As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, and seeing as I enjoy reading the thoughts of other professional communicators and learning from them, I thought I would bring you another guest writer in the hope that you will too. A couple of weeks ago I opened the invitation up to other comms professionals to write an article for Diary of an internal communicator and have been really pleased with the response. See the foot of this article for how to get in touch with me if you’d like to share your views.

Today’s author is Judith H. Jones, who I recently came across via Twitter (you can find her @redjudy). Judith is from New York City and is executive director of employee communications for The New York Times Company, where she partners with newsroom and business leaders and leads change communication efforts. She is also an adjunct faculty member of N.Y.U., and teaches courses in writing and social media to future leaders in public relations and corporate communications. Her philosophy is simple: Internal communication is the vital ingredient that connects people, communities and organisations for success and I’m delighted that she has penned her thoughts here for you.

Please do share your feedback with her using the comment function at the foot of the page, Rachel. Over to you Judith…

Internal Communication in the Chain
Recently, I was reading an excerpt from a 2008 Journal of Organizational Behavior article about positive organizational behavior and…  Whoa there! Before I continue, I can tell I’ve almost lost you, dear reader. Trust me. I stumbled on this article. I’m not the type that looks up academic periodicals and goes all high hat with a lot of scholarly mumbo jumbo. Usually, I much more interested in kittens and dancing babies, which have an important internal communication function that I’ll prove someday. But until then, let’s get back to the article excerpt.

As I read, the theme that stayed with me was the connection between the organization’s environment and employee psychological states and employee performance. I imagined a workplace culture expressed as a chain of cause and effect, with environment, affect and performance all in a neat row:

Workplace Environment -> Employee Psychological State -> Employee Performance

Then I thought:  Where does internal communication fit in this chain? Does the work contribute to the environment? Or does it have an impact on peoples’ emotions? Or would it be characterized as related to employee performance? And how would it be placed – as a stimulus or a result? Recognizing the work encompasses both products, such as announcements, intranets, etc., which are easy to point to, and practices between people, which are tougher to objectify, where does it all go? And I found myself moving an imaginary internal communication label across the chain, above and below, leaving me unsatisfied wherever it was placed.

So I ask you: As a communications professional, where would you place internal communication? Along the chain or somewhere else? And why?

Many business leaders are uncertain how internal communication fits into the clockwork of the business machine. These leaders have a deep respect for the discipline, yet their definition of the function is narrow and as a result their vision is limited. It’s not their fault; they’ve never considered an alternative. That’s why your point of view will be helpful to all internal communication practitioners. Perhaps your ideas will help to craft a broader and more compelling explanation of internal communication that we may share with our business leaders.

Thank you Judith. If you would like to write for my blog, do get in touch: rach@rachmiller.com

Post author: Judith H. Jones.