Conferences are an essential tool for internal communicators and are a great opportunity to join the conversation about the latest hot topics of communication. Here are our three key takeaways from the 2018 IABC Heritage Region Conference:
1. Effective, Measurable, and Relevant Results are the Best Way to Convey the Importance of Internal Comms to Your CEO
In many organizations, communication is seen as an afterthought, and leadership tends to overlook the work of communicators. In a presentation entitled 5 Ways to Show ROI on Your Communication Efforts, Sara Jackson, co-founder of Cyrkle and Internal Comms Pro, and Carla Landon of TriHealth, revealed a plan for how communicators can be seen as making a difference in business:
- See yourself as the educator: pretend your bosses are children, and set out a clear set of steps aimed at an objective that’s simple enough for a child to follow.
- Create a learning environment: set up a an environment where it’s safe to fail and learn from your mistakes.
- Have a lesson plan: bring a lesson plan to show your boss, so you have physical evidence of your work and value to the company.
- Rely on your data and provide context: provide analytics that show your value and provide the necessary context.
- Prioritize and strategize: you can’t do everything, so rather than doing their work for them, help empower people to help themselves.
2. Build a Business Case for Your Role as an Internal Communication Professional with Every Task, Tactic, and Campaign
Our friend Jim Shaffer of the Jim Shaffer Group presented at the IABC Heritage Conference in the session How to Boost the Role and Image of Communication Professionals prescribing a solution for communication pros to learn how to show the value that they bring to their organization, otherwise they cannot justify their role. By building a business case for everything they do, internal communication gurus can show the correlation between their work and business success. Jim Shaffer gave 4 tips for doing just this:
- Manage communications as an integrated system: Rather than just look at the formal channels, manage all of your channels as an integrated system to make a big, business impact.
- Measure what matters to your business: stop measuring things that don’t matter to profits and operations.
- Shift from a cost center to a value creator: change from being in the information distribution business to being in the solutions business
- Build needed competencies: grow your strategic advisor skills, measurement skills, leadership skills, change management skills, and business and financial acumen
3. New and Innovative Strategies are Essential to Engage Employees in the Modern, Digital Workplace
As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, it is critical to stay ahead of the curve. Having the most up-to-date tools to reach your employees is essential in keeping employees informed and more importantly engaged. This is especially important as millennials begin to take over the workplace, reaching them is easiest through the use of their mobile devices.
Although staying connected in the modern workplace does call for the latest communication tools, the only way to get the best work from your employees is to allow people to be fully human.
Lisa Gick, the CEO and Founder of [curious] and Angela Crawford, Dean at the College of Business at Thomas More College, explained this in their session entitled Creating a Communication Vortex: Engaging Conversational Energy to Deliver Possibilities and Innovation from All Employees. They urged employers to build meaningful relationships with their workers beyond just their business personas saying “You must know their humanness.”
Here are two brainstorming and meeting layouts that they shared aimed at engaging more voices to create workplace connections:
- 1-2-4-all: engage everyone simultaneously in the process of generating ideas with a low risk factor
- Tri-pattern: have 3 people sit facing a person with a business problem who has their back to the 3 and the 3 offer suggestions for the business problem – this allows the person to receive feedback without being distracted by reacting to their suggestion