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How brave are internal communicators?

Our new Communicating for Engagement report, based on research conducted with uber engagement, reveals that internal communication practice has improved considerably in many
organisations in the past five years. At the same time many practitioners are keen to improve it even more by focusing on communication that directly supports employee engagement, as set out by MacLeod and Clarke in the Engaging for Success report published in 2009.

However, there are two significant obstacles preventing continuing development in practice:

– Senior managers don’t always appreciate that  internal communication, if practised strategically, will improve employee  engagement

– Though keen in principle to develop practice,  many internal communication practitioners are reluctant to push the boundaries.

As one focus group participant put it: “Internal communications practitioners are not brave enough”. Opening up internal communication to provide employees with more of a voice is going to be very challenging in some organisations. So, quite naturally, internal communicators sometimes back away from going down this path.

This is not to decry the critical importance of keeping employees informed through professional, timely, relevant communication which is what most internal communicators spend most of their time on. It’s just to say that on its own this is never going to shift employee engagement that much.

We’ll be talking to senior managers in 2012 to get their side of the story. In the meantime, how brave are we, as an emerging profession, prepared to be to move practice on to another, more strategic, level?

To read the full report go to

One comment

  • January 13, 2012 1:31 amPosted 5 years ago
    Ken Milloy

    Hi Kevin or Simon (not sure who wrote the post actually)

    A very interesting post but more importantly an extremely critical one for communicators focussed on the internal.

    I have for a long time being trying to decide if communicators are in fact “not brave” (to stay with the topic!) or simply ignorant (in the classic meaning of the word) and therefore blindfolded by the historical training / education teachings we have been raised with.

    The importance of the IC has moved forward strategically for certain over the past 20 years and is nearing a level of acceptance and understanding among many leaders. Unfortunately, as evidenced by your comments about some senior managers not getting the link between communication and engagement (which makes me have to ask: “do they really understand employee engagement?”).

    The shift in demographics combined with technological advancement and the ‘must have the latest release’ adoption mentality of social tools has lead to significant value changes (relationship, connection, collaboration and so on). And in purchasing decisions. And in service expectations. And in…well, you get the point.

    But I have not seen a change in thinking in response to this shift among fellow communicators. Yes, new tools are being used. Unfortunately, they are being used to serve in the same manner as the old tools rather than to aid in the development of business willing, able and ready to succeed in the new world of business that is both here and shifting significantly at he same time (and potentially on a daily basis).

    If braveness is the underlying issue, then there is clear hope – its time to step up and be heard. If a lack of understanding and capacity is the issue, I’d be concerned about the future viability of the company I was working for.

    Hope this makes some sense…again thanks for the great post.


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