How IC it

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

Archive for the tag “internal communication”

The obligatory new year, new job post

‘New year, new job’ may be a tired recruitment cliché but on the first working day of 2016, it will be a reality for me. It’s been great to meet up with my new boss ahead of my first day and my brain is already whirring with ideas for the first priorities we discussed over lunch. (Lunch on the new boss is a very civilised way to start a new job and I heartily recommend it to anyone!)

I know at least one of my Twitter network is also off to a new role so it struck me that today is a good day to share tips and ideas for surviving, delivering and, of course, enjoying the first 100 days.

These are extended thoughts from the points I contributed to a hand little guide produced by Gatehouse Group. The full version includes tips from other comms pros and you can download it here.

1. Don’t neglect your LAST 100 days in the old job. How you leave is as important as how you arrive.

2. Go on tour: get out and about to the frontline – call listening, the shop floor, the factory canteen – and drink a lot of coffee with people doing real jobs in the real world.

3. Listen, absorb, digest: learn what recent sources of insight are saying, from the satisfaction survey to channel metrics.

4. Beware red deckchairs: just because something worked well at your old place doesn’t mean it’s right for the new one. Strike the words “When I was at…” from your vocabulary.

5. Look for quick wins: where can you get involved with a project and deliver results? And there’s nothing wrong with keeping a list of your achievements in your first three months. You’ll soon forget them as the days begin to fly by and you get down in the detail.

6. Mind the gap: talk to the CEO, the Board, your senior stakeholders and your team to see what they think your role is there to do.

7. Start close to home: The most useful question I asked my virtual team was “What do you want from my role – and what’s the WORST thing I could do?”

8.  Find a compass: someone who can help you navigate the structure and counsel you on how things will land. In my past that has sometimes been my boss, but it’s also been a switched-on HR Business Partner and a team leader in a customer contact centre who I met in my second week.

9.  Get to know the real power-holders: the directors’ PAs, the Facilities teams, all important to have on side as you’ll be calling on their support. Ditto if you work somewhere with in-house design or printing facilities. Take them a tin of biscuits and go and learn how their set-up works and what they can offer.

10.  Wear an awesome frock. Never underestimate the power of sartorial armour / confidence trickery.

Best of luck if you’re starting or seeking your next internal comms role in 2016! And if you’re looking for ways to be extra awesome in your existing job, take a look back at my New Year’s Resolutions for comms folk.

Coming next week: Budget cuts – when the axeman cometh

Does your new financial year bring a cut to your internal comms budget? Don’t panic! Check my blog next week for tips on how to stay effective when the April axeman cometh.

If you’ve got questions or tips to share with fellow comms pros, tweet me @how_IC_it and I’ll include them in next week’s blog post.

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?

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