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IoIC chief executive Jennifer Sproul has recorded a podcast and spoken to the BBC about the skills needed in the modern internal communication landscape.

Jennifer spoke in detail to communications expert and founder and host of ICology Chuck Gose about the IoIC’s profession map, which defines the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to tackle today’s internal communication challenges.
In the half-hour ICology podcast, Jennifer explained how the framework came about following her discussions with members, industry professionals, qualification candidates and delegates – but made it clear that it is a work in progress.
“The landscape of internal communication has changed so much,” she tells Chuck. “Yes, there are core skills, but there wasn’t a place that was defining what we do, what good looks like and what our role in business is. I took that back to the IoIC board and we thought there was an opportunity to help our members articulate why they’re so valuable to business.


Explaining core IC skills
Jennifer talked about the six core professional areas for internal communicators:
·      Organisational strategy and planning
·      People and cultural understanding
·      Messaging, storytelling and design
·      Tools, technology and digital
·      Coaching and facilitating
·      Listening and measuring effectiveness
Organisational strategy and planningis where everything starts, she says. “It’s really important for internal communicators to understand the strategy, the goals and environment of their business and the role that people play in its success. There seems to be an increasing need for internal communicators to develop their commercial and business acumen as it helps strengthen their role and makes them more of an influential voice.”
Jennifer also urges internal comms practitioners to look at people’s motivations to understand how messages are received and translated.
She reflects that internal communicators often have hard stories to tell, adding that there is an art to articulating what is going on and visually sharing messages in an original way. As channel masters, internal communicators must use the right channels for the right audience, she tells Chuck. “Technology is moving at a faster rate than ever, so it’s important that internal communicators are ahead of the current trend and use the technology that is right for their strategy.”
Reflecting on the skill of coaching and facilitating, Jennifer explains that, as trusted advisers, internal communicators need to play a listening role to help leaders and line managers communicate effectively and build relationships with employees. “They need to facilitate conversations and communication between employees and leadership, so that leaders understand what people are feeling.
“Listening is about taking the feedback and demonstrating what the organisation has done with that. It’s important to close that feedback loop. If we don’t measure, we don’t know how good we are.
This year, IoIC will use feedback on the framework from IoIC members and other IC practitioners to build on the profession map and expand the criteria of some of the competencies.

Click the media link below to listen to the podcast recorded with ICology.


The BBC’s history of internal comms
Meanwhile, a BBC Radio Four documentary, featuring Jennifer, looked at the history of internal comms.
Vincent Franklin, star of Twenty Twelve and The Thick Of It and founder of communication consultancy Quietroom, hosted Bathrooms Are Coming: An Internal History of Corporate Comms, a title relating to a 1950s corporate musical to motivate employees of American Standard about new toilets and showers.
Franklin takes an in-depth look at internal communication through the years – how it started, how it’s evolved and how organisations talk and listen to their people.
The language of internal communicators has changed – not always for the better, he notes. “Often, I’ve struggled to keep up, especially when people whose job is communicating with other people develop a language that seems designed to keep those people at arm’s length. It’s often a language which, while it may have begun to help them efficiently talk about technical aspects of their work, about cascading information across stakeholder silos, ends up being the way they talk – as if that’s normal.
“Suddenly everything that has to be written is described as being ‘drafted’, things need to be ‘actioned’ rather than done and we’re always ‘going forward’, even though only Doctor Who has the option of going backwards.”
Jennifer was one of a number of voices in the documentary. She outlined the modern-day internal comms scene and how it has evolved beyond publications and channels.
“The phrases that you hear a lot today are employee experience, employee voice, employee engagement – it’s all about making people feel as though they are engaged and informed to ensure they are driving towards the organisation’s success,” Jennifer says. “Now we talk more about understanding our people and our cultures, how people behave, how we can tap into that and curate conversation… and influence leaders.”
The documentary, which is still available to hear online in the BBC Radio Four archive, includes excerpts and perspectives from a number of voices, including former IoIC chief executive Kathie Jones, creator of sitcom W1A John Morton and former editor of the Independent Amol Rajan.

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