Innovate to motivate
Influencer and activist – these are two key traits of an effective internal communicator. That was the message that came across loud and clear at the Aspic seminar in London on 8 April.
The theme was Innovation in Internal Communication with speakers Matthew Partovi, founder of Culturevist and Gordon Dowall-Potter, Head of IC at Kier Group.
For Matthew, the traditional hierarchical structure of a company where every idea and budget has to be signed off at the top is a barrier to real innovation and responsiveness. “If you have restrictive three- or five-year plans and matching budgets, you can’t cope with the unpredictable,” he said. “It’s safer not to change stuff because you’ll be constantly seeking approval. Our biggest competitor becomes how we work internally.”
Another killer is the attempt to please everyone at the risk of pleasing no one.
So, how to innovate? Matthew suggests getting a firm understanding of what you want to achieve, finding people with the same energy and commitment in the company and together influencing those you know will work with you. Make things safe so the cost of failure is low and create a culture where trying is seen as a good thing.
Gordon at Kier did just that. Like most IC budgets, his was capped and the company already had a quarterly magazine. Dead end, right…? Wrong.
Gordon scrapped the standard A4 format of the magazine and created a bespoke version that really stood out. He published it three times a year, and with the money he saved created a Kier Connect app that was accessible on all devices and platforms and got 600+ downloads in the first two weeks. The app has now expanded to carry news, information and messages, putting comms in everyone’s pocket.
Regular informal emails from the CEO go to all staff and ‘coffee time’ with the senior leaders is a regular event where invited employees from across the organisation get a chance for two-way conversations.
Emails are marked according to their purpose – ‘FYI’, ‘Action Required’ and ‘Cascade’ – to reduce noise and help people prioritise.
Kier now has a suite of comms channels that reach all employees in the way they like to receive their information, offer opportunities for feedback and are truly engaging… and all for the price of a quarterly mag. Now that’s innovation!