It’s an interesting point that in so many cases once a manager ‘sees the light’ and realises that communicating with internal stakeholders is central to the success of their work, they seem to think that’s enough.
“We’ve ticked the internal communications box, job’s done”
Well, no, not quite….
As a professional communicator, I believe that part of my role working with a project team is to listen to what they’re telling me and ask the pertinent questions they often can’t even see are there. So, for example, they might tell me how much easier a system will make the lives of people who work in the Finance department. ‘And how will it help me if I work in HR?’ I ask – cue a range of facial expressions along the lines of ‘I don’t know’, ‘I hadn’t thought of that’, ‘It won’t’.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes and ears and a new perspective is just what’s needed. If they go away and find me an answer, then their project is improved, as well as my communications.
But in some cases, the expectation can be that internal communications will make everything alright. Bad decisions are still bad decisions, however effectively they are communicated. If a project team is not well organised, and their fundamental ways of working are problematic, there is only so much that can be done with the communications.
Similarly, if there are problems with timing, communication can’t put that right. No matter how beautifully crafted and engaging an e-mail is, if it arrives the day before you want your audience to act, don’t be surprised if they don’t get on board straight away. They probably need more time to process the information, and they might have been blown off course by reacting to your lack of awareness of their world and time pressures. (Of course, they probably lack awareness of your world and your time pressures, but that’s another story!)
Internal communications is many things – vital, culture-changing, worthwhile etc etc – but a magic bullet it is not!
Until next time