AB Thinks  →  12th December 2022

How to reach the top of your game as an internal comms professional

As host of his smash podcast, A View From The Top, Adrian Cropley welcomes guests from all comms disciplines to share their success stories. The tables turned in the most recent episode of The Internal Comms Podcast, as Adrian shared his wisdom for rising through the ranks and taking a seat at the top. (Whisper it, but it doesn’t need to take decades for today’s comms practitioners to reach the pinnacle.)

“I see some amazing internal comms professionals out there who are really having the right conversations with the executive,” Adrian tells host Katie Macaulay. “They are the trusted advisors for the organisation.” Indeed, there’s been a shift in internal comms as the profession has become better established. IC practitioners, as Adrian says, “have earned their right to work at the table. They’ve moved from order taker to strategic advisor.”

As a leadership coach, Adrian knows the three attributes of successful comms professionals and executive leaders: knowledge, attitude, behaviour. So, as an internal comms newcomer, or somebody wanting to advance in your comms career, how can you secure that all-important seat at the table?

Here are Adrian’s three top tips…

Go in search of knowledge
Seeking out advice and support from a professional can be a great step for supercharging your career.

But do you need a coach or a mentor? “You can have lots of mentors within your organisation,” Adrian told Katie. “People that are senior in roles and whatever else. That’s great for a sanity check. But a coach is somebody that’s really going to whip you into shape. It’s a little bit like doing a boot camp!”

Coaching, of course, isn’t for everyone. And if it’s not a viable option, seek knowledge by listening to your peers, regularly attending industry events and webinars, always keeping your ear to the ground for emerging research and even considering gaining accreditation.

“It’s really important that we have the credentials to run our roles within organisations, and encourage employers to adopt certified communication professionals,” says Adrian. “Then we’ll elevate the profession.”

Find the right organisation, and show off what you can do
Finding the right fit for your ‘brand’ of internal comms is essential for you to thrive. Even if you’re early on in your career, Adrian suggests, “if it’s not the right organisation and you’re doing all of the right things – get the heck out! They don’t deserve you.”

While many organisations are catching on to the strategic importance of internal comms, if you find yourself in an environment where you’re not encouraged to provide strategic input then Adrian says you’re being used as an “order taker” or the writer of the business – your skills are best used elsewhere. “If you can demonstrate your value early in the career, you will rise to the top very quickly.”

Bring the right attitude to the table
“I leave the ego at the door,” Adrian tells Katie when asked what traits and characteristics have led to his career success.

Having the right attitude and being willing to learn and be humble is something that will put you in good stead for making lasting connections and developing a personable way of working.

Attitude matters when things go wrong, too, although you should take time to celebrate success. “I get very proud about the stuff that I do. And I get really happy when things are really successful,” he explains.

“But I’m almost just as happy when things fail or go wrong. Because my expression, and anybody that that has worked with me will tell you, is: ‘Well what did we learn from that?’

“I tell myself, constantly, when something goes absolutely pear shaped, what do I learn from that one?”

Listen to the full episode of Adrian Cropley on The Internal Comms Podcast here