Internal comms leading storytelling increases engagement

Facilitator

Join host Sheelagh Caygill as she explores the obvious - and less obvious - trends and influences in communications, PR, and marketing. Also explored are writing and upping your game as a creator of prose. In this essential listen, she interviews senior comms pros and thought leaders to reveal insights you can incorporate into your work.

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The role of internal communications

The role of an internal communications team varies greatly from business to business. 

But Ben Baker, an employee engagement specialist based near Vancouver, believes that every internal communications team shares one important task –  disseminating an organization’s narrative, and making sure that employees understand it.

Says Ben: “This is everyone’s job. Is not a job title. It really needs to start with how the culture of the organization evolves.”

For me, internal communication is getting everybody to understand who you are as a company, what you do, why you do it, where you came from, who do you serve, what are the things that make you different from your competitors, and where are you going as a company. 

Ben Baker

To Ben, that’s the essence of internal communication. It’s getting rid of pithy vision statements and instead creating a story that everyone can recall so that it becomes part of the fabric of the organization.

What’s the CEO’s vision?

“In most organizations there is a huge disconnect between what the CEO wants to achieve and what the organization understands,” he states.

“You need to ask a lot of questions to get this in place – Who are you? Who are your customers? What do you understand?” says Ben. “Every department tells a different story, and that’s the first place we see where everyone has a different story about where you’re at and where you are going.”

Where are we going and how will we get there?

Ben says that his goal when he works with an organization is to ensure that there is a visionary CEO. If you have a visionary CEO who realizes where they want to take the company and what they want to achieve, it’s much easier getting their message out there. Included in the messaging should be where they see pitfalls, challenges, along with the next generation of customers.

Working with the c-suite, internal communications needs to use its skills to make the message human, giving it a personal factor. They then plan effective distribution of the story. And internal comms should ensure that it’s part of the onboarding for every new employee. 

The most underdeveloped part of any organization is onboarding. Onboarding can be as horrible as filling out a few forms and getting new business cards and then it’s ‘We’ll see you later’.

Ben Baker

“You are doing your employees nothing but a disservice. Here’s a scary number. Every employee that you lose costs you $100,000 to replace,” notes Ben.

“We collectively spend millions of dollars in recruitment and hiring, but nothing in terms of onboarding employees, training, or bringing them into the culture and training, making sure that they have mentors, or having great managers,” he says. “This is where internal comms needs to be. In fact, I’m a big believer in getting rid of the word manager and calling them frontline leaders.”

Managers as keepers of the brand

Ben explains that frontline leaders need to be the keepers of the brand story in their department. When everyone understands the story, they can ask why when an organization does things that aren’t related to the brand story. Is it just shiny object syndrome? If a new initiative isn/t aligned with a company’s narrative, people should be able to raise questions and get the focus back onto the organization’s purpose.

Ben isn’t necessarily opposed to mission and vision statements, but says that most people don’t remember them. 

A story is a format we understand

“Pithy words and statements – they need to be amalgamated into a language that someone can internalize. And a story does that. People have been telling stories for thousands of years. It evolves. But the basic tenet of the story is there. And because of that it is easy to to retell.

With a vision statement: “If you have six exact words that people have to remember, most will get a few, but few get six. So it’s a matter of creating something that people will internalize and something people will believe in,” explains Ben. 

“If it is truly happening, then that’s when the story becomes propagated and everybody remembers and retells the story.”

Find Ben Baker at Your Brand Marketing or Linkedin.

Need a tech management consultant?

Do you need a technology management consultant? Kevin McCall has extensive hands-on and leadership experience across diverse industries and organizations. Kevin can be reached at Kef.ca. He’s also one of this week’s episode sponsors.

Like what you read and hear? Consider supporting our podcast development at buymeacoffee.com. Thanks to our latest supporter, Aaron Sherle, and to my supporters on Patreon.

Like what you read and hear? Consider supporting our podcast development at buymeacoffee.com. Thanks to our latest supporters, Cleidi Hearn from Ireland, Aaron Sherle from Arizona, U.S.

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