Winning the accolade of ‘Change Maker’ at this year’s Institute of Internal Communication Awards of Excellence prompted Katie Macaulay to consider what she has really learned in her 30-year IC career.
According to the Urban Dictionary a change maker is someone “who desires change in the world and, by gathering knowledge and resources, makes that change happen”. It’s true, I do have a penchant for ferreting out information – hence the launch of The Internal Comms Podcast, which is really just an excuse to ask interesting people probing questions.
As for making change happen, that is always a team effort as having a good idea is vastly easier than implementing it. That said, the award has prompted me to consider what I’ve learned in a 30-year career in internal communication that’s worth sharing. Some are lessons, others are principals and a few just Katie-isms.
#1 Never mistake busy for productive. They are often opposites.
#2 Failure is not the antithesis of success. It is often one step closer to it.
#3 Employees do not owe us their attention – we have to earn it. And, that’s getting harder.
#4 As IC pros, we have knowledge and insight about our audience other comms pros only dream of having about theirs.
#5 I have never had a good idea sat at my desk. If you’re stuck, change the stimulus.
#6 Your inbox is mostly someone else’s agenda. Set your own agenda for the day.
#7 Don’t take short cuts. Too often they take too long and cost too much.
#8 No one ever read their child bedtime content. We love and remember stories.
#9 Understand the rules of grammar. Then break and bend them with a knowing, wry smile. Your aim is to create connection not impress punctuation pedants.
#10 No doubt your organisation has a customer insight team. What about its employee insight department? Don’t overlook the wisdom that surrounds you.
#11 Culture is not a poster on a wall. It is not a set of values in a handbook. It is how we behave when no one is looking.
#12 Do not be held back by an organogram. You might not have the authority to do it, but could you be given the responsibility?
#13 Curiosity is your best defence against obsolescence.
#14 With measurement, never confuse satisfaction with effectiveness.
#15 In the future, internal communication will move from interruption to permission – content that is anticipated, relevant and personal.
#16 Remember, as soon as you have placed someone into a pigeon-hole, they will seek to fly straight out of it. Question stereotypes.
#17 A deep, meaningful connection with a few is vastly more valuable than being instantly forgotten by the many.
#18 Those who listen harder, learn more.
#19 Social is a behaviour, not a tool. Why is no one commenting on your CEO’s blog? When did she or he comment last on someone else’s?
#20 In good research, the method should be a message. Make people feel heard. Conversely, if you don’t want to know, don’t ask.
#21 Using long words and complex jargon never made anyone sound clever. The brightest people distil complex ideas into their simplest form.
#22 Invest in your career and seek inspiration daily.
#23 You cannot change someone’s behaviour unless you know what is driving it.
#24 The braver the editorial decision, the more compelling the content.