Back in 2017, I published an article called ‘Who am I?’ by values expert Jackie Le Fèvre.
Today, five-and-a-half years since writing that first piece, Jackie, who is now Dr Le Fèvre after successfully completing her PhD this year, is back.
Here she writes for the All Things IC blog to reflect and pose some questions for you to consider.
You can find her on LinkedIn if you’d like to connect.
I’ll hand you over…
Who am I now?
I ask this as you are highly likely to not be exactly the person as you were a few years ago.
Sure your DNA will be the same, your eye colour likely the same (your hair colour may be not), your name may be the same but what you know, what you have learned and your sense of the world will have shifted.
As long-lived social animals who are wired to connect with others we human beings are beautifully engineered to adapt.
In a lifetime that spans decades we see many things change and so continuously develop both our skills and capabilities.
This ongoing development enables us to handle little things (like yet another reformatting of Microsoft Office) to big things such as living differently under a global pandemic.
Covid-19 cast a long shadow. One of the things research is now showing about its impact is that it challenged and changed the highest priority values of both societies and individuals.
People found themselves reflecting upon what actually mattered most in life.
Studies found (unsurprisingly) for example that ‘health’ became a much greater conscious preoccupation alongside space/time for relaxation and renewal.
How is any of this relevant to internal communicators?
Consider this from Prof Dan Cable of London Business School (June 2022)
“Thinking about death is scary, but it is also extremely qualifying. People are asking themselves what their real values are. Why, when our time is so finite, would anyone want to spend their days doing something that does not align with those values?”
People are drawn to certain types of work in certain organisations because of a (usually unconscious) alignment between what they value and what they sense matters to the organisation.
If that organisation then wants to be able hold those people and maintain or strengthen their affiliation to that work then ensuring all communications uphold, embody and amplify the values that were attractive in the first place is key.
I know there is a potential stumbling block here.
Does your organisation actually have clear, meaningfully articulated core values?
If it does (good job) are those values practiced by leadership and management or turn it the other way up do your internal audiences witness and experience the values being honoured around them?
If the answer to either of those is ‘No’ then work is needed….
If the answer is ‘Yes’ or even ‘Think So,’ then build on it.
Show the meaning, shine a light on the impacts that matter.
Help people feel that they can be who they are now, in this place doing this work, by scaffolding messages on those core values.
If you are asked (told) to get something out that does not appear to align then challenge! Ask ‘how does this uphold our values’ push for reflection and explanation because if you can’t see the connections then it isn’t helping your audiences answer Dan Cable’s implied question ‘is this worth it if there’s no alignment with my values?’
As if all that wasn’t enough….. I suggest you also need to think about who you are now.
Arguably the period 2020 to 2022 ramped up the significance of, and interest in, internal comms as a discipline. This is very much a new world. What is it about this field that chimes with your personal values?
How do you show up and speak up in your authoritative voice to serve your organisation and its people?
Bluntly, what lights your fire and makes your heart sing? Consciously tapping into your contemporary personal priority values will help you rise to the opportunities that lie ahead for IC in 2024 and beyond.
Post author: Dr Jackie Le Fèvre.
Thank you Jackie, what are you taking away from this article? I wonder if it’s made you think.
As this year draws to a close, I’ve learnt more about myself and my family over the past 12 months than I thought possible.
As we’ve navigated neurodivergent diagnoses and relearnt the way we communicate in my household, I’ve started to unlock different answers to questions of self and identity for us all.
It’s definitely a work in progress, and there’s still many hurdles ahead and choices to make. The clarity of accepting and celebrating who my family are now – and who we’ve always been – brings its own freedoms, and causes me to answer the ‘who am I now?’ question with a clearer mind.
First published on the All Things IC blog 18 December 2023.