AB Thinks  →  5th January 2023

How to be your own best teammate

It’s 10am on a Monday. Your CEO wants your help to communicate a strategic transformation plan, you have a leadership conference to organise, and the HR Director wants to discuss the new performance development process.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

While the ever-increasing recognition of IC as an integral business function is a cause for celebration (indeed, a recent study found that 85% of senior leaders now view internal communicators as trusted advisors) this comes at a price: almost 70% of comms professional cite lack of time as their main challenge.

For those who are flying the IC flag solo, it can be overwhelming. There are few people, if any, to discuss, test and review your work, and the lack of a team can be lonely.

So, how can you be your own best teammate?

Define your role
While internal communicators can pull off some impressive feats, we can’t do it all. Clearly define your role with your stakeholders. From tactical to strategic, which activities fall within your remit and which don’t?

When another project is added to your plate, ask which of your current tasks can be delegated or deprioritised. This should help guard against ‘scope creep’.

Empower others
You’re the IC expert, but creating a communicative culture requires everyone to lean in. Consider how you can build a more self-sufficient organisation by empowering your colleagues. There will be great communicators at all levels in your organisation. Could you form a network of ‘comms champions’ to support various areas of the business?

Explore which of your skills you can teach to others and reinforce them with toolkits, playbooks and guidelines. From podcasts to video to on-demand webinars, there’s lots of room to get creative beyond PDFs!

Build your network, inside and out
Working independently is not the same as working in isolation. To build a great internal network, start with the people who ‘get it’. Look to your colleagues in marketing, media relations, investor relations or ESG – could you join their meetings or book in a regular catch-up to help you keep up with what’s happening on the ground?

Another great way of finding like-minded people to bounce ideas off is to build your network externally. Join professional bodies (IOIC, IABC, PRCA) and online groups (LinkedIn), follow experts in the field on social media, subscribe to podcasts (like ours!), and attend events and webinars.

If you can’t find anything that fits your exact needs, reach out to others in your sector, or even create a special interest group. IC is an open and supportive community – and a problem shared is a problem halved!

Think big-picture
Plot out your priorities in an Eisenhower matrix to identify the ‘meta’ activity you need to focus on – that is, the high-value task with the greatest long-term impact. This is likely to be important but not necessarily urgent; for example, establishing strategic comms building blocks or developing organisational comms capability and confidence.

Meta activity will probably require a larger budget than your monthly newsletter, so plan how you’ll demonstrate its impact upfront, ensuring your work is measurable against clear objectives. This will help you make the case to whoever holds the purse-strings. (Need a hand with developing measurement strategies? We can help.)

Invest in yourself
Finally, don’t forget to use some of your budget on you – coaching, mentoring, training. You are your greatest asset. Investing in yourself will pay dividends.

We’ve been there, done that. If you’re a team of one, say hello to our managing director, Katie Macaulay, for a free one-to-one chat.