Professional Development

By Andrew Holland A version of this blog post was written for the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) #IChoseIC series, where internal communications professionals share how their IC careers started and have evolved. Seize the opportunity I remember the day I discovered Internal Communications like it was yesterday. It was 7pm and I’d been at work for about 12 hours having started on the early shift. This was in a call centre for a well-known utility and I’d recently been promoted to call centre team leader. I read the job advert for an Internal Communications Assistant and it jumped out at me. It described everything I wanted to do. I successfully applied and started a 25-year career in Internal Communications, which has been rewarding at every turn! In that first IC role, I had two inspirational leaders who really helped me establish my IC credentials. The first was my manager, who was incredibly supportive, extremely...

Don't sweat the small stuff This week I’ve been interviewing candidates on Zoom. So far, so normal. I’ve worked from home for five years and although I’d rather be out and about meeting people face to face, location and schedules often necessitate video calls. However, like most people in the communications community, I’m now juggling the multiple responsibilities of home-working, home-schooling and feeding four people instead of one. Whereas before I would have been able to talk to you from a quiet home office, that space is in high demand, so instead I will be in my kitchen. Look closely and you’ll see a pile of washing up in the background, a dog scratching at the back door, and despite my best efforts to keep them away, one or more hungry boys/men tiptoeing around behind me. The point is I understand what it’s like. Job hunting is stressful at the best of times...

These are unusual times. Yesterday the Prime Minister announced unprecedented measures to keep us all safe and to keep the NHS running. I hope that your employer has taken the responsible step of sending you home. In which case, many of you will be busy managing Coronovirus communications for your stakeholders and colleagues. You may also be juggling the joint challenges of working remotely, and home-schooling or entertaining your kids. Comms Leaders has always been an agile business, so although we’d rather be out and about meeting people, we are completely set up for home-working, with or without pets, kids, partners in self-isolation etc. Like everyone, we are concerned about the effect this virus will have on the health and finances of our families, friends and all our clients and candidates. We are here if you need us. Whether you would like a review of your CV or LinkedIn profile, to benchmark...

By Belinda Gannaway, Strategy Director at FathomXP The rise of EX - Employee Experience It's 30 years since the experience economy started to gain attention. But it’s taken a while for the thinking around experience and employees to collide. EX only really arrived on the scene as a way of thinking about people in the business about five years ago. But collided they have. Some 84% of HR and business leaders say EX is important or very important – but only 9% say they are ready to address this issue (Deloitte 2019 Human Capital Trends Report). What is the role of internal comms in EX? To answer that, I’m borrowing a framework from the world of service design. Imagine a theatre: The stage is where the action is happening. Internal comms has a lot of front of stage action – channels, content, campaigns, events etc. Backstage are the support processes that produce the front stage experience: the...

By Mark McMahon, Senior Communications Manager at HSBC. A change of direction "Man is disturbed not by things, but the views he takes of them." Would that sentence change your life? It did for me. Ancient Stoic philosophy might not be top of everyone's reading list, but I came across this quote by Epictetus in a brilliant book called 'Happy' by Derren Brown and it had a profound effect on me. It's another way of saying, it's not the events all around us that cause us to feel a certain way, but how we choose to respond to them. Why am I telling you this? When I read it a few years ago it made me stop and think long and hard, especially about my career. It made me choose to feel differently about my role, my career path, and my potential. It made me consider the choices that were possible. It eventually made me switch...

By Belinda Gannaway, Strategy Director, Fathom XP If there’s one place to dance, it’s Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City. The music, the moonlight, the people. It’s pure bucket list. Sadly, not for me. Because I can’t dance – not really dance. So I didn’t. I sat it out and laid down a different memory. A memory of stopping myself doing something. Why? Ego. The protective cloak Dr Herbert Schofield from Loughborough University describes ego as the anaesthetic that nature gives us to deaden the pain of being a fool. I like this. But it doesn’t capture the self-limiting aspect of ego. For that I prefer the definition I’ve borrowed from our partner Hazel Lowndes at Ginger Dog. She describes ego as a protective cloak we wear in public so people don’t see the real, always-learning, never-perfect version of ourselves. Back in Mexico I wore this protective cloak to ensure I didn’t expose my incompetence to the world. It serves...

Vicki featured in The Communications Agency's 'Who's Who Wednesday' article in November: a weekly profile about who's who in internal communication. Here is a taster: Tell us a bit about your role: I’m one of the four partners at Comms Leaders. We’re a specialist recruiter for the corporate communications industry. We connect exceptional talent with our clients the old fashioned way, through building relationships. What’s on your internal comms agenda right now? I’ll answer this from the point of view of a third party - as we don’t have our own internal comms agenda, but can see what’s important to the industry. Internal comms professionals need to be all-rounders these days. They need to understand business and the impact of good (and bad) communications on the bottom line; they need to be at the forefront of the digital revolution; and they need to be strong relationship builders and influencers. The market demands really strong...

David Ferrabee is Director at Able and How, a management consultancy that helps organisations deliver successful change. He has worked with global clients including Shell, GSK, RBS, Coca-Cola Enterprises, ITV and more. We sent Vicki along to meet David, to discuss what skills are needed for a career in change and employee engagement, as well as whether organisations are responsible for their employees’ happiness. Vicki: Why are change and business transformation so important in today’s world? Why do we hear so much about them? David: Change is constant in business - it may be a cliché, but it’s true. Large businesses in the US used to have an average lifespan of 60 years. Now it’s more like 16. Look at huge companies like Viacom and AOL - major corporations are now lasting less than a generation. That really brings home the idea that change is happening at a rapid pace. The shape and...

This guest post is written by Michael Brown, who has been a leadership and personal development trainer for 17 years, working with organisations large and small worldwide. Michael writes a very interesting blog, alongside his ‘How not 2’ videos, a tongue in cheek look at how not to manage and lead teams. Work life balance?  Forget it! How would you compare your working life today with how it was five years ago? If you’re like many of the people I meet on leadership programmes, you may have lost sight of just how dysfunctional it has become. The sad fact of the matter is that the vast majority of employees have given up trying to engage with the organisation they work with. According to the annual Gallup state of the workplace report, only 16% of employees are actively engaged: the rest are either coasting along in neutral, waiting for things to improve, or even worse, actively disengaged and...

This blog post was written by Justine Ballard. The importance of preparation Many people think that presence comes down to a combination of natural charm, innate intelligence and sometimes good looks, but thankfully there is more to it than that and presence can be achieved by all of us. Your professional presence is helped by 3 things: being clear about your goals being comfortable with who you are and confident about what you are offering These three things, together with practice and preparation will help you enormously. The ‘P’s matter because, firstly, being very clear about the purpose and context of any meeting, will make it easier to work out what you really want to say and how you want to say it. This in turn will help you feel confident about what you are offering, as knowing whether you are selling, sharing information, negotiating or connecting will help you be clear about your approach. Then...