Communications Academy

Which challenge do you need to face first as an Internal Communicator?

July 16, 2019
Communications Academy
Which challenge do you need to face first as an Internal Communicator?
Chapters
Communications Academy
Which challenge do you need to face first as an Internal Communicator?
Jul 16, 2019
Staffbase
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we talk with Managing Director of AB and host of The Internal Comms Podcast, Katie Macaulay. 

Links:

3:15 Katie Macaulay’s Internal Comms Podcast: https://abcomm.co.uk/podcasts/

9:00: Blind - Anonymous community app https://www.teamblind.com/articles/Topics

20:22 AB Internal Comms Podcast - Episode 11: Paolo Peretti https://abcomm.co.uk/podcasts/episode/episode-11-putting-the-soul-back-into-patisserie-valerie/

30:28 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey https://www.amazon.com/Habits-Highly-Effective-People-Powerful/dp/0743269519

34:00 Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan https://www.amazon.com/Search-Inside-Yourself-Unexpected-Achieving/dp/0062116932

41:02 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer https://www.edelman.com/trust-barometer

42:20 AB Internal Comms Podcast - Episode 9: Harry Hugo https://abcomm.co.uk/podcasts/episode/episode-09-how-to-win-colleagues-and-influence-people/

44:00 The Daily Goat Vlog Series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAsnl4DFN4Q&list=PLxBXkvmr_eCinU3HLgR4TgNzQZ8nsTJ7b


Quotes:

0:54 Introduction: Katie Macaulay - Managing Director  of AB employee communications agency


1:30 Tell us about yourself and what you do?

1:38 Katie “fell into internal communications, as many people do, through a career in journalism.” “Today I have, by far, my dream job. I run an agency called AB… I run the internal comms podcast...which is a natural extension of exploring what’s next for internal comms.”


3:30 Why do you think it is such a common trend that people “fall into” an internal communications role?

4:04 “We are a young profession… A turning point happened in the 90s…of course came this thing called the worldwide web, mobile comms, social media, and it made engagement with our audiences a lot easier, but also we could engage with people in more creative ways. Internal communications has been on the rise.” “We live in an era where great organizations are built from the inside out, so I am now where it matters in terms of building a great organization.”


6:45 What’s the first thing you do on your first day as an internal communicator?

7:12 “Day one for me is when you say yes to the job offer.”. Firstly, “I always hop over to the investor relations page… that’s usually the closest thing you can find to the business strategy...you’re also going to want to know what people are saying about this organization, particularly people who work there and used to work there.” You should be looking for commonalities among levels of management in the company, but also should be “particularly interested, almost overwhelmingly excited, by the gaps, by the misunderstandings, because that’s where you need in the future to focus your energy and attention.”


11:57 If you can or cannot segment your message to your new audience, how do you overcome it and reach those people?

