How IC it

What I like in the world of internal communications and employee engagement.

Archive for the category “Internal communication skills”

Time to get serious on skills

I’ve long been a firm believer in the importance of recognised skills to building credibility for internal comms, as a profession and to us as practitioners. So I’m really proud to be entering 2015 as an IoIC Professional Practitioner

IoIC CPD logoThe Institute of Internal Communication already offers four levels of Accreditation and launched its continuous professional development programme – Excellence – under the ‘Love your career’  banner, appropriately enough on Valentine’s Day 2014.

 

What do you have to do to get CPD certification?  Your job!  I’ve always found the IoIC to be grounded in the real world of the IC practitioner and its CPD scheme is no different.

Pretty much everything you’re already doing as part of your current IC role (or preparing for your next one) will earn you a few points. If you’ve got a personal development plan in place at work, you’re already on the way.

Participants plan their path through CPD and, by gaining 40 points each year, receive annual certification and the right to use the designation ‘IoIC Professional Practitioner’ after their name.

Points are awarded for activities like attending training courses and seminars, involvement with IoIC or other recognised events, mentoring or being mentored, reading and reflecting on comms books, or even taking part in online debates.

So just before Christmas I sat down and logged my activity into the IoIC’s CPD system. As well as uploading pdfs or other links to provide evidence, I had to enter a short description of how the activity supported one of my learning aims. No, stay with me, it really wasn’t that onerous. In a couple of days, stopping and starting, I’d racked up more than my 40 points and hit submit. Off went my workbook to be reviewed. This week I received an email congratulating me on reaching the required standard.

The recognition runs for 12 months so I’ll be doing the same this year; keeping a record of the books I read, events I attend and articles I contribute to be sure that I renew my certificate next year.

Inspired? Hit the books

If you’re interested in recording your own development and becoming an IoIC Professional Practitioner, here are a few books I’m currently enjoying:

From Cascade To Conversation by Katie Macaulay

Employee Engagement by Emma Bridger

IC Trends for 2015 – a free ebook from the IoIC.

Vintage vibe: IC skills we have lost

Last week Headlines published an expert view on what people considered the most important skills in internal comms today. Here’s the Headlines piece and a few views from my Twitter network.

I was then updating my points in the IoIC’s continuous professional development (CPD) scheme and I started thinking about skills I used to rely on and regular tasks that I don’t do any more. Some I’m glad to see the back of, while others feel like important skills that we should be preserving…

Gone and not forgotten

1. Waiting for the courier to bike magazine proofs over to clients because the files were too big to email. Yes, 1996, I’m looking at you.

2. Watching the ISDN line flicker as your publication limped its way to the printer. When the agency I worked for, Trident Communications, pioneered the use of high-res pdfs it changed our lives. You’re welcome.

3. Cromalins and chinagraphs – if you’ve never felt the squeak of a wax pencil on an Iris proof, I envy you your youth. Ask your mother (or Wikipedia). Just imagine your whole desk covered with a single sheet proof for you to check the layout, colours and imposition before the presses roll. No pressure.

4. Character counting. When a designer drops a sheaf of black and white proofs on you with “84 character headline in here two decks” above your perfectly crafted news story and you have to remember that ‘i’ and ‘l’ are half spaces, and write him a headline that is both brilliant and fills the space to his satisfaction.

Don’t fade away

1. Interviewing – when was the last time you sat down and interviewed someone for a story? Or are you more likely to work from someone’s draft or a 70-slide PowerPoint deck because “it’s all in there”? I think interviewing skills are still vital – not only is it the best chance to ask the questions employees will want answered, but rounding off with an open “What else have you been up to lately?’ type question is a great way to uncover further stories.

2. Shorthand. Yes, I know it’s niche. But learning shorthand (in evening classes, from tapes) is one of the best things I’ve done. It’s great for accurate notes during interviewing (see 1 above) and a brilliant ice-breaker when people spot you squiggling away. Now, if someone wants to invent an iPad app that transcribes Pitman 2000 into text, it’d change my life. I’d buy an iPad for a start…

3. Briefing photographers and illustrators – or is it iStock image bank all the way as you try and balance the photo budget? Do you even have a photo budget any more?

What would you say are the most vital skills for today’s internal communicators?

Vive la resolution: what IC can learn from January’s good intentions

The road to hell is paved with unused exercise bikes, low-fat recipe books and nicotine patches. I’ve decided to forego the annual round of personal resolutions and apply some of the most popular ones to my IC career, instead.

1. Shed the flab

Are you carrying a bit of extra weight? A channel that nobody reads? A process that’s slowing you down? Take a cold hard look in the mirror of colleague feedback to see if the audience is telling you “it’s not you, it’s me…” Ask your team and your regular stakeholders what feels smooth and efficient and what’s the sluggish equivalent of a ‘Quality Street baby’ hiding under a Rudolph sweater. How about using your January team meeting to make your own New Year Resolutions that will mean you work smarter?

2. Would like to meet…

If you’re looking for a meaningful relationship in 2014, get networking. Perhaps you want a long-term partnership with a mentor, or you’re after a quick fling on what video can do for IC. Whatever challenge you’re battling with, someone’s been there, done it and will probably be happy to share their story. Follow @theICcrowd on Twitter for an instant pool of potential ‘dates’. And no need to pre-arrange an emergency ‘get me out of here’ call from a friend.

3. Get out more

There’s so much fantastic stuff online for IC pros but nothing beats getting together in the real world. The first half of 2014 has some great events coming up, from full-on conferences to informal coffee mornings. I blogged about the ones that caught my eye here.

4. A better me

New year is an ideal time to think about a bit of self-improvement. You’ve had your annual review with your manager and you’ve got some ideas on which areas to focus on. If getting a formal qualification is one of the things on your PDP, you’ve got a few options. For me, the most suitable was the IoIC’s Advanced Diploma, which I took in 2012. Other qualifications are out there. I link to some on my blog here.

5. Make new friends

As well as networking outside work, think about your relationships within the workplace. Are you and team known to the right people? Do they know you? Buy a few coffees and get to know the people who can help drive engagement. HR, the health and safety guys, Learning & Development, and external comms are obvious ones, and you probably have great links there already. But when was the last time you sat down with someone from Business Development? The people who come up with new products and services? The team responsible for the new starter ‘onboarding’ process? See where there may be new places for people to contribute or to tell their stories. Then matchmake.

What are some of your goals for 2014?

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