September 4th, 2017
At the Making it Count conference in November, the CIPR Inside committee will be revealing the results of their research into CEOs and where they see the value of internal communication. As a committee member, I’m excited to be able to give you a sneak peek of what we discovered…
For as long as I’ve worked in the internal communications industry, practitioners have been talking about having a seat at the top table. Discussions I’ve been a part of have intrinsically linked this seat, or lack thereof, to the perception businesses have of internal communication and the value it adds. Conferences have dedicated sessions to how we get that seat and others have argued that you don’t wait to be offered a seat but bring your own and claim that space.
Against the backdrop of these conversations, we have slowly started to evolve into a strategic function in the eyes of our CEOs and leadership teams, but there’s still a way to go. So, what do CEOs actually think about the value internal communication can add to their businesses, and do they foresee a day when internal communications join them at the top table?
Earlier this year the CIPR Inside committee conducted research into this by interviewing CEOs and surveying internal communication practitioners. As a member of that committee, I’ve had the opportunity to get involved and, along with Trudy Lewis and our Chair Jenni Field, have been analysing the results.
The full results will be revealed in the keynote at our annual conference in November, and then the rest of the day will be structured around the key themes, with structured sessions followed by an unconference format in the afternoon. However, I’m excited to share a few of the highlights with you here:
Internal communication is more than a function
The general opinion across the CEOs we interviewed is that internal communication permeates into all areas of the business and is much bigger than the team that bears its name. An encouraging view, especially as many of them also ranked it highly in terms of importance to business success. But what does this mean for our seat at the table if CEOs think internal communication should be part of the way things are done rather than a function in itself?
Culture is key
Many of the CEOs positively linked internal communication with culture, and felt that we directly impacted it. However, when discussing how we can do this, many of the examples given were tactical suggesting there still may be a gap in understanding around the strategic value we can add.
Defining internal communication
When we asked survey respondents how they’d define internal communication they gave a wide variety of definitions, with some using the term internal communication interchangeably with engagement. An interesting outcome that could suggest that if we as an industry aren’t clearly and consistently articulating our reason for being, it might not be surprising that CEOs are unable to as well.
Driving financial performance
Unsurprisingly, the majority of survey respondents believed that internal communication could drive financial performance but CEOs also thought there was link between engaged employees – an output of good internal communication – and the bottom line. Although several made the point that measuring this is an ongoing challenge, it is positive that CEOs do think we play an integral part in financial success.
This is just a sneak peek into what our research uncovered so there’s lots more for us to get our teeth into and discuss at the conference. While some of the results confirm what we’ve suspected for some time, it gives us the solid evidence to address the issues in a way we haven’t been able to before. But that’s not to say there weren’t a few surprises from both CEOs and IC practitioners.
As a committee, we hope this piece of research is the beginning of an important conversation between internal communicators and CEOS and will help us to shift the industry into a more strategic position in the eyes of the businesses we work for. We hope many of you will come along to the conference to be a part of that discussion
Making it Count takes place on 1 November at the Hilton Wembley. The early bird offer finished on 18 September so get your ticket now: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/making-your-internal-communications-count-annual-internal-communication-conference-tickets-35650225785