Did you know that Glow’s Business Development Manager, Laura Hawtin, is an Internal Communications professional? Prior to joining us at The Glow Studio, she spent 10 years working in FTSE 100s as a senior internal communications professional.
Her skills and knowledge are often called upon by Glow’s clients and can make us all look at things differently, especially from an internal communications point of view. Laura is always encouraging companies to value their employees and to consider them in any marketing communication strategies and campaigns.
We asked Laura:
Internal Comms is the communication of key messages and information to a company’s employees, across all levels, regardless of seniority.
I’ve always been interested in communications; how you can most effectively deliver a message, how you can engage with people to build a team and drive action. What I really enjoy is working on large change programmes, advising, devising and implementing change communication plans for Business Change initiatives. Whether that’s the introduction of new internal systems, new technology and equipment that requires training, or organisational restructures, and large redundancy programmes (never something easy to communicate, but done in the right way, can make it so much better for both employees and employers.)
Something I feel very passionately about is that employees should be considered a company’s most valuable asset, and you should treat your employees as well as you treat your clients. While it may feel cliched, building mutual trust and respect between employees and employers, being open and honest when it comes to communicating both good and bad news, and ensuring those messages are timely, consistent and delivered effectively, can create positive employee engagement. I often use the analogy of what you’d imagine an employee to say if questioned about the company they work for if they’re speaking to a friend or are down the pub having a chat. If an employee has nothing positive to say about you, this is not a good advert for your company. So, consider employees as ambassadors for your brand, to potential clients/customers, suppliers and potential new recruits.
Just because you’ve grouped employees into different audience segments, does not mean that they’ll all want to receive messages in the same way. It’s just a fact of life that people have different preferences; some employees will prefer something to read, both online and in print, others may want a face-to-face meeting for the message to be delivered, others may like an email, a podcast, or a letter sent to their home address.
It’s also important to acknowledge that, often, putting a message out there, just once, isn’t enough. Think about what action you want employees to take. It can often be boiled down to whether the message or communication is there to inform, instruct, or engage. If you really want people to engage, a short, sharp email may not do the job.
I always think it’s the easy option to deliver the good news face-to-face, and to hide behind words on a page for bad news. I get it! It’s awful to have to deliver bad news, but it really can make a huge difference to employees if leaders take the time to meet with them, delivering the more negative messages in person.
It’s also vital that once a negative message has been delivered, that employees are given the chance to ask questions, to vent, and to recalibrate, if necessary.
Well, this is more about the wider issue of employee engagement and something that involved me personally.
Something that will always stick with me was working as part of the bid team for a large bid, and having been selected as one of three potential winning bids, myself and the rest of the bid team had travelled to the other end of the country for the announcement of the preferred bidder. With everything crossed, we were all devasted to hear that our bid had not been successful, however our spirits were lifted when the CEO appeared a couple of hours later and his words really resonated with me, and I remember them even 12 years later (subject to a bit of artistic licence):
“If we’d won, I would’ve congratulated you by phone, but I knew that if we weren’t successful, I just had to get a flight up here to come and see you guys in person, to tell you what a fantastic job you’ve all done and that I couldn’t fault a thing”.
That gesture, by a very busy CEO, who probably only spent 10 minutes with us, changed what was a day that had felt like kick in the stomach, to a day of feeling valued as a team, as employees. Knowing that all the effort we’d put in, the long nights, the attention to detail, the time spent away from our families was appreciated and recognised.
Even the fact that he jumped in a helicopter for a quick journey back to London while we faced a six-hour train ride home didn’t phase us. The gesture was heartfelt and welcomed by us all.
Why not read our ‘Tips to improve your internal communications‘ blog?
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