I've just got the December/January issue of Melcrum's Strategic Communications Management (SCM) magazine – presumably because the February/March issue will have a great case study of a project we did last year with a pan-European salesforce to improve revenue and sales on a particular product. I'll let you know in due course when that one comes out – and add a piece of additional material that got cut from the final article.
This issue, however, includes an article about something that always seems to get missed in most communications programmes: the communications team themselves.
Sally Jackson of EDF Energy writes about how to work with the internal communications team during change – focusing in particular on the often-overlooked fact that they may be trying to reassure the rest of the organisation, or at least clarify things, while going through substantial upheaval themselves.
I'd go further.
Too many communications teams are tasked with engaging and explaining the new vision or the new organisation to the rest of the business. (I'd challenge that there are better ways of going about all of this, but for now, let's assume that that's the process you're stuck with.) So, we have a bunch of people who have been given the task of making something appealing and understandable to everyone else.
How much time have the change drivers put into convincing the communications team? Have they been engaged or just presented with it and told to get on with it?
A decent team will, of course, ask questions to clarify matters for themselves and will be professional in communicating that onwards. But we know how subtle metaphors and cues can be in triggering responses from people. A professional team, with doubts, will give that impression in their work.
Increasingly, when we're involved in change processes, we insist on what appears to be a superfluous piece of work at the start of the project – working with the comms team as though they were the end-audience, engaging and explaining and working with them.
To twist the old maxim (and take liberties with my schoolboy Latin):
qui persuadet persuadores