I was on the expert(?) panel at the CIPR Inside event last night at the very nice Soho offices of Hill & Knowlton. The event was about leadership communications and an interesting debate ensued. I won’t attempt to post notes here covering the whole event, as Scott McKenzie of H&K took copious notes and will probably publish them somewhere at some point …
I thought I’d share some of my own deliberations on the subject as I can just about remember them!
The original question the panel was asked was: What do leaders want from their internal communications people?
My immediate response was: relationship counselling (they might not know they want it, but they definitely need it!)
Here’s why … if you accept that internal comms is about building and managing the relationship between the management and employees of an organisation, then the discipline itself is really macro relationship counselling.
I think leaders want their people to trust them, respect them, be loyal to them, and be inspired and enthused into action by them. This will only happen if leaders have a healthy relationship with the people concerned. Leaders who don’t have this kind of relationship will find that, while they might have power, they’ll have no influence … the worst kind of leadership imaginable.
To help create and maintain relationships you need to REALLY understand human nature … the best way to understand what makes people tick, is to find out what makes you tick first. One way to do this, is to have some therapy!
So, my top tip for the best training available for internal comms people is six month’s psychotherapy! 🙂
As an aside, given what I’ve said above, I personally think employee relations better describes the discipline than employee communications.