A balancing act

This week I was contacted by Comms professional Ajita Jabal Shah who lives in Pune, India, asking if she could write an article for my blog and I was happy to oblige. Ajita has been working as an Associate in Corporate Communications for a multinational corporation for over four years. She has written a humourous Indian-fiction novel – I, me, myself and says her interest lies in writing for her organisation (views here are Ajita’s and not her company’s) as well as working on various forms of poetry, and fiction. Her key area of work being Internal Communications, she says she is looking to share IC best practice with like-minded individuals to “expand her vision”.  If you are a Comms professional and would like to write an article, do get in touch with your ideas – rach@rachmiller.com. Over to you Ajita – her article is featured below.

A balancing act
One of the characteristics of a strong corporate culture for any company or enterprise is its thriving Internal Communications (IC) team, through which the vision, values, principles, goals, ideas, data, etc. of the organisation and its leaders are propagated and discussed. In such a culture, when these important discussions take place, they are invariably clear, consistent, timely, and persuasive.

The importance of good internal communication in building and sustaining a strong corporate culture is not trivial in the least. Why? A single message communicated incorrectly, has potential to lead to a poor choice of action. Poor choice of action can lead to missed opportunity. Missed opportunity creates income loss. These conditions create frustration and breakdown in the organisational cultural dynamics. When attempting to build a strong corporate culture, these are clearly undesirable circumstances.

And the onus of a good internal communications team, rests entirely on the members’ ability to juggle different messages and balance them just right. I always say being in an IC team is like walking a tight-rope. You know what your leaders wish to communicate, you also know what your employees want changed. It is how you mix the two, to create the right cocktail that matters most – without falling off!

All about openness
It is all about communicating the openness and nonhierarchical nature of an organization, as much as it is about ensuring that the employees are heard, their concerns addressed in a timely and appropriate way and that they are happy to be where they are! Having worked as an IC associate for a multinational corporate for over four years now, I might not have amassed the wisdom of the goliaths in this business, but I certainly know that if you lose your focus on the end result to be achieved, all your frilly emails, all your luncheons and all your high teas can go in vain.

You have to look at a scenario from two angles. That of your boss and that of your colleague. What your leaders want, should, must coexist with your employees’ wishes and comforts. When the leaders are the drivers of the organisation, the employees are the essential cogs to the wheels.

In short, Internal Communications is a field of work that takes responsibility for the creation and facilitation of excellent standards for a company’s internal dialogue. When a company employs experts in this area, either as internal staff members or outside consultants, it is a decision to reinforce these:

  • We know that different people have different abilities (both natural and trained), and that those who excel at Communications can improve the output produced by a team
  • We are committed to building a strong corporate culture by investing in better action choices through improved communication.

So what is the critical benchmark that ensures that we have succeeded as an IC team?

When Internal Communications is on track:

  • The executive team is relieved of unnecessary administrative burden
  • Employee satisfaction and retention increases
  • Mid-level management spends more time increasing revenue and profitability
  • Human Resources produce more and costs less
  • Information Technology facilitates more and costs less
  • Marketing ROI increases

Step inside the shoes
Communications should be able to assume the perspective of everyone in the room. One of the necessary aspects of being successful at Marketing is being able to see yourself as the market sees you. In other words, you have to be able to step inside the shoes of your competitors, customers, etc. Now, translate that into internal Communications, and put yourself into the shoes of each ‘stakeholder’ and eyeball the issue from that vantage point.

The bottomline? Don’t lose focus of what is the end goal, and don’t lose sight of what is important.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Ajita. Do you agree with her views? Do you have your own point of view to share? Do leave Ajita a comment to let her know what you think.

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