In the shadows

August 10th, 2014

Having reached the one year milestone in my first in-house role, I’ve found myself reflecting on what I’ve learnt on the other side of the fence. It has been a huge learning curve, going from advising people on how they should run their internal communication projects in an agency to putting it into practice in an organisation of 4,500 people.

Especially as 4,500 people can make a lot of noise. As all IC pros will know, a big part of the job is dealing with day to day communications while trying to make time for the bigger, more strategic communications. And this is only magnified when you’re still trying to understand the sheer variety of work the people in our organisation deliver and how it all fits together.

So one of my reflections was how until recently my role focused on one area of the business and I wasn’t getting exposure to a lot of what else was going on, which I felt put me at a disadvantage.

To rectify this, my director of communications suggested I shadow her for a day to get a different insight into our business as well as her role. It was a fantastic opportunity to attend meetings with our national leadership board and hear how important decisions are made at the highest level, sit in on discussions about projects that will improve the way we do business and the huge amount of work that has gone into getting them off the ground and it also helped me to raise my own profile in the business.

However, beforehand I was concerned about how shadowing someone could be perceived. Having been in the communications industry for nearly eight years, I didn’t want to appear inexperienced or junior to influential people within the business. But actually what I think it showed was that I have a willingness to learn and progress, and you shouldn’t ever get to a stage where you think there is nothing left for you to learn. One of the best ways to do this is to see things through the eyes of someone who has been there and done it and is in a role you one day hope to be in yourself.

I would recommend people from any level to consider it and it can go both ways. We are currently considering pairing people up in our organisation to share social media skills which could mean one of our partners being mentored by a trainee.

Have a think about what skills and expertise you want to gain and find someone inside or outside your organisation to shadow – I’m already thinking about who I will be targeting next!

Categories: DevelopmentHelen DeverellInternal communicationShadowing

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2 responses to “In the shadows”

  1. anna lowman says:

    What a great idea Helen. And it sounds like you have a really supportive director too, who sees the value in this sort of exercise.

  2. Helen, I really enjoyed reading this. It’s a great idea and there should be more of it. Shadowing junior staff would also be an eye-opener.

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“Helen’s passion for her profession shines through very clearly and she manages to combine her deep knowledge of internal communications with a mix of pragmatism and fresh thinking. She is a delight to work with and has a high level of integrity.”

Richard Fitzmaurice, TMF Group