How IC it

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

Archive for the tag “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?

Looking for an internal comms qualification in 2014?

While you’re planning for your end-of-year review, it’s also time to give some thought to 2014’s personal development plan. For me last year, that meant formalising my experience with a ‘proper piece of paper’ – it was time to get qualified.

I chose the Advanced Diploma from the Institute of Internal Communication and I’m pleased (and more than a little relieved) to have passed with distinction. The Advanced Diploma is one of four tiers of accreditation offered by the IoIC depending on where you are in your career.

I’m an IoIC board director and enthusiastic supporter of all its training but, in the interests of impartiality, other qualifications are available! There’s a great round-up here from Kevin Ruck, a founding director of PR Academy.

As well as my newly minted IoIC Advanced Diploma, I completed Melcrum’s Black Belt programme back in 2008. My team has also drawn on elements of the ‘bitesize’ learning formerly provided by Gatehouse Group and which is now neatly rolled-up into the ‘Accelerate’ package offered jointly by Gatehouse and the IoIC.

There’s no doubt that there’s plenty out there, whether you’re looking for a formal qualification or a workshop on a specific tactical issue from change to web editing.

So where do you start and how do you know what your PDP should focus on?

I’m a great fan of the competency framework developed by Sue Dewhurst and Liam Fitzpatrick via Competent Communicators and the one from the IoIC. Personally I use a hybrid of the two which I’ve tweaked to suit my own circumstances. I’ve carried a paper copy around from role to role – old skool – and admit that I take great satisfaction in highlighting things as I feel I’ve achieved them!

If you work in government comms, there’s a professional competency framework just for you from the Government Communication Network.

So go on – spend the weekend in the company of some of these resources and take your best ever development plan to that annual review.

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