Six months in as an All Things IC Communication Consultant

This week marks six months since I joined All Things IC in April 2022, along with fellow Communication Consultant Caroline Cubbon-King.

I remember at the time feeling that making a move from in-house to consultancy was a big step, but now I’m settled in, and with the fantastic support of Team Teal, I’m enjoying every day.

As you might expect, it’s been a stretch in terms of my professional development; I’m learning something new every week. Whether it’s helping a client overcome a particular challenge, interpreting insights from listening sessions or building a team day for a client at the All Things IC Hub, there has been no shortage of learning opportunities.

Photo of Dan Holden with the blog article title 'Six months in as a Communication Consultant'

So, what have I learnt over the last six months?

Look at the bigger picture

I remember Rachel saying to me early on that it’s a privilege for us to be working with our clients and for them to allow us to come into their organisations and ‘lift the lid’ to see what’s happening inside the workplace.

This is so true. I’ve been fortunate to work on some audits with wonderful clients. It is a privilege to speak with their colleagues about what is and isn’t working with their internal communication approach.

During those early listening sessions, I felt compelled to start jumping to solutions, especially the quick wins that could be done. However, the true value comes from stepping back and listening to what is and isn’t said. I know from working in-house there isn’t always the time to have the thinking space to look at the bigger picture.

Stepping back helps me to identify the root cause behind some of the challenges organisations face.

Yes, there might still be some quick wins, but in most cases, another solution will significantly impact in-house teams in the longer term.

Be kinder to myself 

I worried whether clients would expect more from my first audit report or if there were enough recommendations. Had I done enough content to deliver a full day of training? In all the cases, the answer was yes, and I gave myself unnecessary pressure.

Working as part of a small team, we all look out for each other at All Things IC, and we’re just a Teams message or phone call away from helping each other.

When I’m working on something new, rather than waiting until the end to share, I share my thoughts as I go.

This helps not only give me a sense check but also stops me from doing too much. If a client has invested in one day of my time because I enjoy the work we do, it can be tempting to end up doing two or three days instead, then impacting on other work.


Dan Holden teaching in the All Things IC Hub

Dan teaching in the All Things IC Hub

Plan for the unplanned

When I received my first client brief and agreed on the timeline, I made sure to put everything in my calendar, including preparation time and follow-up time for writing notes.

I soon discovered that things don’t always run to plan. Whether that’s the need for the client changes or something urgent means their team need to move their attention temporarily, there can be many dependencies that are outside of my control.

The key for me has been ensuring I’m communicating effectively with my clients and the All Things IC team.

We know timelines change, so keeping each other in the loop can help each other if we have some last-minute capacity or focus on some of our own business development projects.

I keep my Fridays clear of client calls, so I know I have a day each week to focus on projects such as developing new Masterclass content, or if something urgent does come in, I have space in the diary to move a few things about.

As a team, we’re respectful of each other’s time, knowing our individual working patterns and giving ourselves protected time to focus on crucial work without interruptions.

Revaluate my Continued Professional Development (CPD)

I’ve been an advocate of CPD for many years, not just logging points/hours but having a rolling two-year CPD plan. Before joining All Things IC, the activities within it were more tactical, such as completing a one-day course or delivering a project in the workplace. I had some longer-term goals, such as becoming Chartered, but not many.

With the support of Rachel, I’ve had the chance to think differently about my development, especially as my work now spans consultancy, training and mentoring. Through our weekly one-to-one calls and talking out loud about projects and learnings, I’m starting a Coaching qualification in November 2022.

Supported by All Things IC, this course will be a blend of theory and, importantly, practical learning. Many conversations I’ve had with clients are often about listening and trying to unpick the challenges, barriers and business problems they’re trying to solve.

Whilst I’ve been a mentor for the past 18 months with the Institute of Internal Communication, coaching is something I’ve never done any form of training in. Throughout the course, I’ll keep you posted via the All Things IC blog.

Post author: Dan Holden

First published on the All Things IC blog 24 October 2022.

How to be a Comms Consultant – Exploration

Perhaps you’re in-house and enjoying your role, or your role has been put at risk and you are thinking about what your next steps might be or don’t know what to do next. If you are thinking about your next career move and contemplating becoming a Comms Consultant or freelancer, we can help. Our How to be a Comms Consultant – Exploration is an Online Masterclass.

If the outcome of completing the Masterclass is you decide being a Consultant isn’t for you, that’s totally ok, we always say that at the start of our in-person sessions. It’s a personal choice and one that only you can make. The aim of this course is to guide you through the choices so you can draw your own conclusions and know what feels right for your career.

Message from Rachel

Thank you Dan for sharing your reflections on the past six months. It has flown by! It’s a pleasure to welcome you and Caroline to Team Teal.

Dan is teaching face-to-face Masterclasses in the All Things IC Hub in London over the next few months and you are invited to join him.

Our Monthly Masterclasses are an opportunity to learn about internal communication and build your network. You’ll boost your skills, knowledge and confidence.

Future dates are:

Measurement Masterclass with Dan Holden

Post author: Dan Holden.

First published on the All Things IC blog 24 October 2022.


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