In a series of recent posts, Shel Holz shared a new model for employee communication. If you practice internal communications, you’ve got to read them and then go back and read them again. There are seven parts–a lot to digest–and worth it.

As I read the posts, I found myself asking a fundamental question that I’ve often faced in my career: What is the purpose of internal communications–to market,  inform, or engage? I think the answer is it can be all three. That’s because our work is so contextual. I think back, and note that sometimes I’ve supported an executive or an initiative. I’ve been positioned in HR or Corporate Communications or an operations department. I’ve been dedicated to a variety of functions and social responsibility. In each of those situations, I’ve had to be agile and responsive. Sometimes, I’ve focused on changing behaviors; yet other times, I’ve been all about getting the word out on time in the right template; and still other times, my work has been to foster engagement within a group. And in many of those situations, I’ve experienced a tension between myself and others with communication accountabilities or responsibilities.

In some of those situations, I’ve experienced a tension between myself and others with communication accountabilities or responsibilities.

Tension can be good. It forces you to strive harder, do better, deliver higher-quality.

Yet, when I’m accountable for changing behaviors, say, and you’re focused on processing the email according to standards, well, we can find ourselves out of alignment. And that causes a lot of tension. And worse than that, it hurts communications operations and delivery.

If we have a common, agreed-on purpose, however, then we have something to help us navigate the demands and pressures. We have guardrails to aid in our decision-making and to prioritize our resources. And I’m not saying that if your purpose is to market that you’ll never inform–far from it. But if you have clarity on your guiding purpose, the rest of the work will more easily fall into place.

Getting clarity around your internal communications purpose, then, combined with a great model is our way to success. So, I ask you: Can you say what the purpose of your internal communications function is? It’s worth thinking about.

 

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