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Internal communication developing fast in Bulgaria

It is fascinating to see how internal communication is developing in Bulgaria since I first went there four years ago. At the internal communication conference run by Apeiron Academy in Sofia last week, there were some very good presentations including MTel (a mobile operator) for example. We even had a presentation from a theatre director who talked about how actors engage their audience.

I was asked to chair the judging for Apeiron’s Grapevine awards and saw some strong examples of practice. It is clear that some Bulgarian organisations appreciate the importance of effective internal communication in changing organisational culture in ways that engage employees and improve performance and service. For example, MTel has set up a series of senior manager master-classes where they share information about their part of the business. This sort of activity is ground-breaking in Bulgaria and I salute the young communication professionals there who are pushing the boundaries.

It reminds me of how internal communication was in the UK back in the 80s. The monthly newsletter was largely a vehicle to profile senior managers. The top team had a private table in the staff restaurant and rarely ventured out of their offices on the 4th floor to talk to people. To give them their due, they did serve Christmas lunch to employees every year. This was a rare example of senior managers understanding that they are there to serve employees rather than the other way round.

Though things have changed a lot in the past 30 years, some things are hard to change. Research in the UK suggests that around half of all employees still don’t feel very well informed. I’m sure this reflects growing expectations from employees. In this media rich era, we now quickly become suspicious when information is not forthcoming.

In a presentation about employee engagement levels in Sofia last week, it was revealed that in focus groups employees cited two things:

1.    They don’t know enough about what is going on

2.    They don’t feel that they have a voice.

This sounds very familiar to me. How come it is so difficult to crack?

My slides from the conference are available here.

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