13:03 “Segmentation is not just about engaging people, it’s demonstrating yo

Speaker 1:
0:01
We don't live in a world anymore where one size fits all, need to know a nice no come work in harmony. I don't think you should see them as fighting against each other. Um, but I would just caution against this idea that um, we know what people need to know. Um, I think you need to ask, I think it's as simple as asking really this is softly different now I'm in a very special place in my heart for an organization and we live in an era where great organizations are built from the inside out. So I am now where it matters in terms of building a great organization.
Speaker 2:
0:37
Thanks for listening to the podcast. We've got a ton of great content that covers the full journey of deploying a branded employee app. Go to staffbase.com click on resources and select employee app guide. That's it. Best wishes and back to the show. Hello and welcome. Today we are talking with managing director of Ab and host of the incredible, the internal comms podcast, Katie McCauley. Katie, thank you so much for joining.
Speaker 1:
1:07
Jason is an absolute pleasure, slightly wearing for me to be in the hot seat and not be asking the questions, but nevertheless wonderful to be here.
Speaker 2:
1:16
That's great. Ah, yeah. Well I'll tell you, we are, I'm a big fan of your podcast. I think the way that you tackle the whole this whole thing called internal comms is really quite a exciting. And I, and uh, I'm looking forward to learning from you and from all of your experience in the field. But before we get started, could you just tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you do?
Speaker 1:
1:39
Sure. Absolutely. So 2020, we will mark 30 years of working in internal communications. I can't lie about my age, even if I used to. I certainly can't now. Um, so I fell into internal communications like so many people do, um, through a career in journalism. Um, that was very much kind of, I guess, um, very motivated by too much Lois lane growing up. Um, so superman for me didn't really work. You know, here's the guy running around with underpants over a pair of tights. I wasn't quite sure about superman, but Lois lane had tried to get story to, I liked the way she wanted to hold power to account and she kept asking all good questions. So that was me. Uh, growing up wanting to be Lois lane. As soon as I started working internal combs, I just fell in love with it. And for me it was the business aspect. It was this privileged position that we get at the heart of organizations. And so over those 30 years I've worked in house, I've worked as a freelance consultant today. I have by far my dream job. So I run an agency called Ab. It was set up in 1964 so it's the longest establish IC agency in the UK and has seen IC transformed in that time. So, um, yeah, that's,
Speaker 2:
3:00
that's me basically. And I do run the internal comms podcast and I wrote a book a couple of years ago called from cascade conversation. So the podcast is a natural extension of exploring what's the next, I guess for internal comms. Absolutely. That's great. Uh, and I will be sure that in the show notes, uh, I will make sure that anybody listening can go right to this incredible podcast. It certainly sets the bar very high in terms of learning about internal comms and just all the different journeys and challenges involved in it. Um, you mentioned something right at the top, which was with other communicators. I think this is very common is that you fell into the role. So I, I've, I've said this before in other episodes, but I'll sit down at a conference, an internal comms conference and in front of me will be someone in PR, will be someone in HR, they could be in sales, they may actually have the word internal comms somewhere in their title. They might not, it might have the word people. It could be anything. So why do you think this is such a common trend?
Speaker 1:
4:05
Yes. That we just, we just tend to fall into it. We don't make a deliberate choice. I would say that I do see that changing. But right off the bat I'd say that we are still quite a young profession. So in the UK, our industry body is called the Institute of Internal Communication. And it's 70 years old this year now. Okay. Not too bad. That's on a par with maybe public relations and media relations. But for many of those decades of its life, it was called the Association of Industrial Editors. And that tells you everything you know, where everything you need to know about IC for many decades of its life. It's changed fundamentally. And so I'm meeting more and more people who are making a deliberate choice to go into community internal communications as opposed to, as you say, sort of fall into it through other routes. I think the turning point for me probably happened in the 90s so you've got this chap called William Conn who coined the phrase employee engagement very, you know, he did unintentionally kicked off a whole industry looking at um, what is engagement and how do you manage and drive it.
Speaker 1:
5:15
Then of course came this thing called the worldwide web, mobile comms, social media, and it made engaging with our audiences, um, a lot easier, but also we could engage with people in more creative ways. So I think internal communications has been steadily on a rise. Um, I say, I don't think there's ever been a better time to working in it, working it. We have a masters now, a master's degree in the UK. Um, so again, it's screening credibility. So yes, I agree with you, but I think that's changing. I'm meeting more and more people that are making quite a deliberate choice or who have tried other comms disciplines getting to and think, ah, this is subtly different now. I'm in a very special place at the heart of an organization and we live in an era where great organizations are built from the inside out. So I am now where it matters in terms of building a great organization.
Speaker 2:
6:14
That's wonderful. I love that. And it's, I think that is extremely encouraging and um, I, I that's, that's great. Yeah. People, it rather than being kind of falling into the role, people are deliberately saying, yes, this is where, this is the sweet spot. This is what I've been looking for. Um, and I didn't know about the masters program. That's wonderful. I'll have to look that up and I'll, I'll add that to the show notes as well. Um, that's really fascinating. Um, so that this, so whether you fell into the role or you're making the active choice of saying, okay, here I am, I am now an internal communicator. Um, and today's topic in particular is about that very moment, right? Okay. Day One, you are now in charge of internal communications. That is what you're doing. You're, your sole purpose is a to serve as this internal communicator. The first question is what's the first thing you do?
Speaker 1:
7:14
Okay, so I guess it's a good question, but I would sort of, one of the first questions I'd ask back in that sort of frame the conversation is when is day one because day one should never be, when you walk through the doors for the first time and work out where you're sitting and where the loser, that cannot be day one. So Day one for me is when you say yes to that job offer, you've probably skim read a load of stuff about the organization in order to get you through and success through through that interview. Now it's time to go back and do all that work properly. So where do I start? Because it happens to me obviously quite a lot now as a consultant running an agency, I've got to get under the skin of an organization pretty quickly and um, there's a few places I go straight off the bat.
Speaker 1:
7:59
So I'll always hop over to the corporate website and find if it's a listed or quoted company, the investor relations page and download the last few presentations to the investor community. That's usually the closest thing you can find to the business strategy. These things can get quite technical. You might want to find a friend to understand some of that technicality if you don't know about it. But it's usually very warding in terms of really getting under the skin of where this business is going. The other thing that comes for free is that most of the large accounting firms, KPMG, Deloitte, e y produce sector insight reports on a very regular basis. So I wanna know not just what this organization's about but what's happening in the sector, what are the kinds of trends and forces shaping the sector because they're bound to be shaping that organization as well.
Speaker 1:
8:50
