needed and being clear with employees what the purpose is.
Too often the channel becomes the focus and not what the organisation is trying to achieve.
You need to question the business outcome – what is the cost of just pumping messages out? Leaders have to set the tone and the culture, they have to support initiatives and get involved and lead from the front. It was highlighted that calling it Social Media probably doesn’t help either, maybe ‘Networking or Collaborating Media’ would perhaps be more explanatory and helpful…
The ultimate goal can be said to facilitate employees contributing to the strategy of a company and understanding their part to play and what this means in their day jobs. Leaders need to connect with employees so that they can communicate with them.
If there’s no rapport, there’s no communication.
It was agreed that one of the best ways of creating this connection can be through personal stories. However each leader needs to work to their strengths and the internal communications manager should be providing this counsel.
- Oliver Uitenbroek, Head of Communications, CLS group
- Paul Riddell, former Head of Strategic Comms at AXA Wealth and now head of Marketing and Communications at Lendy Finance
- Norman Pickavance, Adviser, Author & Activist, former Strategic Leadership Team, Grant Thornton
- Laura Ferguson, formerly Head of People Engagement & Change, BG Group
Written by Lottie Gunn, Senior Consultant.
Lottie specialises in recruiting internal communications and engagement professionals and has previously worked at FTSE 100 companies and on the consultancy side in communication positions for over a decade.
Picture by Richard B. Levine SIPA USA/PA Images.