ICology: Unedited internal communication lies

Ep 36, What is the biggest lie internal communications tells itself?

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Something Else is a monthly video series where ICology host Chuck Gose asks the questions and communicators provide the video answers. Watch the edited video

But here on the podcast, you get the unedited, uncut version of the answers submitted. In this month's episode, guests include:

  • Paul Barton, Paul Barton Communications
  • Brian Moore, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Priya Bates, Inner Strength Communications
  • Kristin Hancock, The College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba
  • Rachel Miller, All Things IC
  • Heather Pommernelle, Talent Driven Value, LLC
  • Rocky Walls, 12 Stars Media
  • Daron Aldridge, Cook Children's Heatlh Care

Episode Transcript

Chuck: This is ICology. It's a podcast about interesting people doing interesting things in the world of internal communications. In this episode we have Something Else. No, really. It's literally Something Else. If internal coms is your passion, this is your podcast. Listen in. Hello. I'm Chuck Gose, the host of ICology. 

As I mentioned on a few previous episodes, I've set a new video series called Something Else. I ask the questions and communicators provide the answers. For November I asked, what's the biggest lie internal communications tells itself? I got some great answers from eight communicators from around the world. You can check out the video at learnicology.com/somethingelse to see their answers. Since it is a video, we had to do some trimming, so what to do with the rest of the great content? Well, here on the ICology podcast you get to hear the full unedited, uncut answers. Remember, the question is, what's the biggest lie internal communications tells itself? First up is the fabulous Rachel Miller from All Things IC, and the equally fabulous Brian Moore from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Rachel: Hi, Chuck. Rachel Miller here of All Things IC, communication consultancy. I'm here in the UK. Love the idea of Something Else and I thought I would contribute. The question you asked this month is, what is the biggest lie that internal communication tells itself? I believe the biggest lie or the biggest problem that we have in internal communication right now is that people understand measurement. I don't think that's the case. I think that's a lie. I think that many internal communicators are having to blaster their way through, when it comes to conversations with stakeholder particularly about measurement.

Measurement isn't a dark art. There are many modules, many ideas, many theories, many practical things you can do to help you measure. I think the lie that internal communications tells itself is that people know how to do this. I don't believe they do. I see that from conversations with clients, I see that from masterclasses that I've been running for internal coms pros, and also from judging lots of industry awards. When it comes to the measurement section particularly, it's so weak. I think there's a lie there, there's a falseness there from internal communicators that we know how to do this stuff. Actually, for many people, they don't know how to do it. I see that in the measurement section on awards. The entry says, a quote from George Bernard Shaw for example, saying, "Everybody loved what we did." No, that's not measurement. It needs to go further than that.

I don't believe that many internal communicators know the difference between outputs and outcomes, for example. The lie for me is that people know how to do measurement. I'd love to be proved wrong, but for me, certainly, from such terms on my blog, on conversations that I have with clients, contacts and peers, is that the lie is people don't really understand measurement, but I've got lots of advice on that, so do have a look at my blog if you want to understand about measurement. I can help you bust the myth and get to the truth. Thanks, Chuck. Till next month. Bye.

Brian : Hi, everyone. I'm Brian Moore, director of internal communications at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a global learning company based here in Boston. I love the new ICology series, Something Else. Today Chuck Gose is asking, what's the biggest lie that internal communications tells itself? What I would submit is the biggest lie is that our materials, internal communication's communications, if you will; our podcasts, our videos, our messaging in the written word or our live events are the most influential on the most important things to driving culture in our companies. I think that's the biggest lie.

What I think is the answer is that the biggest driver of culture change in a company are the employees themselves. It's that peer to peer credibility and it's what employees hear from their managers, what they see and what they feel from those all around them. It's not necessarily that post to our intranet. It's not that video that we send. It's not the email. It's certainly not the email. It's, how can we get in the hearts and minds of our managers and our employees so that they're influencing the people around them? That is the most powerful thing to culture change in an organization, not what we send from the internal communications desk.

Chuck: Great lies from those two that I'm sure a lot of communicators are guilty of telling. Coming up are lies from Heather Pommernelle and Daron Aldridge. Heather is a communications consultant with Talent Driven Value and Daron is an internal communicator with Cook Children's Health Care system in Dallas.

