Everyone is a communicator, but not everybody can communicate!

When I have a problem with my Laptop, I call IT…when I have a question around project costs I speak to Finance, confused with my pension? Get HR on the blower! Want to communicate something to the rest of the business…I’ll just do that myself!

If you work in Internal Communications, how times have you been through the experience above? It is without doubt my number one frustration!

I’ve never understood the reason why some people take the decision to communicate something themselves without ever consulting the department which is there to help them. As a communicator I pride myself on being able to take a difficult subject matter and write a simple and easy to understand piece of text. However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits an internal communicator (me!) can offer.

Usually our position within the company means we interact with pretty much every department, at all levels. This enables us to get an understanding of the culture of the company, realise the best way to engage an employee and also be able to advise on what are the key points people need to know about. Communications done by the department themselves can be too detailed, contain jargon and lack a consistent style. Resulting in people switching off, not reading, and then not understanding the communication fully.

So, everyone but internal comms is to blame for this then? Wrong! Sometimes, I find the IC function can be it’s own worst enemy. If you’re not being involved in a meeting, then force your way into it. Make sure people realise how much value you can bring to a project. Landing a project is all well and good, but if you don’t engage your colleagues and make it clear how the changes will affect them then the project will more than likely fail in the long run. I like to think that when I’m attending project meetings, where I’m not the lead on the project, I’m representing the rest of the business and making sure what’s being said is going to have the biggest impact and create the biggest buzz.

In reality, I don’t think we’ll every get to a point where IC is thought of immediately when it comes to a project. The reason people think they can communicate is because from an early age we’re given lessons in writing. I remember being in Year 5 at school and doing a project on creative writing. This progressed at high school and then onwards through college and university. At all levels of my education (granted I did English as a degree) I’ve been taught how to write. If I’d then moved into HR or IT why wouldn’t I think that I’m able to write communications? I’ve never been taught how to fix a laptop, or how a pension works (in fact, I still have no idea how one works. As far as I can tell money leaves my wage every month and hopefully at some point I’ll see it again!).

The point is that everyone thinks they can write comms, because they write every day of the week. However, what they don’t do is think about how that writing will be received by the colleague it’s being sent to. In the end that’s the difference between a communicator and those who can communicate!

Do you agree or disagree with the above, let me know by leaving a comment!


About Steven Murgatroyd

Northern Social Media and Comms enthusiast.
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