Thursday, 2 January 2020

Getting back to basics in 2020

As usual, the beginning of a new year has sparked a flood of recommendations or ‘hot topics’ for 2020. I hardly dare look at LinkedIn for fear of seeing another deluge of earnest proclamations and warnings of issues to watch out for.

I shouldn’t really complain: at Sweet Comms, we have engaged in crystal-ball gazing ourselves on several occasions. Normally, because we have felt there are some really important ideas or issues that have not gained the attention they deserve.

This year, however, I think there is one simple requirement, for organisations of all types and sizes: making sure that the basics are in place to nurture a culture of engagement that benefits all involved.

Over the years, as the field of internal communication has become more sophisticated, we’ve all seen plenty of new frameworks, initiatives and tools emerging to accelerate momentum. While these may have opened up new possibilities for enhancing the contribution we make to employee engagement, they have also sparked the risk of an internal comms ‘arms race’, if I can use that phrase, as different participants pile on new idea after new idea to demonstrate a difference or an ‘edge’.

As I have written in these pages before, I think that creates the risk of ‘shiny new toy’ syndrome. And it may also mean we lose sight of the value we should be adding to our organisations and the colleagues who work for them.  

Communicating clear and compelling messages about where the organisation is going, why and how our people fit in. Sharing regular material (in whatever form) on plans, progress and the people who make this possible. Making sure such information is open to all, not a protected commodity.

Making sure everyone in every area (and at all levels) of the organisation has opportunities to raise questions, give feedback and submit ideas. Demonstrating that dialogue is vital and a non-negotiable element of a healthy culture. Celebrating the insight and ideas we gain, to show how ‘common purpose’ makes a practical difference to achieving the organisation’s goals.

Of course, there will still be a host of different options on how to make it all happen. I’m sure new tools and ideas will emerge during 2020. However, any method or mechanism we embrace should always have a clear role in a strategy that will help us deliver the valued expected of and needed from us.

Otherwise, even the most exciting ideas or tools will become akin to a house built on sand.

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