How to keep going

How are you doing?

How are you really doing?

I’m writing this with my laptop on my knees while two of my children play next to me.

They are meant to be in school, but Covid has reared its head for the third time in my household.

We know the drill. We’ve unfortunately been here before. Childcare is cancelled and my husband and I, who also runs his own business, go into switching mode.

We align our diaries and try to swap between our respective client calls and being with the children, to keep on top of both family and business needs.

I’m thankful to be navigating through this pandemic with him and grateful for our home and how we work.

But it’s the keeping going bit that’s tough isn’t it?

When you work in internal communication, you’re in a super visible role.

We work hard to create a shared understanding and meaning inside organisations. We get to the heart (and head) of what matters, and help it make sense for our people.

The purpose of internal communication isn't telling people what to do, it's to create a shared understanding and a shared meaning, so our employees can align their efforts with the company's goals and purpose.

The need to keep going as an internal communicator

Over the past month I’ve had various calls with clients, mentees and my All Things IC Inner Circle members.

The common thread to these conversations is the need to keep going.

It’s tough when you are the trusted adviser inside your company and trying to hold it together for everyone else.

If you’re feeling like this, please know you’re not alone.

I’ve heard comments like:

  • “I know I should have planned my 2022 internal communication by now, but I don’t have the energy.”
  • “I don’t know how to keep my team motivated as they are all burning out.”
  • “My leaders are looking to me to help them keep going. I don’t know what to say to them.”
  • “The rules keep changing, I can’t keep up with all our different markets and making sure I’m on top of it all.”
  • “I keep seeing information about resilience, which makes me feel like how I’m coping isn’t good enough. But I know it is, I’m trying my best.”
  • “We have been in crisis mode. That adrenaline has now stopped, but the demands from our business haven’t.”
  • “We are not post-pandemic. We can’t see when it will be over. How do we say that internally?”
  • “Do you think I can take some time out of the business without letting my team or leaders down?”
  • “Please can you help me prioritise my work? I can’t see the wood for the trees anymore, I’m too tired.”
  • “How can I build in more time to look after my team? They’ve run out of patience, goodwill and discretionary effort. I can’t ask more of them.”
  • “Please can you help me figure out how my team can work with me? I’ve lost confidence in my ability to lead.”
  • “Rachel please tell me everyone else doesn’t have everything sorted?”

That final point is the most popular conversation.

Here’s the truth. If it feels like you don’t have everything sorted and don’t know how to keep going, you are not alone.

The best advice I can give you is to be honest.

If you are struggling, tell someone. If you need professional help, please ask for it.

Mental health support

If you’re working in-house, you’ll probably have access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). If the professional help you need relates to your mental health, please pick up the phone and contact them.

When I was working in-house for Visa back in 2006 I had a series of counselling sessions via our EAP, which made a world of difference to my mental health. I always publicised the information through our Internal Comms channels, but one day decided to use it myself.

It’s ok to not be ok. Please ask for support.

Today I regularly have counselling to support my mental health, and have worked with various business coaches and mentors over the years to support my professional development.

Further reading: How to look after your mental health at Christmas.

Further reading: The continuation of chaos or time for a fresh start?

Mentoring support

My team and I offer mentoring support for All Things IC’s clients and I also mentor through the Institute of Internal Communication.

Further reading: When it the right time to have a mentor?

If you’re feeling in need of support, please ask for it.

Further reading via the Mental Health Foundation: How to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

Mental Health Foundation

Under the spotlight

I’ve written and spoken many times about the visibility of internal communicators.

Many of All Things IC’s clients didn’t get a chance to have a proper break over the festive season and now feel like they’re running on empty.

We’re at the time of year when leaders look to the Comms team to have a robust plan of action in place for the next 12 months.

If you’re feeling that pressure, I’ve published various resources in recent weeks to help you. They include:

Congratulations to all the Comms pros who have been studying my new Online Masterclass to help you review last year and plan your 2022 internal communication.

There was a high volume of sales over the weekend, which tells me: a) you’re in planning mode, b) you’re seeking help, c) you’re working at the weekend.

Feel free to come and access that course, it’s been designed to support and advise you as you look ahead to the next 12 months and beyond. There are no live lessons and you can learn at your own pace. It’s available today for only £299.

Team licenses are available and you can pay via invoice. Please contact us to find out more.

How to review 2021 and plan 2022

As with all my Online Masterclasses,  it’s available to enrol in immediately. The course is full of bespoke workbooks, videos, quizzes, surveys and text lessons.

I don’t know that I’ve answered my own question in terms of how to keep going.

Being honest about what you’re struggling with and allowing yourself to be vulnerable in your visible role, is important.

I was feeling under pressure this morning when I looked at the week ahead. I was trying to figure out how to be everything I need to be for everyone around me. I allowed myself to be honest, via this Tweet @AllThingsIC.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the reaction. I didn’t send it to provoke a response, but I’m thankful for all the kind words and DMs I’ve been sent by the global Comms community today. Thank you, it really helped.

Thank you also to Team Teal for being wonderful and stepping in to help smooth out this week for me.

Tweet by Rachel Miller

Whatever situation you are in, keep your chin up and go gently.

If that means carving out time for you to read, go for a walk, or as in my case, have a cup of tea in the nice china, do it.

I’m proud of all the work I’ve seen internal communicators do in recent times. Be kind to yourself and please ask for help if you need it.

Thank you for stopping by,

Rachel.

Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 10 January 2022.

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