Give some TLC (tender loving care) to ‘YOU’ PLC
As poacher turned gamekeeper, I have recently swapped from comms practitioner to giving advice and support to comms pros looking to take the next step in their careers. It’s given me an interesting perspective on career development. It’s clear to me that one of the challenges for many people working in Internal Communications (IC) is they usually find themselves doing great things within organisations but in a supporting role – the wind beneath the wings, if you like. This is in no way a reflection of their impact or influence – in fact it’s far, far from it. In my experience IC folks don’t take centre stage in an organisation by singing their own praises or giving the vanity publishing industry a boost, because they are too busy. They are behind the scenes improving communications internally to help the business be the best it can be in an increasingly competitive world.
You rarely witness IC teams thrust into the spotlight of public praise for their expert handling of the following issues – just a few of the many key areas where an internal comms practitioner can make the corporate world a better place:
- Helping bring the strategy to life so people can clearly see what their role is in the organisation to help it succeed.
- Being present at the start of any major change so you can help from beginning to end avoiding costly and reputational mistakes.
- Making sense of the often incomprehensible amount of information clogging the corporate arteries – clarity is quite a good thing when it comes to being a tad more profitable.
- Working all the hours and more to get the company out of a crisis – oil spills, union strikes, dodgy dealings.
- Coaching and encouraging managers and leaders to get the best out of their teams – most people leave managers not businesses; therefore, this is a critical role.
So it’s no surprise, when it comes to looking for a new job, candidates can struggle with talking about all the great things they did to make ‘Big Company’ PLC an even better business. My advice is simple. Take a step back, imagine you are the business that needs some comms help and use all your skills and expertise to improve ‘YOU’ PLC.
- Corporate narrative: Every business needs to be able to clearly articulate where it’s been, where it’s going and why is it doing it – What’s your story? Can you tell a prospective employer why would you be a great asset for their organisation?
- Focus on the things that matter: VMA Group’s annual Professional Development in Internal Communications research is a great indicator of what clients are looking for in their internal communications team – evidence of working with leaders, gravitas, impact and influence, business acumen are all great on your CV
- Adding value to the bottom line? For too long IC struggled with a bit too much ‘fluff’ in the function. Now it’s about results and you need to think about what you have achieved in your various comms activities; show some outcomes in your CV, picking a few to talk about at the interview. A CEO I know once told me: Anyone in a business who can’t show how they add value to an organisation becomes an overhead. Harsh words, but we know what happens to overheads!
- Market intelligence: make sure you keep abreast of the latest thinking on internal communications – buzzwords. In our digital and social world, it’s so much easier to find research and learn from your peers. You don’t want to be a dinosaur, it keeps things interesting, there is something to talk to prospective employers about and while you are looking for a new challenge, you might be able to use that knowledge in your current role.
Who knows, your CEO might even notice!
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