I came across an article today on bizcommunity which focused on Internal Communication (IC). It unpicked perceptions and stated the case… “to make internal communication strategic, it needs to be viewed from a business point of view”. You can read the whole post here
From reading the article it struck me that there seems to be a continual battle raging in Internal Communication. Whether we are donning the breastplate of truth, the shield of correct grammar or sword of transparency, it appears there is an ongoing conflict and struggle to ‘win’ – to outline exactly what IC is and isn’t, to reveal the value of communication, demonstrate return on investment, encourage leaders to address issues and much more.
Drawing the battlelines
But just who are we as professional communicators fighting for? You’d hope it would be for employees but from the various articles I regularly come across and conversations I hear, it seems conflict is all around from little squabbles to all-out war, with battlelines drawn across so many places that they’re in danger of tripping people up and clouding the vision of everyone around them.
I view Internal Communication as part of the lifeblood of an organisation, it helps join the dots, encourages strategic focus and aims to create pathways and conversations, guiding through change to ultimately lead to success, engagement and alignment. My point is this – with so many battles seemingly taking place, how will we know when it is over and the profession can just ‘be’?
“Can you do Comms”
There seems to be common arguments laced through various workplaces and sectors. I know when I meet up with other Comms professionals the usual topics of debate include engaging audiences, where IC sits in an organisation, budgets, strategic approach vs tactical application (eg in one recent conversation I was told “I keep being asked to ‘do’ comms and don’t know how to explain everything that I find wrong about that sentence!”) and much more. Is it time we accept that some people will never completely understand the world of corporate comms or would energies be better used in another direction?
One common argument is where Comms sits. In Lyn Smith’s book Effective Internal Communication, she highlights a dissertation (David Ashcroft, 2001), which examined the ‘natural home’ of the IC function. Ashcroft suggests that historically Human Resources and Corporate Communications evolved from their origins as tactical support – Personnel and Public Relations. However he notes that developing into today’s more strategically focused function has “led to a battle for the boardroom”. There’s that word again – battle.
The dark side
At the end of last year, Kevin Ruck wrote a blog post on his predictions for 2011 and ended by saying: “As we go into 2011, my own research will focus on an exploration of the “dark side” of internal communication – the accusation from some quarters that it is merely organisational propaganda that serves the interests of senior managers over employees. I will start from the perspective that most organisations provide objective information and allow some opportunities for dialogue, but often not enough. It will be interesting to see where the research goes – a code of conduct perhaps?” You can see Kevin’s whole post here
What do you think? What’s your experience of the world of Corporate Comms? Is it a battleground or a level playing field? Do get in touch and let me know your thoughts, Rachel.