Do you have the right skills to work in internal communication? Today I’ve got news of a brand new profession map from the Institute of Internal Communication.
They say it’s intended to define our purpose as a profession and help businesses and practitioners understand what we do and why we do it.
The map is worth a look and I welcome the move. I’m not surprised by any of the information in there, except the omission of external communication.
I believe to work effectively in internal communication today you need to have good relationships with your external comms colleagues and an understanding of what they do.
As our worlds increasingly collide and combine, I would expect to see some detail in the map relating to it, particularly as many IC pros are responsible for external comms too.
This was a recurring theme at PR Week’s Strategic Internal Communication conference I wrote about a couple of days ago.
What do you think?
IoIC needs your feedback on the map to ensure it’s hitting the mark.
What do you think? Is it useful? Do get in touch with them with any ideas or suggestions to improve it: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can do so whether you’re a member or not.
IoIC @IOICNews say: “The map will support leaders in ensuring their IC functions are fit for purpose and help individuals navigate their professional development pathway in line with today’s challenges.”
January 2017 update: Jen has just recorded an episode of Chuck Gose’s ICology podcast where you can listen to her talking about the map online and below:
Let’s take a look…
The thinking behind it
“Today, internal comms is at the intersection of several disciplines – marketing, PR, HR, organisational strategy, to name a few,” says Jennifer Sproul, IoIC chief executive.
“We are all here to create informed, engaged and connected workforces to drive organisational performance. Ultimately, to deliver on this purpose, we need to develop certain competencies of knowledge, skills and behaviours.”
Let’s take a closer look
IoIC has identified six core professional areas of required skills and knowledge, alongside eight supporting behaviours, which enable practitioners to do their job efficiently and effectively.
“Internal communicators have an immense role to fulfil, one that changes and challenges us on a daily basis,” says Jennifer (pictured). “There is no start and finish or an A-to-B approach. The challenges and application will vary from business to business,– and these will affect how internal communicators apply and prioritise these six areas.”
The profession map will also feature in the new IoIC continuing professional development scheme, coming in spring 2017. Individuals will be able to use the framework to build their personal development plan and demonstrate their learnings.
The six professional areas
Here’s how IoIC describes the professional areas of the map – the sections in grey. These are things we need to know (knowledge) and our expertise (skills).
- Organisational strategy and planning
- People and cultural understanding
- Messaging, storytelling and design
- Tools, technology and digital
- Coaching and facilitating
- Listening and measuring effectiveness.
1. Organisational strategy and planning
Internal communicators must understand the strategy, goals and environment of their business and the role its people play in its success.
They need to know the external forces and challenges that can affect business strategy and people – and build these into communication plans that engage the workforce in working towards the same goal.
Developing commercial and business acumen is becoming increasingly important. It strengthens the role of IC professionals, enabling them to build an influential voice in the organisation, particularly when talking with the leadership team and bridging the gap between the customer voice and the employee voice.
2. People and cultural understanding
People are at the heart of what we do. To communicate to employees, internal communicators need to understand the cultural and psychological factors that influence people at work and how they receive and interpret messages.
Understanding your different audiences’ needs, motivations, environment and perspectives is key to developing effective segmentation strategies and creating messages that will stick.
Internal communicators need to identify models and activities that drive engagement based on their audience’s needs. These can be used effectively to increase morale and should tap into employees’ motivations and help them understand their role in the organisation.
3. Messaging, storytelling and design
IC audiences are varied and complex, and each has its own needs and drivers.
Internal communicators must deliver complex business messages into clear, inspiring and relevant content to ensure they resonate with everyone. Storytelling,compelling journalism and creative design are vital to this.
Often there are tough messages to communicate. Storytelling is an art that often makes internal comms invaluable to a business. IC needs to inspire knowledge sharing, enabling others to communicate more effectively, and work with brand teams where appropriate to produce striking, creative and original materials.
4. Tools, technology and digital
Technology is developing at a rapid pace, with more platforms and metrics than ever before.
Communication is now multi-directional, with the growth of social media and networks. Internal communicators need to understand how to use the right channels and technologies for the right messages and for the right audience. They need to monitor, understand and stay ahead of digital trends in order to make the most of its conversations with employees. We need to work with these digital channels and find what works to foster their use effectively and creatively.
5. Coaching and facilitating
A key role of internal communicators is listening, challenging and influencing – coaching leaders and line managers on how to have two-way dialogue with employees.
As trusted advisers, internal communicators must highlight to leaders their connections with employees.
Often internal communicators are privy to conversations that give them a broader view than anyone else. They are the voice of employees’ needs and wants and the conscience of the organisations; they speak the brutal truth and make sure all voices are heard. In this way, an internal communication team can unlock immense value.
6. Listening and measuring effectiveness
As evidence-based decision-makers, internal communicators must ask the right questions, translating the responses into true insight.
Importantly, they must show employees they have listened and explain what they are doing with their feedback. They must use this evidence to show leaders the positive impact of internal comms to the business.
We also need to understand how to analyse research data and craft this into a meaningful picture. We need to measure the effectiveness in our communication activities to make developments and adjustments, to be sure the messages are being received and interpreted correctly, and to continuously innovate. If we don’t measure, we don’t know how good we are.
Learn about strategic internal communication
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- Strategic Internal Communication (for senior-level practitioners), 23 March 2017
- Internal Communication, 27 April 2017
- Strategic Internal Communication (for senior-level practitioners), 25 May 2017.
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What to you think of the profession map from IoIC? You’re welcome to comment below or find me on Twitter @AllthingsIC.
Post author: Rachel Miller
First published on the All Things IC blog 27 November 2016. Updated March 2017.