Internal Comms pros flock to the Simply Summit…

A few weeks ago I wrote about a webinar I took part in that was a teaser for the Simply Summit in London on 26-27 April.

Comms professional Sonsoles Lumbreras attended the summit and here she shares her thoughts with Diary of an internal communicator on what she heard and saw. This is part one and I will publish part two later this week.

Over to you Sonsoles…

Last week I attended the Simply Summit, a full day of interesting talks about best practices in internal communications. Professionals from companies and institutions such as Standard Chartered, Telefónica O2, UBS and the European Commission, as well as communications gurus and experts such as Euan Semple, Steve Crescenzo, Jim Ylisela, and John Smythe were some of the outstanding speakers.

The summit started with John Smythe talking about the ‘Velvet revolution for employee communication’, comparing it to the Arab Spring, and pointing out the changing role of internal communicators. Smythe underlined that effective engagement still requires top down clarity, and said that power sharing is what engages people at work nowadays.

According to Smythe, internal communicators have these roles:

  • Advisor challenging the pattern of top down communication
  • Negotiating with elites where others can contribute to add value and accelerate change by understanding the emotional side of your population
  • Building the engagement challenge into change and operational improvement processes
  • And the most important by far, grafting engagement capability into training, development, performance management and recognition

Organisations don’t tweet, people do
Euan Semple, author of the book ‘Organisations don’t tweet, people do’, gave his insights about the use of social media within companies. Semple highlighted the importance of getting rid of the fears around collaborative tools that can help to improve employee communication in organisations. According to Semple, we should ‘get technology out of the way’, since this can scare many managers who are not comfortable with it, and focus on the content in these tools. Semple said the main reason why companies shouldn’t be reluctant to adopt social media tools is that employees choose where they take part in conversations, and social media is now the place where those conversations are taking place. 

Engaging new employees through social media
Ian Andersen, external communications advisor to the European Commission’s interpretation department, brought some interesting examples of how they are engaging new employees by using social media, as a part of a wider communications campaign. They know that their future employees are present on these platforms so say this is an easy way to engage the right audiences to work for the EC interpretation department.

It was really interesting to see how the European Commission has built communities of linguistics around the world thanks to social media, having reached 8,900 fans on Facebook, 60,000 views on Youtube and more than 30,000 visits per month on European websites. Andersen highlighted that some of the keys for engagement are showing that there are real people listening behind the institution’s social media channels, being approachable and easygoing, responding quickly and helpfully to questions and involving people. 

Engaging employees for information security
Christoph Ruedt, from UBS, gave some interesting tips about how to create a secure culture. Some of the main points that Ruedt highlighted around the best way to create this culture were:

  • making people the solution and not the problem
  • thinking of information security as an ongoing effort
  • present information security an internal part of your business, not an add-on.

He talked about an information security campaign at UBS and how it had two steps: establish importance and inspiring action. With these aims, Ruedt explained how they created informative posters where employees themselves gave advice about good behaviours at work regarding information security.

Tracking engagement
Director of Corporate Communications at Novozymes, Jeppe Glahn, was in charge of giving some guidelines about how to move communications into the heart of the business. In a very engaging talk, Glahn gave some tips to encourage top management teams to value communications at the organisation, such as do not only show managers the solution, but also the need to do something and to not be shy to ask questions to the management team.

Glahn highlighted three communications roles for line managers:

  • Works manager: create coherence and meaning, communicate systematically and be available and listen
  • Change agent: make it clear why the change is needed, explain how it will impact your employers and use regular two-way communication to drive the change.
  • Visionary strategist: paint an attractive picture of the future; motivate your employees to contribute and reward and recognise.
Post author: Sonsoles Lumbreras. Thank you Sonsoles. Look out for part two of her report later this week. If you have any comments on what she has written, feel free to comment below.
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