How Can Internal Communicators Think Globally?

Sharing an article on cross-cultural communications that I recently co-authored with Priya Thyagaraj of Touchpoint Communications for Simply-Communicate.


Interested to hear your thoughts.

Stepping Back to Move Forward

In a new role and already experiencing ‘performance’ pressure? Many organizations and teams expect communicators to be on the ‘ball’ from Day 1. It make communicators feel inadequate if they don’t ‘deliver the goods’ right from the word go.

One of the best pieces of advice a leader once shared with me was to take time to understand the culture and the ‘lay of the land’ before crafting a strategy or executing on a plan. Or, you might end up becoming part of the ‘furniture’. I found that insight very powerful and realized that stepping back is often as good as moving forward.

Here are a few pointers for communicators who are starting out in a new role, whatever may be the maturity of the function or the organization they work for.

Gauge what makes the place tick: Figure out how ‘things are done’ around in your new workplace. Every organization worth its name has a culture which keeps the engine running. Understanding how you fit into the overall scheme helps to ascertain your course of action.

Ask ‘why’: Most often, the team may have been doing the work how it ‘used to be’ since no one asked ‘why’! Possibly, the channels have evolved or the technology is outdated and since no one challenged status quo work remained the same way. Maybe, the team is focusing on areas which don’t matter anymore!

Connect with the influencers: Seek out key players in the organization and the team. Ask around for influencers who have shaped the way the function is run or even go back and connect with former employees who have had a role to play.

The current perceptions: Meet stakeholders and talk about how they see the team and the experiences they have faced. Many a time you can gauge how they perceive the team and their contributions. Probe by asking for the best and not so great work they have seen the team churning out.

Establish a vision: Before tackling the most pressing issues on hand define your vision for the function and how it fits into the overall plans for the organization. The vision can cover where the team will be in two, three and five years from now. How will the roles change and what resources will you need.

Aim for quick wins: Aim for some quick wins to get the team and you going. Pick up an initiative that probably got dropped or didn’t get the attention it needed. It provides you an opportunity to establish standards if they didn’t exist or to reinforce your style of working.

Evaluate competencies: Gauge the team’s skills and levels they need to be at to deliver consistently against your goals. If there are opportunities to position the team based on the skills they have or you want to build this is the right time to get started. Look for industry best practices that recommend the right skills and competencies in the roles you have.


Recalibrate expectations: How things were done around the workplace and in the function may not have to be how it continues. Audit what needs to ‘stop’, ‘start’ or ‘scale’.

Measure progress: Use data to arrive at measures you can establish in the long run. Understand channel usage and effectiveness. Gauge the value you can add.

Get into a rhythm: Change can be hard for your new team members especially if you want to revisit current practices. However, if they buy into your vision and know how they play a role in it work can become easier.

Stepping back, asking the right questions and staying aligned can often be the difference between tentative steps a team takes and the giant leap you make for your organization.