This post seemed to have got a lot of interest and I am sure the conversation will shape how many internal communicators begin thinking of their team and role.
There were so many different perspectives which readers shared as solutions when I shared this post on Linkedin.
I mention a few here:
a) ‘You need to have the right information to engage’
b) It is about ‘ownership’ and ‘drive’
c) The focus on ‘outcomes’ vs ‘output’
d) The relationship with ‘measurement’ needs strengthening
e) ‘classic example of a communication function that has viewed its responsibility as creating and distributing messages instead of taking the lead in strengthening working relationships’
f) ‘connection with purpose missing’
g) ‘issue with name of the team and part of it might be the type of people you’re hiring’
h) ‘help them see the line of sight’
All great points.
Everyone deserves respect and recognition for what they do. Unfortunately, respect for a function or a role isn’t easy to come by – leave along hold on to. You gain it after a great deal of toil and can lose it in an instant. Especially in a strategic function like internal communications it can become very frustrating when it isn’t often seen that way by stakeholders.
Respect comes based on the value you add and how you continue demonstrating it over time. Here are some pointers that Dinesh can use to change the current perception and get the team’s mojo back.
Go to the source: By understanding how these perceptions came by can lead to better ways of tackling the issue upfront. Ask around, meet with colleagues and stakeholders. Possibly even talk to the former manager. Have a clear set of questions while talking to the former manager – you can seek inputs on how the team is positioned, what makes stakeholders like or dislike the team, which is the best and worst piece of work the team produced, how has the team been recognized and if there is a plan to develop and grow the team.
Define your focus areas: Very often ambiguity can lead to internal stakeholders from understanding the team’s priorities. The manager is expected to define what the team stands for and delivers and then have all stakeholders aligned on the process, benefits and outcomes. Even a simple list can help stakeholders know what they can expect or can’t expect. The latter is more crucial when the team is small and the expectations are varied.
Communicate your team’s objectives: Create your page, list your annual plan and seek feedback from as many stakeholders as you can. Discuss what ‘good’ looks like and how they can engage with you. There will be some cases where your team will be heavily involved and sometimes play a less engaged role. Clarify ownership and responsibilities not just within the team but also from stakeholders. Communications is everyone’s responsibility.
Demonstrate positive intent: Dramatic changes can often befuddle stakeholders. Rocking the boat never helps. Instead, start with the low hanging fruits. Show intent to make simple and yet powerful changes that matter to your firm and employees. Build it over time and respect will start to come in buckets.
Recognize often and real-time: Getting the team to a reasonably ‘respectful’ spot also means recognizing the right behaviors and actions. By calling out what ‘good’ or ‘great’ looks like you can nudge them towards getting
Report out when you can: Unless stakeholders get to appreciate the value your team adds there are limited chances they will respect or even seek your team out for support. Share progress, impact and outcomes periodically. Even lessons learnt from campaigns run.
Have other suggestions to get a communication team’s respect quotient up? Do share them here.