Human beings are hardwired for optimism, and never is our tendency to look on the bright side more in evidence than when we’re approaching the start of a new year. For most of us, our success rate in living up to new year resolutions is pretty shocking, but every year we adamantly insist that the next 12 months will be different. It’s in our nature. So here, with a heaped tablespoon of positivity, I present ten new year resolutions for internal communicators everywhere …
1. Unleash your creativity. Make 2013 the year you open the dam and let your creative juices flow. Soon, creativity will be high up on the list of required skills for communicators, so make a start now. Learn how to have great ideas, understand where creativity happens, know how to encourage others to be creative, open your eyes to fresh perspectives, change the way you look at the world. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.
2. Find your Reason Why. Purpose is the new money. It’s what people search for, at work and at play. Most organisations struggle to explain why they do what they do, which is why they resort to bland and uninspiring vision statements. So start with your own team. Talk about why you’re here. What’s the point of you? What’s the point of your whole organisation? Remember, most companies give their people something to work on, inspirational companies give their people something to work towards.
3. Be more playful. Workplaces are so serious, but they don’t need to be. Make 2013 the year you introduce some play and fun into what you do. Try breaking the mould and doing something a little different, something with a sense of spirit and playfulness. If you want to get your message noticed, you’ll need to break a few patterns of behaviour.
4. Chill Baby Chill. I don’t mean to come over all Austin Powers here but we really do need to relax and step back from trying to control everything. The future of internal comms will be much less top-down and managed. It’ll be personalised, networked, self-directed and collaborative, so we need to change the way we approach our role in the mix. We’ll need to learn to trust more. And we’ll need to stop doing some things.
5. Learn something new. Set yourself a goal to learn something new about our craft. In my experience, we communicators tend to plough a fairly narrow field of established best practice and we can be slow to embrace new ways of working and thinking. As the world around us changes, we need to adapt to survive and prosper, so take this time to build your knowledge. Learn about creativity, change psychology, social media, authentic leadership etc. Or add some business acumen to your armoury. Go visit that part of your organisation you know least about.
6. Look again at print. Printed communication material is coming back into fashion, and not before time. Of course it needs to be part of a channel mix, including online, but go on, dust off those old label templates and give your printer a call. You’ll make his day.
7. Review the way you ‘use’ your middle managers. Line managers may be your biggest frustration but have you considered that maybe they’re just a bit misunderstood? They may be an important part of your ‘process’ but they are also human beings (most of them) and they can’t be controlled like a piece of machinery. Cascades never work, so stop trying. Back off, support them from a distance and encourage them to express themselves.
8. De-clutter your message cupboard. New year is the time for a detox, for clearing out the old and unwanted ‘stuff’ that clutters up our lives. It’s the same with our comms, so take some time in January to take a look at what you’re communicating. Be prepared to dump some of the unclear and unnecessary. Take a deep breath, review your top line messages for 2013 and get rid of any message that is either ‘not important’, ‘important’ or ‘really important’… leaving only the ones that are ‘most important’.
9. Fall back in love with language. Let’s make 2013 the year we made a concerted effort to break free of corporate jargon. It has to stop. Let’s get some authenticity into corporate communication. Let’s use language that lifts hearts and boosts spirits. Let’s show some emotion for God’s sake. Read Dickens or Shakespeare to remind yourself how powerful the written word can be. It won’t be easy to break this terrible affliction, but let’s not be afraid to try.
10. Don’t be unoriginal. If you’re putting your 2013 plan together in January, take a moment to stop and think before you re-hash last year’s template. Do you really want to do more of the same? Maybe so, but just take time to think about the impact of each activity. Was it worth it? Will it be worth it again, or do we need to try something new? Much of our industry is templated, structured and managed. It can make us lazy. Be original in 2013. Be creative. Be bold.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Creative New Year.