So getting under the skin of that, and then obviously you're going to want to know what people are saying about organization, particularly people that work there or used to work there. Now there's obvious places like glass door. Um, I came across blind for the first time last week and had to blog about it, but this anonymous website discussion forum where people can go and sort of ask questions and raise concerns and opinions about their organization. So linkedin, Twitter, all these, all these places. So there'll be a lot of information you can get about how your organization's perceived, I guess by current employees and ex employees. Um, you can obviously ask to be sent information along as you're sort of NDA doc and all the rest of it. You might get sent the latest results of the engagement survey for example, which would be jolly useful even on organic ground to show you who's reporting to who.
Speaker 1:
9:43
Then you're in and it's your first day. I would say sit down and think what are the questions I need answering about this organization? And these should be intelligent, open questions, questions like what does success look like for this organization? What are the barriers to success? Both the internal ones and the external ones? How should communications be inside this organization? What business problems are people looking to communications to fix? You want to ask those questions of as many people as possible at every level of the organization. Um, senior management, middle management, line management, front line, um, you are looking for two things. I think you're looking for where the answers to those questions are the same. That's commonality. That's what's generally understood. You are particularly interested, almost overly excited by the gaps or the misunderstanding because that's where you're going to really need in the future to, to focus your energy and your attention. So that's what I do in the first, the first few weeks and days of, of being in a new job.
Speaker 2:
10:51
That was extremely helpful. And um, dare I say wildly quotable, I think people are doing that, that that little snippet right there is going to be a reshared and reuse quite a bit I think. Um, that way I love that you immediately said, hold on, it's really not day one, it's your first year, day one is when you say I'm going to work here and I've accepted this position and yeah, there's a lot of work to be done and I, to your point, you know, you've, you've accepted, you signed the NDA, ask for information if she can get it, do the research, see what people are saying. Um, I think that's extremely relevant. And then yeah, it's, I, I think you also tapped into something at the end when you're say understand what the business is trying to accomplish. But then also, you know, there is that exciting part, which is where the gaps, cause that's who I could do some really great, I can shake things up a little bit. All right.
Speaker 2:
11:49
That's great. Um, and I think I will, I'm going to remember that cause I think it's going to lead into another question we have a little bit later. But, um, so it is now been day one and you're there and you, you've, you've got a good, fairly good grasp of what you think you need to talk about. You understand what the business is trying to say. Um, but then you have to go, oh, all right, I have this new audience. I have these new people, they're all over the place. They range, they're so diverse. I, they're, they could be in leadership. They could be, uh, working on, uh, the floor of the manufacturing plant, three countries to the left. They could be any, you know, anywhere. Um, and now it's my responsibility to communicate to them. Um, and so I think as internal communicators finding a way to either segment your message or sometimes communicators don't have the luxury of being able to segment their messages. So there's sort of two different ways to look at it. So I'm gonna pose sort of two questions do at the same time, which is this is challenging either way, is to communicate to this new audience, but if you can or you can't segment your message, how do you overcome it?
Speaker 1:
13:05
Yes, a segmentation is vital. Um, we don't live in a world anymore where one size fits all. Um, I mean, let's say, you know, let's be honest here we are giving a lot of data away for free. A lot of the time and what we get back in return for that in our personal lives is tailored, relevant, personal content. Um, and we don't necessarily expect that at work, but more and more, I think generations in the workforce will be expecting that. Why are you sending me this? You know, I don't work in engineering in Germany on that production line. You've got to stop. You're wasting my time and you're demonstrating you don't understand me. And that's ruining the relationship I have with you because you're no longer credible. I'm starting not to trust you. So segmentation is not just about engaging people, but it's demonstrating that you actually respecting their time.
Speaker 1:
13:56
You're not ordering with stuff. They don't need to know. There's two ways you can segment. Obviously you can send Ben around demographic lines, you know, how old they are, where they work and what level they're at and all the rest of it. And you can segment by sentiment. So what they feel about certain things, which might be slightly different than media habits, their media consumption habits and so on. Both are really great. All I would say [inaudible] and coming from that at the end you could have audience personas of course. And then the more detailed you get around your audience personas, give those people names, um, you know, create photographs of them, bring them to life and that will help you, again, tailor your message and tell your communications to the right people. Um, so yes, I'd employ some of those techniques that we see in the marketing world, in internal communications.
Speaker 1:
14:48
So what always strikes me as quite weird when we talk about is that, you know, if you pop along to the marketing department or in any organization, there will be a customer insights team or client insight team and they will be spending all of their time trying to get under the skin of clients so they can better create products and services and sell. They've got as a services we do not see and we haven't seen in most organizations the equivalent of the employee insight team. But we should have one. And what's wonderful about employee insight is it's free. You don't have to employ loads of um, you know, qualitative, quantitative research consultants. You can pick up a pattern pen of walk to the front line or pop over to the side or get on a plane and pop to Germany or whatever it is you need to do. So segmentation comes down to just really understanding your audiences and being really, I think very respectful for their time with, with, with their time. I think that would be a great place to start the communicators.
Speaker 2:
15:55
I think that's wonderful. And spot on. Um, I, and it, just to kind of summarize where we're at is we've talked about how you are, you've accepted this role. You're now an internal communicator. You've done the research, you've learned about your organization, you understand the business issues. You've spent some time you flown across the visit, different plants or wherever you may be. And you've talking to different, you've been able to talk to some of the leaders, you've been able to talk to some of the folks, maybe you talk to a frontline worker, maybe you talk to someone that sits in front of a desk all the time, and you get to really understand who these people are. And now you're ready. You're ready to send a message, you're ready to communicate. And then you start to realize that from a global perspective, from a national perspective, from all different types of, it could be international perspectives. This thing called important information is very subjective. For example, uh, a corporate vision could be equally as meaningful as today's lunch menu. So when working towards accomplishing an active and an engaged audience, how do you sift through this challenge of opinion here?
Speaker 1:
17:10
Yeah, I mean there's one very simple golden bullet to this and very few organizations do it. In fact almost, well almost none of them do it, but that simply to get people to subscribe so you don't create a subscription lists and, and um, you know, circulation list based off dodgy HR data, which forgive me, but a lot of the time that's the case. These a very out of date circulation lists of people that left the company, you know, 55 years ago. But you actually get people to subscribe to what they're interested in. Most communicators and leaders push back on that because they'll say exactly what you've just said, but there is information they should need to know that, that they must need to know it's vital to do their jobs. Um, I would say, well you don't make that decision. You can't decide what they need to know.
Speaker 1:
18:00
