A question of comms: Tammy L. Nienaber

“Be cautious about joining a company that requires you to play the role of a mouthpiece or corporate positioning or that isn’t aligned with your values.”

This piece of advice is just one of the pearls of wisdom Tammy L. Nienaber, Director of Communications at salon brand Great Clips shared with me recently.

Tammy @tnienaber is the latest professional communicator to sit in my #questionofcomms hot seat. She’s based in Minneapolis and is also President-Elect at the Minnesota chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), over in the US.

I love publishing content that helps professional communicators transform their internal communication and learn from each other.

Would you like to sit in my hot seat? If you’re an in-house practitioner, here are the questions you need to answer.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been working in IC for a day or more than a decade, I know you have insights to share to help others. Be brave. Here are those questions again.

I’ll hand you over to Tammy…

1) When did you know internal communication was what you wanted to do?

After changing my intended major a few times (medical, law), I discovered a degree in mass communication was a thing. Who knew?! The idea of using communication to inform and influence spoke to me.

2) What do you like most about working in this field?

Growing up, I tended to live on the fringe of several “groups.” From this vantage, I came to understand that there is always common ground if you are willing to look for it.

Internal communication roles offer the opportunity to work with people from widely different backgrounds with varying styles and at many levels across an organisation.

While strong networks of like-minded people can be powerful, they can also be a trap leading to complacency and denial. One of the ways communicators add value is by shining the light on the common ground that employees and leaders might otherwise not see.

3) What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?

To be effective within an organisation, you must have a deep knowledge of the business. Everything you do as a communicator either drives the company’s priorities and supports – or, ideally, builds upon – the desired culture. Misaligned communications erode credibility and create confusion.

4) What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a career in comms?

An organisation and leadership team that is comfortable with transparency and seeks diversity in collaboration recognises the importance of internal communications to long-term success.

Be cautious about joining a company that requires you to play the role of a mouthpiece to corporate positioning or that isn’t aligned with your values.

5) What does a typical day or working week look like for you?

As the leader of communications for a billion dollar franchise brand with more than 4,200 locations across North America, I spend about 20% of my time on the road meeting with people from our key audiences, gathering best practices, or researching new communication approaches.

When I’m in town, Mondays begin with an all-team standup meeting where everyone has the chance to share announcements, provide hot project updates, connect on a personal level.

Throughout the week, I spend a significant amount of time in meetings with the business. The meeting formats vary from one-on-ones to recurring project teams to hallway (and bathroom) conversations.

It’s the combination of these interactions that ensure my team and I know what’s happening in the business and where we can add the greatest value.

Of course, our days are also shaped by our news cycle: written and video stories, print and digital publications, web content management, and more.

6) Name a book you think every communicator must read, and why you’ve chosen it

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin – A career in communications is not a 9-5 job. Like most communicators I know, my schedule can be unpredictable and filled with regularly shifting priorities.

Unfortunately, I haven’t always placed my personal health and well-being at the top of those priorities. Better Than Before has helped me reshape habits and eliminate excuses that get in the way of true happiness.

7) What’s the one thing you couldn’t do your job without?

A great team! I am only able to do what I do through the support of my family, coworkers, vendor partners and a strong professional network. These are the people who inspire me with their ideas and passion, who push me to be better by giving me honest feedback, and who offer me new perspectives.

These are also the people who are there to celebrate the wins and to lend a hand when life inevitably deals me a blow.

8) What is the future of internal communication?

Consumers and employees have increasingly higher expectations of business beyond a service, product, or paycheck.

To be successful, an organisation and its leadership team must embrace transparency and seek diversity in collaboration. Internal communication will play a central role in this new reality.

9) Where can people find you online?

Twitter: @tnienaber

Post author: Tammy L. Nienaber.

Thank you Tammy. I’m fascinated by the sound of that book, it arrived this morning and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Get help from professional communicators

Thank you to everyone who has sat in my hot seat this year. I’ve enjoyed reading your views.

Would you like me to continue it during 2018? Do let me know, you can find me on Twitter @AllthingsIC or comment below.

Would you like to sit in my hot seat? If you’re an in-house practitioner, here are the questions you need to answer.

  • A question of commsRachel Miller, Director, All Things IC
  • A question of commsLou Robinson, Global Internal Comms Lead, Costa
  • A question of commsSara Luker, EMEA Content Manager, eBay
  • A question of commsGary Vyse, PR & Engagement Lead at Alternative Futures Group
  • A question of comms: Helen Deverell, Director, Helen Deverell Communications
  • A question of comms:  Katy Gibbins, Head of Internal Communications and Engagement, Department for Culture Media and Sport
  • A question of comms: Shona Sullivan, Communications and Engagement Executive, Capita BBC Audience Services
  • A question of commsKeith Lewis, UK Social Business and Channels Manager for Zurich Insurance
  • A question of commsKerry Sheehan, Head of Communications at North East London NHS Foundation Trust
  • A question of comms: Steven Murgatroyd, Communications and Engagement at River Island.
  • A question of comms: Simon Monger, Internal Communication and Engagement specialist.
  • A question of comms: Emma Rodgers, Head of Communications at Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
  • A question of comms: Gillian McGillGlobal Head of Internal Communications at Aviva.
  • A question of comms: Justine Stevenson, Head of Group Internal Communication at London Stock Exchange Group
  • A question of comms: Ejaz Khan, Independent Change Communication specialist 
  • A question of comms: Alex MaloufCorporate Communications & Reputation Manager for the Arabian Peninsula, Procter & Gamble
  • A question of comms: Dee Ann Adams, Global Internal Communications Manager at Allegion.

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First published on the All Things IC blog 6 November 2017.SaveSaveSaveSave




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