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IoIC Profession Map

Gemma Smith, internal communications business partner at Capgemini, used IoIC’s initial profession map when she moved into IC in 2016. As a member of the advisory board for the new framework, she understands how the tool can support practitioners at every level.

Why were you keen to be involved in the evolution of the profession map framework?
My boss at the time is an IoIC board member, and she asked me if I’d like to get involved to put across the viewpoint of someone relatively new to internal communication.
Although I’ve had project management roles that used many of the same skills, I moved into IC towards the end of 2016. I had done the IoIC Foundation Diploma and used the existing IoIC profession map material a lot. It helped my confidence and identified where my past experience could be useful.
What was your role as a member of the advisory board? 
I wanted to get across the real-life experience of using the profession map. Practitioners who have been in an IC role for a long time know what should be in there and what the right skills are, but perhaps lack the experience of having the document to hand for review, and of using it as a tool and knowing how user-friendly it was. 
What was your experience of being part of the board? 
It was good to speak to people with different levels of experience – people who were new to IC and those who had been working in IC for years, across different industries, in the public and private sector, in agencies. It was interesting to see that a lot of the channels we use are similar. 
There were people who have little budget and have to do innovative things. Agencies can produce all-singing and all-dancing campaigns and channels, but it was nice to see where people have had to be creative with little money.
What changes have you seen in your short time in internal comms?
In the few years I’ve worked in IC, I’ve seen it become more strategic and better recognised as a separate function. In the past, for some people, it has been a side role alongside their day job. 
From speaking to other people, I’ve realised we’re lucky in our organisation. We’re a big team, we get funded, and we have a seat with the board.
Which of the core skills you discussed in the advisory board sessions have stood out to you as particularly important for an internal communicator?
Definitely the strategic planning element, but also around influencing abilities and building stakeholder relationships. We need to be able to put our position forward and say, ‘I am the expert and this is why you should use this channel or work in this manner.’ 
Having the confidence and background knowledge around engagement and understanding the neuroscience and psychology of communication means that you have evidence that this is the correct means. You’re not just doing something because it looks pretty.
What else has pleased you about the new profession map framework?
One of the key changes is that it has been simplified. The existing document is quite big and there’s a lot of information there – it can be overwhelming. And the existing categories didn’t quite work for a lot of IC roles. 
The terminology of roles varies, so we’ve made it easier to navigate according to experience, from entry level up to senior professional. So regardless of the title of your role, you’ll find it easier to locate your place on the map, which I hope will encourage people to use it more. 
How will you use the map?
I intend to use it to help develop training plans and career paths. I’m three years in now, and looking to move in to higher level roles, so how can I get where I need to be? 
I now have a team member who reports in to me and she’s completely new to internal comms. It’s great to have an easy-to-use framework that will help set her career development and training: here’s the goal, this is where we want to get to, this is what training will get you to this place, this is how you can learn from the team, and this is what we need to source externally.
How can the profession map help grow internal comms’ reputation?
It gives us gravitas, and will help us have discussions with senior leaders who don’t recognise the value of a dedicated IC team. If they see it laid out as a profession and the skills needed, they will understand what goes in to being a comms professional.
I hope it will persuade them to dedicate more time to internal comms and help them realise that it’s not just an add-on to another role. They may not need an entire team, but one dedicated professional could make a significant difference to their business.

View the new IoIC Profession Map.
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