Name me a single job that doesn’t list ‘Good communication skills’ as a pre-requisite for employment. I bet you can’t think of a single one. Nor can I for that matter; it wasn’t a trick question. And yet, nothing is ever done to measure how good a communicator someone is once they’re in situ. Imagine then a world where employees and staff are the internal communicators of a company – a world where they’re entrusted to disseminate the important information we as communications professionals hold onto so tightly. It’s not so far from being the case already, albeit in a more informal context (think water cooler, canteen, or stairwell).
If anything, internal or corporate communications is lagging behind. Progressive companies handed over their marketing to their customers, and in some cases, they’ve done it whole-sale. It isn’t particularly new either, Dropbox did it, Uber, and Monzo too. These companies were so confident in their product, they spent very little on customer acquisition, letting their customers introduce their friends and families instead. Monzo in particular has a very sound model of putting you on a waiting list, and offering the chance to be bumped up the queue if your friends sign up too.
Take internal communications then. Instead of crafting perfectly formal emails from executives, the focus would be instead to get the strategy in such sound shape, that employees would do the talking for the company. The second part of this strategy therefore is making sure people have the water cooler. Having an intuitive, and well received platform for employee discussions would enable these conversations to take place. The conversations that take place on here can’t be curated, or polished. The bad stands shoulder to shoulder with the good. Feedback and criticism helps to form the next iteration of the strategy, not seen as dissent or distraction.
And then to measurement. Instead of measuring arbitrary and self-serving statistics like page views or overly general satisfaction surveys, you’d measure the one thing that’s more likely to mean an employee wants to work for a company. Their boss. Measuring people managers on their ability to communicate a compelling and believable vision, helping to open a conversation with their team, and importantly, using their feedback to help shape the next iteration of the strategy.
Products nowadays are agile and iterative. Why then should a company strategy be any different?