The world of work has a strong tendency to try and narrow options and close things down, too often with undue haste. From my experience, extra time invested in opening up minds and conversations with a broad range of stakeholders (or should that just say….people?) in the exploration phase leads to better decisions and time saved prior to and throughout implementation. For starters, if you take the initial paths that genuine dialogue create for you, subsequent communications are much simpler and clearer because you’ve involved those who have an interest in you and your people from the start – so there’s inherently less need for bullshitting, sorry I mean finessing that stuff later.
As technology increasingly helps us connect more easily, there is a shift in approach and increasingly I’m finding and learning about companies willing to try a more open approach. Thomson Reuters is one such company, and having run a successful unconference for their technology teams earlier this year – it’s now the turn of the Project Management community. Starting tomorrow, Thomson Reuters is creating face to face opportunities for its people to open minds, converse and look for opportunities together. You can read more about the lead up to this project and get a flavour for what is happening here, for the purpose of this blog post I want to focus on one particular thing worthy of note.
The event tomorrow is not only for Thomson Reuters Project Managers. It’s also for their fans, their customers, other colleagues who rely on their service, and people (like me even) who are simply curious about how to make the world of work….better. This inclusive method is something I’ve been fortunate to participate in previously and I’m very excited that such an influential community within Thomson Reuters is now taking up the baton (sorry I couldn’t resist!). So there will be more on this subject as the next few weeks unfold, perhaps once you get a feel for what is beginning to emerge you might like to get involved too?
The future of internal communication, that’s quite a grand title for a blog post huh? It was a subject that came up for discussion when I facilitated an afternoon of conversation for the Institute of Internal Communication recently. There were around 100 of us in the room and the conversation took place as part of the IoIC Annual Conference. I’d been asked to come in and facilitate something a little different so I figured it would be useful to get the delegates talking with each other in among a day and a half of presentations. It certainly felt very useful though I expect my snap decision to hold part of the session outdoors in the sunshine helped.
People talked about what they wanted the future of internal communication to be, and perhaps more importantly, how could they make that future come about? Here are a few things people talked about that interested me:
- Increase communication skills of the workforce – decentralise
- The impact of social depends on the culture – autocrats should be worried
- Social risks and opportunities – lose control, gain understanding
Bold thinking being demonstrated here. I was pleasantly surprised to read this as I sometimes work with internal comms teams and I find their desire to control very limiting. Expressing a desire to let go more feels very useful to me.
- Facilitate, coach and enable
- Move from craft to coach, doing to enabling – more informality
Coming from a background of facilitation I guess you’d expect me to highlight these. There was lots of talk of developing a coaching culture and even a a murmur of anarchy! It’ll never catch on, surely? 😉
There were a couple of things I was less comfortable with, including:
- Communications as part of engagement scores
- How do we get others to adopt communication principles?
Resist the temptation to measure everything I say, and if you are serious about coaching as part of the role of internal communications, that has to be the answer to the adoption question, no?
There was also some talk about being a part of HR and/or merging internal and external communication. I’d be interested to know what HR practitioners think about that.
Making it Happen
I like it that people were willing to give this next conversation a try. It’s easy to think about what might be, less so to start to plan how to make it happen. There was some discomfort borne out of ‘we’re not the decision makers’ coming from a few voices but hey – if the IoIC can’t decide how to make it happen – who can?! Here are a few things that stood out for me, and I’d be keen to be a fly on the wall in 2013 to learn how much of this has begun to happen.
- Build bridges. At the top level to improve our understanding of decision making processes and at the front line to understand what is needed there. Then connect the two.
- Get out there – be seen
- Invest in digital – HR and IT as delivery partners
- Learn from listening. Trust and openness, don’t shoot people down the first time they make a mistake, we all make them
- Define guidelines – ask the audience
- Social media restrictions come from a place of fear, re-educate
I enjoyed this session very much. It’s useful fun to spend time with different people and gather different perspectives, that’s definitely a big plus about my line of work. I’ve pulled together a more detailed set of notes on Scribd for you to download and read at your leisure, I hope they are useful for you.
Some days the stars are aligned, and everything clicks into place. It’s great to enjoy those days and to be thankful for them. I had one of those days yesterday and I’d like to share it with you.
I spent the day with the Institute of Internal Communication at their annual conference yesterday. I facilitated some conversations in the afternoon which were a lot of useful fun. It was such a nice day that we took some of the conversations outside, sometimes having no slides to hold you back is just the best! I’ll share more about the content of the conversations on a later date but for now I just want to acknowledge all the lovely feedback from people, it was very motivating.
The Big Apple
After the conference I was sitting at Birmingham International station waiting for my train back to London when the phone rang. A small seed of an idea that’s been slowly growing suddenly blossomed into flower. Turns out I’m heading to New York City to do some work after the Ohio gig. I have a postcard from Laurie on my desk depicting the Empire State Building and of course my Dad and I enjoyed a super trip to NYC a few short years ago. I hope to share more on this at a future date, for now my sincerest thanks go to the lovely person who called me yesterday with such great news.
On arriving home I found a letter which turned out to be from someone Dad worked with. They’d not seen each other for over thirty years, and news of Dad’s death had recently reached this person. I’m grateful to the letter writer for being in touch, and I hope you don’t mind but I’d like to share an extract from the letter with you:
Paul was my manager in the early 1980’s. He was a good manager to us and a very kind friend to those around him. He also loved children and played delightfully with my son when he used to visit the office. I hope Paul has grandchildren as he would have been a lovely grandfather. I remember when your Mother died how much Paul grieved for her. But above all his concern was how he could love and care for you, and so all the right things. We were very fortunate that he extended his fatherly concern to his staff.
I couldn’t sleep last night with all of these things buzzing in my head, what a day! I’m very fortunate.
The weekend is nearly here and I plan to spend most of it in the garden. How about you? Whatever you are up to I hope the stars align for you too.