I’ve never asked so many questions since I started working in internal communications… And the most common? Why?
Why do our people need to know this?
Why should they care?
Why do we want our people to do things differently?
Why do we need this change?
I’m a big fan of plans (my planning sessions are usually powered by a gigantic cup of tea, and many piles of sticky notes and highlighters), and one of the advantages of thinking through internal communications strategically in a planned way is that you have to simplify.
I will, doubtless, talk about plans in more scintillating detail (and at great length) in another post… But, they do help me to start formulating the questions I need to answer to get to the nub of the issue. I like to bulletpoint four or five key messages during the planning phase – those simplest and most basic messages that we need everyone to understand.
Speak to anyone about a project they’ve been working on for a while, or one that they’re passionate about, and they’ll doubtless start about half way through. They’ll assume that you’re as passionate, interested, and up to speed on that project as they are. Sadly, that’s rarely possible.
One of the challenges – and something I really enjoy about working in internal communications – is speaking to these people with fantastically technical, in-depth knowledge, and trying to convey some of that knowledge to colleagues who may be in the dark about this new and exciting thing. It’s our job to take it back to the beginning, back to the simple who/what/where/why to help our people understand our messages.
We want everyone to have that ‘Eureka’ moment. That moment when it starts making sense, when we understand the point and the benefit, when we can join this up into the bigger organisational picture.
But, to get everyone there with us, we have to be the ‘Why’ in the room.