Heather: Hi, Chuck. Heather Pommernelle here. Internal communications, New York City area. Nice to meet you in Columbus. I wanted to respond to your request for the biggest lie that internal communicators tell themselves. For myself, I think that one of the hardest ones to overcome was the thought and the lie, really, that my craft, the communications, however beautiful I made it, videos, images, whatever I did, that alone was going to help change behavior. I guess help, yes, maybe, but if other things weren't in alignment, then it wouldn't really do much good. It took a while, especially when I was new to communications. It wasn't something I was brave enough to do.

But these days, looking around at the full employee’s experience, the onboarding, even before onboarding, recruitment side, through the process even as a leader, how employees are treated, and the processes and actions and word choices that they see around, those things are good to take to assess against what are we trying to promote and what is the way that we want it to be, what are we comfortable with, and addressing areas that need to change regardless who is responsible for them. Politely, of course, but importantly. Yes, that's my biggest lie, is that we can do it ourselves when actually it's a team effort. Thanks, Chuck.

Daron: Hi. This is Daron Aldridge from Cook Children's Health Care system. I think that the biggest lie that we tell ourselves as internal communicators is that we're a team of only two or three or five, when in all actuality we have an entire employee base that could serve as unofficial members of our internal communications team. We just need to make sure that we recruit and empower them to get our message out there because they'll be able to do into in a way that we could never imagine. I'd like to thank Elisabeth Wang from Piedmont Healthcare, who recently reminded me of this opportunity that's in front of us. Thank you.

Chuck : Next, we go up North to polar bear country to hear from past guest Kristin Hancock. She is with the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba and provides a lie that is very near and dear to my heart.

Kristin: Hello, ICology. I'm Kristin Hancock with the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba in chilly Canada today. I think the biggest lie that we tell ourselves in internal communications is that employee engagement is entirely measurable. I think there are aspects of it that we can measure and we should measure, but ultimately employee engagement is a feeling and we're doing us a disservice if we think that we can actually quantify that.

Chuck : The next two lies are from industry veterans and longtime members of the IABC community and also past guests of ICology. Paul Barton is with Paul Barton Communications and Priya Bates is with Inner Strength Communications. Both bring a ton of knowledge for the IC profession and I'm sure have heard their fair share of lies over the years.

Paul: I'm Paul Barton of Paul Barton Communications. When I heard this question, it reminded me of the George Bernard Shaw quote that says, "The single biggest problem with communications is the illusion that it's taken place." I think that's absolutely what we need to guard against as internal communications professionals. We sometimes get so focused on sending messages out that I think we lose sight of whether those messages are actually getting through or not. It's not that messages aren't going out. We're sending tons of information out to employees. In fact, employees are drowning in information. The problem is that they're thirsting for contacts, for clarity, for purpose and understanding. That's where our focus and our role should be.

Priya: Hello, everyone. It's Priya Bates from Inner Strength Communication in Toronto, Canada. I love this question, what is the biggest lie internal communicators tell themselves? I think the biggest lie is that internal communicators deserve a seat the decision making table. The truth is, they earn a seat at the table through strategic communication planning, understanding the business and linking what they do to measurable results. Without that, they'll never get there.

Chuck: The final lie I save for Rocky Walls, CEO of 12 Stars Media. You would like to think I saved the best for last, but this is really my chance to thank him and his team for supporting Something Else. Candidio, their web video production software enabled me easily to collect all the content and create the finished version of this month's episode. Here's Rocky lie.

Rocky: Originally I was going to say that the biggest lie internal coms tells itself is that they don't have enough time, but the truth is, you don't have enough time and I think the biggest lie internal coms pros tell themselves is that they can do everything. I see a lot of internal coms professionals trying to take on massive projects that really aren't in their job description or massive amounts of really small projects and not being able to do any of them really, really well. The best internal coms pros I know pick projects very carefully, projects that are going to make an impact, and they do those really, really well, and say no to everything else.

Chuck: I truly want to thank each of this month's contributors for sharing what they think is the biggest lie internal coms tells itself. Stay tuned for next month's Something Else question, which might have a bit of a holiday theme to it. Visit learnicology.com to catch up on our episodes. Get to know guests better, read blog posts, check out events and all the episode transcriptions are there as well. Please follow ICology on Twitter, @LearnICology, to pick up show announcements as well as other IC news. If you're not already a subscriber, listen to ICology on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. If you like what you hear, it'd be great if you could take the time to leave a review. If internal communications is your passion, ICology is your podcast. Thanks for listening in.