In Episode 51 of the Internal Comms Podcast, Katie Macaulay speaks to comms expert Jane Mitchell on a range of topics, from how to create healthy cultures in the workplace, to why it’s the communicator’s job to sometimes say ‘no’.
Now an IABC Fellow, Jane began her illustrious career at the BBC, on shows like Blue Peter, Tomorrow’s World and Grange Hill, before moving to producing award-winning films and videos for corporate clients.
Jane took lessons learned in television broadcasting with her into her work through the 1990s, where she focused on developing strategic approaches to internal communications and employee engagement. Then, in 2005, she set up JL&M, working at board level to help clients tackle difficult issues around company ethics, purpose, and values.
Here are some of our key takeaways from a fantastic episode.
#1 Team members should be working towards a clear, singular goal
When Jane was working in broadcast television, every member of the team knew precisely what it took to get the programme live and on air. There was a very clear shared goal and therefore people were incredibly respectful of each other. In the world of corporate ethics and values, ethical failures are often down to people not really understanding why they are there. Not necessarily what they are there to do, but why they are doing it, and how it connected to the bigger picture. When people are too narrowly focused, anything creative, any diversity of thought, any innovation, goes flying out the window.
#2 There’s a range of reasons why organisations falter
All organisations are different, but there can be common threads for failures, such as a lack of a sense of purpose, or a singular focus on numbers and targets. Often, capable, intelligent people relinquish responsibility to those higher up the chain instead of asking “Can we talk about that? Because we’re on the ground doing this stuff, and this instruction doesn’t make sense.” Transparent communication is vital for upholding corporate ethics.
#3 Treat employees as individuals and they will care more
The bottom line to making employees care is to respect people as individuals with their own viewpoints. For example, if you have a code of conduct a team is supposed to follow, don’t just dump it on their desk or in their inbox and hope for the best. Employees must understand why you do things a certain way in an organisation, and how that directly correlates with the success of the team, the business unit, and the company. Shift your thinking and behaviour to connect the dots on effective engagement.
#4 The best way isn’t always the newest way
Businesses often want to be seen as cutting edge, introducing new communications technologies periodically. But, as communicators, when considering introducing something new, the most important question we should be asking is “why?”
With the intelligence we have now, our priority is to understand how best to engage our audience. Move on from being a messenger because communicating isn’t just about delivering messages. Deliver something that acknowledges that these are human beings, and that we want something fundamental to change in our communication stream.