Um, so where do you start with this? You can ask them what's most important. And I certainly have heard of internal communicators that I've launched a bright new shiny channel and one of the hero pieces of content has been the launch menu because that's been the thing that's been the thing that's made everyone open it. I was working in one organization, it was a financial services organization that had a very grown up bright shiny channel that it wanted to launch across a very serious division. Um, but in order to get people to open it up, they put classified ads in it so employees could find out where they could find a villa in Corfu. Um, and it worked, you know, so need to know a nice no can work in harmony. I don't think you should see them as fighting against each other. Um, but I would just caution against this idea that um, we know what people need to know. Um, I think you need to ask. I think it's as simple as asking Bailey and watching at the moment what people are downloading and dwelling on and spending their time looking at. Um, that wouldn't be, I think a bad place to start.
Speaker 2:
19:05
I think that's really relevant is just simply speaking to the people that you're speaking to. I think that is just absolutely spot on. Um, and I can imagine it being a little scary only because you might, yeah, you probably have a very specific, uh, task ahead of you and this is the message that we need to get across. Okay. Well it turns out they might not want to hear it. Um, so then you're kind of in a different situation. But I can, by working with the people going on the ground, listening to what people are interested, what they care about, you're going to get those subscribers. I love that. Um, in fact that this kind of plays really well into the next question, which I was listening to, uh, one of your most recent episodes of the internal comms podcast, uh, which again, by the way, is incredible.
Speaker 2:
19:54
Uh, uh, you, you, you mentioned that for some communicators, uh, that they feel as if the whole process doesn't actually come naturally to them. So going to back to the previous question, you know, trying to understand how am I going to reach these people? What is interesting to them. And then on top of that, there might be this sense of, well, I don't really understand how to do this really well yet. Um, so in your experience, how do you overcome this? Is this a disadvantage, this state of mind or is it something that maybe they can leverage?
Speaker 1:
20:26
So, so interesting. Yeah. So I interviewed somebody called Paolo Peretti who has taken over a well known but at the moment, um, almost failing chain of cafes across the UK. So they've just gone into, they went into administration, they've been saved and basically he's trying to kind of turn the on that business and revive it. And he very kindly in the midst of quite a media stall because they failed in quite high profile. Um, circumstances came on the internal comms podcast. So not often you get a leader who's willing to put his head above the parapet when his company is hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons. So it was wonderful that he did. He seemed to me like a very natural leader. He blogs every day. He loves being out and about on the front line. He's your dream leader, you know, he wants to have face to face communications with people actually delivering the business.
Speaker 1:
21:25
Um, and he says it's really important to listen, which we haven't talked about yet, but you know, listening is the most important thing you can do in comps. I think. Um, and I said, well, you know, you appear to be an absolute natural communicator. He said, I am so not, I'm an introvert. And if you've read any of Susan Kane's work around introverts, it's, it's very interesting. A lot of people actually deep down our and in our introverts and they find it difficult. Um, you know, a lot of people have a fear of speaking public. Um, and so what he said is actually being an introvert is a great thing because nothing, none of this comes naturally. I have to be consciously competent is the word that he used, which I thought was wonderful, which means he has to think before he opens his mouth, before he gets on stage, before he says anything, he's got to think it all through.
Speaker 1:
22:18
And I was thinking, ah, right, yes. Now actually this could be such a valuable quality cause how many leaders have we worked for who thought they were brilliant? No, I don't need the briefing document. I don't need the Q and A's. I don't need the 10 melts of research you've done to tell me what they're going to ask and how I should answer it. I'm going to shoot from the hip, you know, and you're just there dying in a corner going this is going to make the press tomorrow cause it really, really shouldn't have said that. Um, so don't think that your, your even, you know, your fear, your reticence to communicate, particularly face to face isn't necessarily a negative thing. Um, use it to your advantage because it means you have to prep and prepare. You may be a much more powerful communicator, um, as a result.
Speaker 1:
23:07
And we live in an era of authenticity. I think it's a word that gets overused, but I think if you stand up and you say, um, this is me and this is something I really don't like doing, but I want to do it, it's important that I do it. I have a, I have a slight fear of flying though I, this is my favorite one, has a different one. But I went to a fear of flying course, 300 people in Heathrow airport a few years ago. And the first thing they did was a woman got on stage and she was shaking. She was literally shaking in front of these 300 people, almost in tears. She said, I'm an air steward. I spend, I spent 30 years working for Ba and I absolutely love being in the air. My biggest fear is public speaking. And then she was facing her fear in front of 300 people had an equally big fear of something she loved. So being open and honest about how you feel about doing it and still doing it. Gosh, give it a go or work for me
Speaker 2:
24:14
that that is, I mean, that is extremely powerful stuff in terms of just facing that fear and just let it, and in particular this, the story of, uh, being, taking advantage of your, what you think is a disadvantage to, to the point of now you're more prepared than most people will ever be, uh, to do something really. Right. Um, and I think that that's so powerful. Um, and it, it, and when you think about it, you're like, well, of course you should be prepared, but then absolutely spot on that most people, especially if you're overly comfortable in situations like that, and I don't need to see any of that information. I know you've spent 10 months working on that report, but I got this, I understand everything that, yeah, there's nothing in the data that will, that will open my eyes too much. Um, but that, that's route. That's great. And, and, and I hope that, uh, the course, uh, for you went fairly well that I'm able to fly here and there.
Speaker 1:
25:22
Yes. Well, yeah, the old gin and tonic helps as well. I have to say,
Speaker 2:
25:28
yeah, that always helps. Yet, uh, my mother in law does not like to fly either. So that's, she certainly, uh, looks for the, uh, the, that that Stewart, that stewardess that loves what she does. She looks for her very quick.
Speaker 1:
25:40
What she,
Speaker 2:
25:44
oh, so interesting. So yeah, we've talked about, um, this preparedness we've talked about and I think that's, that seems to be an overall theme is just do your homework, be conscious of what your business intends to do. And the more you understand your business, the more you understand the organization that you are representing, the easier, the more natural it's going to become to figure out what is this message? And then talking being face to face with these folks that you're working with and understanding what they, how they interpret that. That's something that I've, I've heard a couple of times in different discussions is you have this idea of what your brand is, what your image is, what your culture is, but maybe the interpretation, the reality of that on the floor is quite different. And there's an opportunity there to maybe you, as you're communicating to the organization and you're being a voice leadership, you
Speaker 1:
26:44
can kind of turn that around and say, hey leadership, check this out. There's something else going on here that you should know about because what often happens is there is a set of bright shiny values that get wonderfully curated at a top of an organization. Um, and that they're aligned, the strategic they work. Um, but often there's a set of values, um, in terms of how people are actually behaving on the ground. Cause we all have values. You know, we don't, we don't not have them until our leaders tell us what they are. Um, so there is a way of behaving and working on the ground, which these things might align but they might not align. Um, in writing the book from cascade to conversation, I really wanted to understand it a little bit more about listening for values and how we actually get under the skin of values.
