AB Thinks  →  9th April 2020

Do Your Homework – Rachel Miller on How to Thrive in IC

In Episode 6 of Season 3, IC veteran Rachel Miller sits down with Katie for a second fascinating conversation, this time on how to thrive in IC – especially during a crisis.

Rachel’s appearance on the first episode of The Internal Comms Podcast has had more than 3,000 listens so far. One year on, Rachel and Katie met at Rachel’s new All Things IC Hub in London, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting the city.

As the UK prepares to go into lockdown, Rachel talks about helping leaders understand the true value of internal comms, tailoring IC content to cut through the noise when companies are in crisis mode, and how to ensure a remote workforce continues to feel connected. She also shares some common pitfalls and useful tips for conversations about internal comms for those of us in the field.

Below we share a selection of Rachel’s expert insights. To hear her conversation with Katie in full, and access our rich catalogue of episodes featuring top communicators from across the globe, subscribe to The IC Podcast.

#1 Helping leaders understand the true value of IC – the eternal problem for internal communicators
“It’s important to be consistent in what you say. I find time and again that IC people cannot articulate what their overarching message to the organisation actually is. If you don’t have clarity and certainty on this, you can’t be evidence-based decision makers. My advice is to always do your homework as an individual and a team: what are we here to do? What’s the purpose of internal communication in our organisation? What does good look like?”

#2 To cut through the noise, you need to understand what channel people go to for credible, accurate, reliable information
We need to understand how people communicate and the channels they rely on. We need to know what the source of truth is in our organisation, because that’s the filter of all the other noise. Recent conversations I’ve had with clients have been about how to make sure employees get the accurate, credible, reliable information about their health and about the COVID-19 risks. If there’s ever a time to really understand your business and know how to cut through the noise, it’s in crisis situations like this.”

#3 A remote workforce needs a good mechanism to feel connected, wherever they are
“There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Often it’s about being traditional, sending things home, for example, but you need to come up with different solutions and have variety. With remote working, we miss the nuances of conversation in the corridor and the checking in with each other in person – and that’s where the real connections happen. Staying connected and having a personal network, with the ability to ask questions, are really important to carry on the conversation outside of a virtual meeting.’

#4 Common pitfalls and useful tips for conversations about IC
“Don’t use the phrase ‘How did it land?’ The focus for us shouldn’t be about information going out, it should be about whether it got through. Does our employee know the message? Do they understand it? Are they going to act on it? Do they have any questions?’ Just landing something isn’t enough.
“Don’t expect positive feedback when you do something right but use my (unofficial) 20-minute test to gauge whether you made a mistake. You’ll hear within that timeframe if you have! Positive feedback comes from checking understanding with employees, gathering anecdotal feedback, measuring whether your channels are working.
“Make yourself accountable to stakeholders who have made themselves visible and vulnerable in front of the organisation, particularly during change comms. That’s what earns the currency of trust for strategic counsel.”

#5 Want to create impactful content? Ensure informed employee voice
“We need to include not just stories created by comms professionals, but employee-generated content. That’s part of the fabric of how an organisation communicates. But to have authentic communication come from employees in their own voice, you need to let a few things slide. Provide advice, guidance, toolkits and templates on how to make content, but don’t get hung up on small mistakes. We need to have a consistency of approach while trusting our employees to create their own content. Let the wonkiness come through.”