Ten professionals from the internal communication (IC) and employee engagement disciplines were interviewed during the show. Among the main topics, there were: the importance of fostering engagement in the workplace, embracing digital communications, the state of the IC industry and the raising of young talents in internal communications.
The discussions were very interesting. I particularly liked the fact that the environment was very diverse. In fact, many people with different expertise and background took part in it. All of them, each with their own area of experience, brought some valuable insight in to the conversation. Also it was particularly appreciated exploring the link between employee engagement and the role of internal communication in that respect.
Below are some of the marginalia that I wrote down during the show:
David MacLeod and Nita Clarke: – Engage for Success – discussing the new Engage For Success website and the role that employee engagement will play inside the enterprise in 2013
“Engaging for Success, the 2009 report for the UK government, was to try to bring some sort of insight to the employee engagement topic. Then we wanted to bring this forward, putting the 'thinking' about engagement and this is the reason for the Engage for Success movement: shining light on good practice, raising the profile of the topic...
The way we do that and the way we want to continue doing it is throughout a voluntary movement...
Every week throughout the website, new practice and case studies are shared, practitioners participate to events, people share their challenges...the movement is moving.
Can internal communication contribute to it? Yes, internal communication is central to this. Any best practice that worked in organisations should be shared. Get involved with your ideas...this is a movement that want to stimulate the thinking about engagement and internal communication has a lot to offer.
How can internal communication support line managers in engaging with their people? Line managers are critical to engagement, the relationship with the manager is at the heart of engagement. The role of communication is essential...to make sure that there is 'voice'... giving VOICE to employees throughout listening and also social media and new technologies. There is a huge potential for HR and internal communicators to make sure that managers have the right skills. Communicators have a critical role to make sure that people are heard, motivated and enthused.
Make the best of the potential that people can bring in and take it seriously...engaging the staff”.
The IC Crowd: Rachel Miller, Jenni Wheller and Dana Leeson - discussing how the IC Crowd is successfully connecting the internal communications community
“The IC Crowd, the internal communication community, is predominantly on twitter and has now over a thousand of followers.
Its aim is to gather all the internal communicators together in one place, 'sharing opinions' among internal communication practitioners, asking questions, getting advice, suggestions...being part of the conversation.
The IC Crowd also gather the crowd in person through events (e.g. the Christmas event in London) where people can ask questions, discuss topics and share opinions face-to-face.
During the 'unconference', which is a conference without agenda, practitioners are gather together within a room. The practitioner comes along and says what topic or issue he/she would like to discuss during the event, what is important to him/her”.
VMA: Michelle Morgan, Andrew Holland and Tony Stewart – discussing the findings of their annual Professional Development in Internal Communications's survey
“From the latest survey it emerged that the internal communication function still needs to be recognised and understood for the value it has to offer. It still needs to demonstrate it.
Practitioners seem to feel that, in these difficult economic times, with financial crises, IC needs to justify its worth and existence more and more.
In terms of representation at board level, only 5 percent of the practitioners who took part in the last survey said they had a board member representing internal communication.
However, it is also true that more seniors have started to have a better understanding of the internal communication function. More heads for example have seen an increase. With this it has also derived greater expectation, which requires the function to be more strategic.
And, in terms of future trends, there is more talent around the table and the future is promising.
In terms skills, added to the communication expertise, employers require good business knowledge from the IC function.
How do you get the best learning? How do you develop your skills? On the internal communication job itself or throughout internal communications courses? Both. It has to be a mix. Training helps you to work on the competencies and knowledge needed to do the job. However, there is not replacement to the experience.
Self-awareness: the internal communicator has to be self-aware and responsible of his/her development and profession. The discipline is constantly changing and practitioners need to be able to adapt”.
“Internal communicators practitioners need to combine the wisdom with the tools”
IoIC's 30 Under 30 initiative: Suzanne Peck and Helen Deverell - IoIC President and Editor at Sequel Group - discussing the "30 Under 30" initiative which aims to shine the spotlight on young internal communicators.
“The idea of the initiative came from the will of doing something of tangible for young people who wanted a career in internal communication.
It is an initiative that embraces the diversity of young internal communicators talents, people under 30...
The ones who made it were the ones who proved to make a difference in the industry.
Age does not matter. The initiative did not want to be elitist but a way for the best of the youngest generation to be listen to, and recognised for their achievements within the industry.”
However, age a part: (some final comments)
“It is what you have inside yourself”
“The most important thing is having passion since the discipline evolves...it needs lots of learning”...“Emotional commitment”...
“Learning from challenging yourself, learning from people around you, focus on development”
“Do not be afraid of trying (e.g. with internal social media)...Learn and grow: it is how you learn, how you grow, how you challenge yourself that can help you make a difference”
“You can impact someone's life, this is what I love of internal communication...the emotional connections”