Speaker 1:
27:34
Cause there's a lot of talk about values and you know, I think we all know we can't put them on posters now and create a few videos and have people suppose Hennessy adopt those values. I think we've moved beyond that, but I just want you to get under the skin of it. So I went in search of a hostage negotiator. Um, cause I wanted to understand how hostage negotiators get people to change their behavior because basically at the end of the day, a hostage negotiator is trying to get someone to put a gun down or whatever. Um, and um, I came across this guy called Richard Melinda, who's worked for the FBI and the army, the Metropolitan Police Service here in the UK. And he said, I'm only listening for someone's values. I'm not listening to sympathize. I'm not listening to walk in their shoes. I am only listening for their values. And he told me this story.
Speaker 1:
28:24
He said, I was called to a domestic siege situation. Horrible situation where a husband, um, suspected his wife, I think of something like adultery. And he tied it to a chair or petrol on her head. I mean, it was just the worst situation that Richard could have walked into. And he said, after hours of trying to get this guy to talk to him, he eventually said, wow, Richard, you work hard. You try to look after your family, you come home and, and this is what you find. And then Richard turned to me and said, what has this man just told me? And I'll say, well, you know, he's clearly angry. He's frustrated. He's probably feels even maybe powerless. And Richard looked at me and he said, Nope, you've completely missed the point. He's just told me he's a family man. He's just told me he loves and cares for his family.
Speaker 1:
29:17
So what's the next thing I say to him? Why don't I say to him, I don't want to speak to some man who's got some woman tied up. I want to speak to the husband and the father who loves and cares for his family. And that changed obviously what this man did next. So when I look at organizations, I often see this happening quite a lot, that they're trying to impose a set of values of an organization that has tremendously wonderful that no one really has properly taking the time to understand. I mean, I'm thinking of one client, which I won't name, where they have a very male dominated long-serving unionized workforce. Now you might think that in a era of change and transformation, that kind of workforce might be tricky, but actually they believe in fair play. They believe in collegiate tennis and teamwork and they were incredibly proud of the brand that they represent. All of those things are wonderful and you can really dig into that to bring the transformation to life. So don't rush to the front line with a set of values, rush the front line to ask lots of questions about what their values offer. That's what I'd say
Speaker 2:
30:24
that is. I mean, you just talk, I mean it, when I'm listening to what you're talking about here and it's, it reminded me of, um, it's a very popular book, but, uh, the seven habits of, uh, of highly effective people by Stephen Covey and theirs might of my favorite moment of that book is when he talks about the paradigm shift and it's, you know, he's on the subway and there's kids running around like crazy. And the dad just sitting there and he's upset, I'm not done up. He just not doing anything and everyone else is getting upset and kind of given the look like someone's gonna do something about these crazy kids. And you know, Stephen Covey talks about how he talks to the, uh, to the father and finds out that the mother just passed away and it's the first time the children have actually gotten some energy out and he doesn't really, you know, just kind of wanted to let them do this.
Speaker 2:
31:11
Cause it's a little brief moment of enjoyment for them. And I mean, that perfectly explains what you're describing here. It's that you ha you go in and you're like, well, we have this culture and the culture is this and this is why it's like that and this is how it works. And because it's written down and instead if you just kind of stop and talk to some people, listen and start to learn like in that hostage negotiation, yeah, you're dealing with a family man who feels a little broken right now. Then why, you know, let's talk to that. Let's talk to the father. Let's not talk to the guy that's holding someone hostage. I, that's, and you started to mention earlier that there's just so much value in really, really listening and I'd love to just, if you could expand a little bit further on that, I'd love to just get a little bit more of your take on where that value is.
Speaker 1:
32:04
It's interesting, isn't it? Because, um, the question that I pose a lot of my guests is around measurement. Um, because it's holy ground, you know, how do we demonstrate? How Fun are you in internal communications? And there's a, you know, there's a whole sort of viper's nest of questions around that we better be going to. But for me, um, I love qualitative research. Um, and I know we live in a data driven world so this is not necessarily a popular opinion, but the act of asking a very open question in a very deliberately non um, uh, in a very objective way. So your not assuming any knowledge before you ask that question. Um, I do a lot of qualitative work with the door closed in very confidential settings with people where they can really open up. Um, and for me, um, I always say about that research that the method is actually a message because we live in an era where we do get asked a lot of questions.
Speaker 1:
33:03
Um, coming back to the plane, I, last time I got off the plane, I immediately got pinged a message saying, how was that for you? I don't think my feet had touched the Toma. So we'd got, we get these kind of constant tops on the sleeve and inside organizations. We have this phrase I hear quite a lot. Oh No. Our people have survey Itis, please don't ask them another survey question. Really good research makes the subject feel great. The method of doing it is a message that says you value my time, you value my opinion, you're asking me intelligent questions, I can understand the value and the reasons why you're asking them. And also I believe you're going to do something as a result. That's kind of really important as well. And we often forget that bit. So yeah, I, there's some good books out there about listening.
Speaker 1:
33:53
Um, if anyone's into mindfulness then um, there's a book called, I'm going to forget it, but it's by Tad main Cheney, I think he set up the Google, it's called search inside yourself. He set up the Google mindfulness program and it has a lot in there about mindful listening because when we are listening in most situations, we're not actually listening with pausing between what we're going, you know, and waiting to say the next thing. Yeah. We're formulating our thoughts for the next brilliant thing we're going to say. Also, I think as you get further up and organization, there is a tendency to know or certainly to think that you should have the answer. So you walk into a room and it's like, oh my God, I must make sure I've got that key message and deliver that key message and and all these lessons messages must align and et Cetera, et cetera.
Speaker 1:
34:43
I was with a lead and not long ago and doing a sort of a walk for talk kind of floor back to the shop floor type thing and I said to him, you've actually finished a bit early, you've got half an hour. And he said, oh fantastic. Can we gather everyone together? And I said, yeah, absolutely. We gathered everyone together and I thought, right, is he going to go through the key messages one more time? Really? No. Drill them into people. He said, I've been told I've got half an hour with you guys. I didn't know I had so right. What do you want to tell me? I've got loads of questions. Can, can I just ask you these questions? And I thought, wow, this is so refreshing. How many leaders do that when they've got half an hour to spare. So, um, yeah, ask more questions, listen, hard to answers. And I think one of our questions later on is about, you know, just the most important KPI. And I think you just answered that perfectly.
Speaker 2:
35:39
Uh, quite frankly. Um, which is great. Um, so we, we've talked about this, how to execute a strategy, how to figure out a way to get people to listen to understand, and you started to tap into this authentic authenticity aspect of it, which I think is so important to, um, what sometimes communicators can come into a place where they think, okay, what I need is a shiny new tool. It's not working. Communications is not working. Um, I would argue that, you know, there's a lot of good trends out there. Some of them are mobile. Mobile Technology, uh, is something that's really big too. But no matter how great and amazing this new tool might be, it doesn't fix a poor communication strategy. So I would love to get your experience around this. Where I can imagine in your field in particular, you have, you have people looking for the, that easy button or that that's something that can solve all of the mysteries of why people aren't listening and engaging this great content that is being pushed out.
