AB Thinks  →  12th April 2023

How to be courageous with your internal comms

It takes courage to speak the truth.

We’ve all heard it in some form: bravery is a core attribute of any successful internal communicator.

“My job, yes, is to crank out a newsletter. My job, yes, is to write speeches and do PowerPoints and fancy up the intranet site. But my job is really to tell leaders what they need to hear, whether they want to hear it or not” said Jason Anthoine, this week’s guest on The Internal Comms Podcast.

And he’s right. While some people may see IC professionals as the ‘send’ all’ button pushers on corporate comms, we’re so much more than that.

Here’s three standout tips from Jason Anthoine on approaching comms with courage:

We’re not in the comms business, we’re in the courage business. And we better start having a lot of it.
“As internal comms professionals, we are in a unique position where we act as advisors to senior leaders. We also see every level of the organisation – areas that the top brass don’t typically get an authentic look at. That means we’re in the powerful grasp of knowledge that can revolutionise the way leadership drives the business, if we pluck up the courage to let them know.”

Jason once found himself in such a position, at 30,000 feet with the CEO of a company. After delivering the hard truth that strikers were taking action to “protect the company from [the CEO]”, said CEO told him “You know what? We need more people like you to help more people like me understand what’s really going on.”

Radical honesty can be uncomfortable, but it can be our superpower.

Nobody who’s ever really been as successful as they want to be, did so by not being bold.
Jason founded his consultancy, Audacity, on a simple tagline: “bold thinking, at work”. He’s clear we should be pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

“The whole idea is we’ve got to get beyond thinking how we’ve been thinking, not just as a profession and as professionals, or as a function, but as leaders of the organisation,” Jason told Katie. “What can we do that’s unique and different, forward-thinking? That doesn’t mean it’s reckless or careless or too risky. It doesn’t have to be any of those things to be audacious. It just has to be something that no one’s tried.”

“If that doesn’t work, then we’ll find something else. But the goal is to keep trying to find that right combination.”

There’s no time for the same-old.
According to Jason’s ‘What Employees Want’ survey, colleagues will spend just five minutes on what we call “capital C communications” – the content we produce as internal comms practitioners.

Just five minutes.

“We don’t want to own everything, every conversation; we can’t,” Jason mused. “They’re never going to give us enough people. But we want to influence all the conversations as best we can.”

Be courageous with those capital C comms and keep the lower c’s* running like clockwork.

*“Lower c communications” is operational information from the organisation, such as when their shift starts, health and safety regulations, operational updates and all the need-to-knows to keep the company running.

Listen to the full episode here.