AB Thinks  →  20th June 2018

What are the skills needed for the future of internal communication?

At the June AB Thinks Live event a panel of experts gave their views about the skills we need for the future. Experts in digital, employer brand, corporate communication and internal communication all gave a deep insight into what is important for the individual and the team.

There were three big themes the panel debated; confidence, pace and strategy:

  • Confidence to manage all aspects of communication (internal and external) and to have strategic conversations with senior leaders. Internal communicators are often lacking in the courage to manage a call with the media or take control of a message across all stakeholders, which is a must for the increasingly blurred lines of internal/external
  • Get better at working at pace. The world of external communication can often be driven by deadlines from the media and the ability to have four rounds of sign-off and an opinion from every stakeholder just doesn’t happen. For the internal communicator this can be the norm, so adapting to a ‘lack of perfection’ and being more fleet of foot will support the changing environment we work in
  • Don’t get lost down the planning rabbit hole. There was a good debate about the need for an internal communication strategy (you can read our panellist Helen Deverell’s view on this), but the essence of this conversation was the need to execute. It’s easy to create documents to plan out what you’re going to do, but we know from research that leaders care about the execution, not necessarily the thinking behind it.

So, when asked what were the top three or five skills we need to focus on, this was their ultimate wish list:

  • Coaching skills
  • Raise your own awareness of industry trends
  • Resilience
  • Get closer to the people agenda in your organisation
  • Be confident – knock on doors and find the stories
  • Challenge more
  • Business acumen
  • Measurement that is meaningful
  • Emotional intelligence – connecting people and understanding people
  • Data or information analysis – processing large amounts and from different sources
  • Training others – everyone has a voice, we just aren’t all as good as using it
  • Listening and analysis
  • Curiosity
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