Speaker 1:
36:51
Yeah. And part of the problem is in the answer there, you know, then the question rather because there is a lot of good content out there or there's certainly a lot of content. There is a wall. Quite frankly, I think there's a war for our attention and we kind of know that, um, it's a very noisy world externally. And then I think too many maybe leaders and communicators think that, um, employee somehow owe us their attention. They don't, you know, yes, we do employ them and hopefully we offer them a decent career path and opportunities, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they, um, automatically have to pay attention to everything we say. Um, so I would say, think about what stops your thumb from scrolling in your personal life. So you know, how much content do you actually consume of the amassing amount of content you could consume on your mobile?
Speaker 1:
37:47
I'm not, this could be someone who does some research on this, but I'm going to guess it's, you know, over 90% of what you could consume as content on your mobile. You're not consuming it, your thumb is scrolling. So what is most relevant, most rewarding? Um, most timely. I think timeliness really doesn't make a difference as well. Um, this is stuff you, you know, you're just, it's glorious to, uh, to, to consume because it really serves a purpose. And IB, we always talk about content with purpose, what's the purpose behind it? So we have a kind of very simple, um, content strategy on a page. So you've got the business vision, what the business is trying to achieve, business objectives under that, that sort of dry division. And then you've got communications objectives linked directly to those business objectives. And then content, probably no more than three or four content pillars.
Speaker 1:
38:38
And that drives the kind of content you're creating or certainly the subject matters in terms of getting people to actually pay attention. I think for too long, we did just sort of draw costs at people and we didn't put them in the picture quite literally. And we weren't brilliant at storytelling really. Um, we kind of probably made too many announcements, you know, dear colleague on writing, do you blah blah blah. Um, and we didn't, yeah, we didn't probably tell stories enough. And I've noticed that trend really change. So when organizations now, for example, have mental health awareness week or something like that, um, they're doing more and more things where they'll put people in the spotlight, you know, people will share their stories and it's a human story. It's a real story. It's a genuine story. And if that gets traction, you know, that makes the difference. So it's, it's, yeah. I agree with you about the shite bright shiny tool. I don't think that's necessarily the answer. I think the quality of the content, um, comes first and then the channel potentially. Yeah, it comes after. If that makes sense.
Speaker 2:
39:50
It makes complete sense. And I, it's, it's, I've, I've been fortunate enough to be involved in a lot of different technologies throughout my career so far and every single technology deployment I've seen, it is only successful if it's being leveraged as a tool to enhance something that is already working. Um, if it's, if it's, if the tool is trying to solve a problem, it's a much harder journey. Um, and so to your point and that finding that, um, finding that story, finding the narrative is so important. And I, I think this is where a, the next question is really good segue, which is finding your, your champions, your internal influencers throughout the organization to get them to share their thoughts, their experiences. And I would, it's hard to find them sometimes. Uh, sometimes it's actually really easy because you already know who they are. Um, but I would love for you to talk about just, yeah, looking for them and finding them and how do you even go about that journey finding these people?
Speaker 1:
41:01
Absolutely. I, you really hit on an important topic here because when I read the latest Edelman Trust barometer that came out at the beginning of this year, um, wow, what an advert for internal communications because it basically said trust is in decline. Everywhere around the world is 33,000 people respond to this survey. So it's pretty robust. And in this absence of trust, now people are turning to their employers to be this credible source of truth. And there's a slide in the Edelman presentation deck. I urge every IC person to go and get it and use it in every presentation for the next 12 months as well. I've been doing, and it's called activate your employee. It's always says, this is Edelman telling us to activate peer to peer communication, you know, regular employees, technical experts within our organizations. And even the CEO. I mean that's a big advocate for going out there and um, creating great icy around all these employee voices.
Speaker 1:
41:58
So why is this important in terms of influence? I don't think you'd get influenced without trust. I think the two things are so important. They're so related to I'm not going to trust someone. I'm certainly not gonna be influenced by someone that I don't trust. Okay. And it plays into, as you say that the whole thing of authenticity, all these people difficult to find. Yes, they can be. I think, I mean I wanted to find out a little bit more about this. So for one of the episodes of the internal comms pilot podcast, I interviewed a 24 year old called Harry Hugo, who runs the goat agency, which has got revenues of 50 million pounds and creates social influencer marketing campaigns with some of the biggest brands, well not just in the UK and globally. Now we can get into a whole debate about where the social influence markers is a big bubble that's going to burst anytime soon.
Speaker 1:
42:44
It might. That's not really the point. I think the point is here, what can we learn from what's happening right now externally, internally and how we had to really, I think useful points to make. One is don't just go by numbers of followers. So we know that influence doesn't follow hierarchical lines. So don't just assume that your CEO, your head or your division, even the line managers necessarily going to be the most influential person. He's going to be someone that people pay attention to but that's maybe because they think they ought to, not because they want to. And the two things are quite different. So social influence is someone I really want to pay attention to. I actually like to listen to them. I like to hear from them. I want to be involved in a conversation. I would say quite get quite niche with your influences.
Speaker 1:
43:30
Don't say who is everyone's following, what is it you want to actually influence people about? Is it health and safety, is it wastage, is it cost margin, whatever it is. Find that niche thing and then find the people that actually are engaging in dialogue with others about that because followers can be a little bit sort of vanity metric like I think so who is actually engaging in conversation is more important, but what, how he deed almost what pretty much by accident was from a marketing point of view. He, and you can do that on youtube, just put gay daily goat into youtube and it will come up straight away. His agency does a very short day live look. And um, it was meant to be for external marketing purposes to explain to the world what social influencer agency does. It's a fly on the wall, cut together, very fast paced.
Speaker 1:
44:22
What goes on that day for 24 hours in his agency, in the UK and around the world. And he said, that's created influences that fly on the wall. Kind of just give people a platform and let them be themselves on it. And before you know it, you've got stars, you got stars of your rank and file who are now sought out by their colleagues. They're sought out by a clients. Then they found a sort of awards nights. People come up and talk to them. So if you're finding it hard to get your influence, will find your influences, then you might want to tackle the problem the other way round. Create a platform where they can be themselves. Allow them that space and that time and see what happens. Um, because you might find that these influences will come forward quite naturally and that it'll grow organically.
Speaker 2:
45:12
