Monday, 5 August 2019

Changing times should mean a changing role

There continues to be plenty of discussion around the changing role of the internal communicator. A particular seam of debate is the impact of rising peer-to-peer collaboration, enabled by tools such as those found in Office365.

The debate centres on whether the rise of such tools, and the resultant increase in peer-to-peer communication, make internal communication - in its ‘traditional’ form - redundant. The implication being that, if employees can speak directly to each other, why would they need communication from the company?

Sweeping past the simplifications (and generalisations) involved in this line of argument, I’d take issue with anyone who feels that a company no longer needs to share information or build dialogue with its employees.  To align discussions with business goals, peer-to-peer interaction and collaboration needs context. Any company should be providing that context through proactive and regular engagement with employees around purpose, vision, strategy and values. it should also be sharing and inspiring discussion around points of progress, ideas, and things that have gone well – or not so well – to help its global team pursue shared goals.

As a grandee of the field once said to me, informed discussion is likely to provide far more beneficial: for both employer and employees.

That said, our role as internal communicators does need to change if we are to help our organisations harness the opportunities that more peer-to-peer communication can offer. As professionals, all of us have embraced roles with many elements for many years. We have to be adept at flitting between those different facets, from strategic advice to event organisation, writing to content curation.

We now need to add another element: sparking and sustaining interaction.

We can help our organisations understand how to nurture a culture of greater connectivity and collaboration, using relevant tools and platforms, within the context of company goals. We can place and prize peer-to-peer interaction at the heart of a broader strategy to embed ‘common purpose’.

In essence, rather than being replaced by this type of peer-to-per interaction, internal communication could have a chance to add even greater value.

This is a tremendous opportunity, if not an imperative, for every internal communicator. Our role has always evolved. This is the latest development. 

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