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There's a difference between showing what you do and evidencing what you do

According to IoIC's Covid-19 survey, internal communicators are 'confident that their work in recent weeks has increased their presence and improved their reputation'. This is a nice soundbite but jars rather with what I am hearing and reading about many IC pros being made redundant.

It's true that many professions will, sadly, suffer redundancies; but others will be relatively immune. IoIC's Covid-19 survey tells us that 90% of respondents believe that the pandemic will have a very positive (32%) or positive (58%) impact upon our profession. False optimism, perhaps, as some IC teams are being cut in half. Ask around: is the same thing happening to IT or Governance teams?

With 71% of respondents believing that their workloads significantly increased during the pandemic; is it a case of 'thanks for your hard work when we needed you, but now we don't believe that we do?' And why are some professions likely to suffer more redundancies than others?

Here's a metaphor: Footballer 1 versus Footballer 2

I've removed their names for fear of disgruntlement from supporters, but Footballer 1 and Footballer 2 have been standout performers in the Premier League this season. Both are fast, can dribble, excite supporters, and are being linked with bigger clubs. Footballer 1 is the flashier player and has more of the ball, whereas Footballer 2 is more direct. Footballer 1 has scored 3 goals and has 5 assists, whereas Footballer 2 has scored 4 goals and has 10 assists. Footballer 1 is being linked with transfers to big clubs, whereas Footballer 2 is being linked with the very biggest clubs. I would suggest that the evidence of their impact (goals and assists) is the reason why Footballer 2 is perceived as the more valuable.

Internal Comms versus Procurement

You guessed it, the former is more often perceived like Footballer 1 – you can literally see what they do in terms of intranet content, videos, events etc., but the evidence of the impact is less hard-hitting. (In some cases, almost zero where metrics such as clicks and views are the main weapon to display ROI.) Procurement, for example, is often perceived as more like Footballer 2 – the evidence (evidently) speaks for itself in terms of money saved. (Or so they would say… in reality many Procurement teams are rather self-serving and will skew the bid submissions from suppliers to favour the lowest bid so that they can more easily claim cost savings; whereas, in reality, often the lowest bid is the lowest for a reason and the supplier is sub-standard, costing more in the long term… but why let the truth get in the way of a good financial figure.)

So, I would suggest that, generally speaking, it's not the quality of the work of IC pros that's the issue, it's how it is presented as evidence of ROI. Much of the focus from our industry has been on how or what to measure… from my experience senior leaders see these kinds of outputs as 'nice to know' but what they really want to know and understand is: what am I actually getting in return for the money I spend on your function?

Three free things you can do to understand what evidence will impress your senior leaders

Budgets for courses are likely to be tight over the coming months, so here's some freebies that anyone can do:

  1. Ask to join a programme board session where business cases are discussed to get a flavour of what helps them pass
  2. Ask your Programme Management Office if you can read some successful business cases
  3. Ask an IT or Finance Director out for lunch (in-person or virtual) and ask them what grabs the attention of senior leaders

More on the ROI

If you're interested to hear more, then I suggest following the IoIC-backed Employee Experience Opportunity. As well as seeking to obtain parity between the Employee Experience and the Customer Experience, it will be offering toolkits to help IC pros (and others) better understand the ROI on the work that we do. 

IoIC Masters in Internal Communication Management ...
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