Oh, I love that. And I think you, you've really tapped into something so special with there is a, there is a, there's a challenge between trying to make sure that your numbers validate who you are. Um, but at the same time, you know, deep down that there is, there's a meaningful conversation that needs to occur. And I, I, I always as a marketer, I always struggle with that because numbers are everything. Uh, um, but I, I, but I battle with that in that I know that if there's something, if there's a, if there's a message that is special and it is relevant and it is specific to that niche like you talked about, I am always willing to risk the number of what the numbers are saying because I know that, and it might not be successful right away, but it's in time if you just keep, keep at it and like, to your point, finding a platform that can invite people to say, Oh, I would love to talk about that.
Speaker 2:
46:24
Um, you're going to be in a great, great place and you might even find some value that can't be recognized by a number, which is a little frightening. Um, but it, it's, I think if you're willing to roll those that dice, I think you're going to be in a situation where you're going to know you're doing something right and it's going to have a collateral impact in a very good way. Um, it's, it's just you're going to have to be conscious enough just to draw the map those parallels in order to argue a little bit later on, especially when you're talking to leadership. Um, which brings us to another very unfortunate question, uh, that I wanted to talk to you about, which is I, I, I'll be at these events and I talk to folks that are interested in, you know, what we do and what others do.
Speaker 2:
47:14
And then why I always like to say, why are you here? You know, what, what brought you to this conference? Um, I'm more interested in that than anything else quite frankly, because here you are, you know, you're, you, you've stepped away from the office and you want to learn. And that's what I hear most people just want to learn. But I get this overwhelming constant trend of feeling devalued there. Um, they might, they might find it really hard to put a number to what makes them successful. Um, and like to your point, we live in a numbers world, numbers, numbers, numbers, it's all about that bottom line. It's always about bringing in the ROI. It's always about finding success. Um, I personally don't think that there is a single number, uh, for comms. Um, I, I did a podcast with our COO and Co founder about metrics and the, his answer is like, you know, surprise, there is no number, but there, there are certainly things that you can look at, et Cetera, but this devalued this feeling that you're not a w e a feeling of lack of worth. So what for you, if that was a very long, uh, preface, I apologize. Uh, but you know, what do you think is the best strategy to under uncover? What is it that leadership really wants from you?
Speaker 1:
48:34
It's, it's a big question. Uh, if anyone is feeling devalued and a bit sort of deflated, um, first thing I'll say to you, you're not alone. Um, a lot of internal comms park departments are very small. Sometimes there's literally one person. Um, there's, it's a hard in a, a fairly sort of competitive fast paced world to admit that you need help but go and seek some help, find a mentor. Um, find someone you can join forces with other communicators, join a professional body. Um, I'm just about to host a session of wine and cheese evenings for senior communicators, but they can come and talk in a safe environment and share their troubles. Maybe float a few good ideas as well. So seek out help from outside the organization if you are feeling that way because you do need to be fairly resilient in these, in these situations.
Speaker 1:
49:26
So, um, if you are feeling that way, you're not alone. I think that's the first thing. First thing to say. How do you then prove your value? Um, I agree with the comment you made about your previous guests. There's no magic number. I'd love to say you at 63.7. Um, and if it was that, that would be great, wouldn't it? Cause if you were sort of 62 you'd be almost there and we could relax. It's not like that. But one thing I would say is if you're in a situation where you feel a lot of pressure to prove your worth from senior leaders and they're saying, where's the metrics? Where's the return on investment? Where's my dashboard? Just pause for a moment because it might be that they trued, you might be working for the wrong organization and the wrong leaders because you know, no one asks us what the return is on a handshake.
Speaker 1:
50:19
We kind of know that in business looking someone in the eye and you know, giving them a firm handshake when you first meet them for the first time is part just doing sensible, good business. And if someone came up to you and said, I'd like to know the return on that too. Just you, you think they are truly mad. So if you are being asked too many questions, I always say organizations get the communicators they deserve. But if you are asked being honest, too many questions to prove your return on investment, then you might just be in the wrong organization and they may not just have woken up yet to what great comms is all about. But there's a few basic rules. If we, if we're going to do measurement and all of this, I think your listeners will know, but I would just go over the basics for anyone who's literally just stepped into a console.
Speaker 1:
51:04
So there's a big difference between measuring outcomes and outputs. We were great at measuring outputs, you know, when, how often, how many dwell times, how many downloads? Great. And quite frankly, if you start there, that's not a bad place to start. If you can move to outcomes out impact, you know, did anyone think or do differently as a result? Great. That is not easy though. So take something simple like um, health and safety campaign. So you work in a high risk environment, there's industrial injuries and you're trying to get them down. You launch a big campaign, so you've got the benchmark score of industrial accidents before they happened, and then you've got the score afterwards and you go, oh my goodness me, it's gone down. Fantastic. My campaign was amazing. Maybe maybe that's the root cause analysis of that decrease, but maybe it's not because maybe something else happened that caused that to go down as well.
Speaker 1:
51:55
So, um, it isn't easy. I'm not going to pretend all this measurement is easy. I think there's a few basic things that you could measure. Like for example, asking people, you know, uh, about credibility, whether they think what you're saying is, do you know, is it trustworthy? Is it useful to what they do day to day? Um, and as it credible, that's not a bad place to start. There's some great resources online. People probably know about the AMEX website, but they've just launched their sort of 2.0 version of the Barcelona principles. It's all over Google. It's very easy to find and I'm really delighted to see there's qualitative research in there as part of the score, which for me is, is really important. Um, don't overcomplicate. Measurement I think, um, starts at the beginning. Your organization's trying to achieve something, whether it's a profit or not for profit organization, it's trying to achieve something, get that articulated and it might be your job to actually articulate it.
Speaker 1:
52:58
Um, think about it as a purpose in terms of not just, well, I want shareholder returns back, but actually why should, you know, Simon Sinek says, why do we get up in the morning and why should anyone care? It's not a bad place to start. And then if that's what your organizations try trying to achieve, how is your organization measuring progress to achieve that goal? Okay, that's going to give you a clue about measurement. And then how can you kind of find measurement, a measurement metric around calls that's ally to that business goal. Remembering calms. You are not trying to fix a communications problem, you're trying to fix a business problem. The communication comes after the business problem. So what's your business trying to achieve? How is, how's Your Business measuring success? And that will give you a really big clue in how you might want to set up a KPI that fits to what your business is trying to achieve. I do it that way round. And then when you go and see your senior leader, you start with, this is what you guys are trying to achieve. This is how you're doing at the moment. And by the way, this is how measured, this is how communications is helping you. So it's an absolutely aligned strategy.
Speaker 2:
54:09
Mm. Ah, yes. Um, extremely.
Speaker 1:
54:15
Okay.
Speaker 2:
54:15
Powerful message right there. And it's, I think what we're, where, if I was to summarize a piece of what you were talking about is if you're feeling that struggle, if you're feeling that deep value, if you're looking for something to, to measure yourself against, don't forget that if everything was working very smoothly and everyone in the organization knew exactly what they were supposed to do, they probably wouldn't need your role. So they hired you because they need something to be fixed or something to be better. So don't forget that. And so remember that on that day one, you're there for purpose with a purpose. And so that all the things you talked about doing the research on the organization, I finding those folks within the company that can share their story, find that onto authenticity to help move that message towards whatever the cultural transformation, whatever the, uh, the excitement, the vision or whatever it may be, that that leadership is really desperately wanting you to uncover.
Speaker 2:
55:21
And then finding those moments like the, the lunch menu and things of that nature. Um, but talking with people and finding the father within the, uh, the hostile situation, all t, all of that, all of that is, is what is what is being looked at and, and for, and I think it's, it's, you can sigh a little bit of relief knowing that they're, there is purpose behind the hire. Um, and it's, it's in looking at that, but the three-step strategy you just put together there in terms of really trying to uncover how am I going to measure my success. Uh, and then you even touched on safety, which I think is probably the hardest, but the easiest to comprehend message on measurements, right. And the outputs and the outcomes. Yes. Uh, okay, great. I did x and then now everything's great. Take a step back.
Speaker 2:
56:17
I'm sure it was a country contributing factor, but uh, you know, they're, they're, they're, it's not as cut and dry as that. Yeah. Which makes it hard, which is why the dashboard doesn't exist, which is why it's not a single number. Uh, there are multiple, I, I think an easy image is a, a, a Web, uh, in terms of all the different things that you're doing that com that will then create other webs in terms of a, a comps. Um, this has been really good. I have, I have two more questions. And so the next question is, all right, all the, we just talked about all the great things that you can be doing. What about, what's the worst thing you could possibly do? What is the biggest mistake or misdirection that, that the comms community makes?
Speaker 1:
57:06
Okay. I'm going to be really controversial here. I'm going to say we just don't, the biggest problem is we don't make enough mistakes. I think we are far too conservative in general. Um, it amuses me that, you know, externally marketing, you know, you see lots of people, oh, we'll give it a go. If it doesn't work, we can change it. It's no problem. We've got to stand out from the crowd. It's a very noisy world out there. You know, let's do this really weird and wacky thing and you know, we'll just see what happens internally. We need it signed off by 63 committees and 75 senior stakeholders. And by the time it's gone through that, it's too late. Everyone already knew about it and they're not reading it anyway. Um, so I would say we live in an era where it's absolutely okay to do sort of a test and learn scenario, ab testing, try things out, try things out.
Speaker 1:
57:57
What have you got to fear in my podcast? I always ask at the end, what would you do? Um, you know, what would you do if you knew for certain you couldn't fail? So kind of put the failure thing to one side because I want you to dream big and I want you to be really ambitious. The other thing about failure is if you look back in your own life and you think about things that were just went, disasters you wrong. And certainly in a business setting, I can pick a few things we've done. Ab Balea wasn't necessarily the opposite of success and we didn't succeed, but failure got us one step closer to success because we learned what didn't work and now we know, we know that it didn't work. So we're going to try this. So we've actually got one step closer. Although failure that time didn't feel great.
Speaker 1:
58:44
So I would say, yeah, I would say just try more things and be willing to make a few mistakes. Know that those mistakes are going to make great dinner party stories later on down the line. Um, and you're gonna learn a lot from them and some things are actually gonna work and you're going to step out of your natural comfort zone and grow. Um, the thing to remember in comms is that the bigger the boulder the story, the more attention it gets. So just, you know, just, just, yeah, dream big is what I would say.
Speaker 2:
59:18
I love that. I, yeah, I think that's, it's make mistakes. Mistakes are awesome. I think that's, uh, it's just, it's so you can never, you know, it's, you're going to, there's going to be failure in what you do no matter what. So you might as well at least be okay with it and more changes.
Speaker 1:
59:41
Yeah. You can mitigate, you can miss a capability. So you can do pilots, you can do tests. Um, so they're localized failures if it all does go wrong. Um, so there's ways of mitigating that to a degree. Um, but in, and you can certainly do this thing. And in fact, my last, um, the, the leader that I was interviewing last time, so for discussion, you know, you can send something around and say this is what we're proposing and get it all out there and all those ideas so that if anyone does go, oh my goodness me, you've totally forgot this thing that's happening over there that's going to really derail that you find out. But in general, I think, yeah, it gives things a go. Um, yeah,
Speaker 2:
60:19
I love the pilot idea. I think especially with organizations, you know, you could be dealing with like tens of thousands of people. I'm working with a small pocket within that community to just try something different. Get some, there's your numbers, you get some measurement, you know, figure out, and then you bring that idea, that grand idea and say, here, look, I can prove to you that it works. Look at our, our, our open rate was 20%. This got 40, 50, 60%. People were responding, they were engaged. I mean, is this why you hired me? Let's try this. Let's give it a go. Uh, I think that's wonderful. Uh, Katie, this has been such a good conversation. My last and final question. This is my, I like it. I like asking everybody this question cause I'm always curious about you. Um, what are you working on that is fun today that you want to talk about?
Speaker 1:
61:10
Right. Yeah, we do have a big challenge on our hands. So, um, we were approached by one of the world's busiest apples to work out how to communicate with around 78,000 people that don't work directly for the organization but nevertheless deliver the customer experience. And the reason I raise it is that I think this plays into a trend we're seeing in the economy suddenly in the UK. And I'm, I'm guessing maybe worldwide, which is what I'm putting in the GIG economy. But I think, and I think we have about a million people. I'm sure it's more that we work in the GIG economy in UK. I'm sure in the future I see teams are going to have to grapple with this challenge of people that are not traditional employees, but they nevertheless are crucial in delivering the client, the customer experience. Um, so that's what we wrapped in with at the moment.
Speaker 1:
62:01
It does involve a lot of research. So it involves a lot of people where the pattern paper paper going around pattern pan going around the terminals that nights during the day, early mornings and asking lots of questions of people that call this airport their home actually, which is quite interesting. Um, listening to what matters to them, the language that they're using. Lou even watching the body language when they talk about where they work is quite interesting. How open and how free are they with their opinions. That tells you quite a lot. So we're discovering there is a reason this airport is one of the most popular in the world, but it's absolutely a fascinating challenge and I think will probably resonate with a few people that have got those kinds of new types of workers in their workforce.
Speaker 2:
62:45
Excellent. That is very fun and very interesting. Um, Katie, thank you again for your time. Um, you mentioned a whole slew of books and different pieces. I'm going to make sure all of that era in the show notes so people can access it. And of course your podcast. Cause if you are listening to this and you haven't listened to the internal cause podcast, it is really, really good. So please, please, please check it out. Um, and Katie, thank you so much for your time today.
Speaker 1:
63:11
It's an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me on.
Speaker 2:
63:16
That's it. Um, that's perfect. I'll just hit the stop button.
Speaker 1:
63:21
Okay.
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