This blog is presented by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.
A new global report produced by IC Kollectif reviews how business leaders perceive internal communication, looks closely at the reality of the practice inside companies and explores how IC professionals can better position themselves as trusted advisors and key business enablers.
The Next Level draws on interviews with 33 in-house communication professionals and executives representing 20 industries from 25 countries across all continents, contributions from several teachers and researchers, the results of a global open-ended survey question, testimonials from C-suite members, and a review of published surveys and research reports.
Through recent findings and new testimonials, we analyze whether and why CEOs value internal communication. The question is initially reviewed from the perspective of business leaders and in a second step, from the perspective of practitioners with respect to what extent they actually believe that their senior leaders value the practice and their work.
While a number of studies suggest that CEOs recognize that IC influences business outcomes and organizational change, some findings also show that they often see the value of internal communication first and foremost to influence the reputation and the brand of the organization.
Comparing the results across all recent surveys, we see gaps between what communication professionals believe and what senior executives perceive. This suggests that until there is a strong line of sight between IC and business results, internal communication will continue to be primarily seen as a support function not a management function. This said, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is clear that many communications leads who contributed to this report have the knowledge and are doing what it takes. Their senior management recognize the business value of good IC.
The Reality on the Ground
In-house practitioners and executives talked openly about what IC looks like in their world. They shared some of the mindsets, behaviours, and practices in place, and provided examples of how internal communication aims to support the corporate strategy, how they help business leaders understand the value of IC and demonstrate its impact on organizational goals.
Blurred Lines but Opportunities
The internal and external functions may be converging, but both disciplines appear to remain distinct for now. Among the findings, results addressed the need for tighter alignment between internal and external communication, the differences between internal and external audiences and the need for organizations to communicate directly and thoroughly with their employees. The role of employees as advocates for their organizations’ brands and products is also more and more recognized and encouraged.
State, Trends and Practices
The reality of IC inside companies is also unveiled through the current status and trends of internal communication in European companies, and in a two-part research project identifying best-in-class practices for employee communication and the gap between the knowledge and what the majority of IC professionals report to be practicing.
The Contribution of IC
Building on these insights and results, the report attempts to demonstrate how practitioners can go beyond trying to explain what they do and actually define their contributions that help their organization succeed. Senior communication professionals, C-suite members and teachers advocate business acumen as a prerequisite to be recognized as a trusted advisor by senior management. In line with this, the report expands on the new Global Capability Framework that helps further define the contribution of practitioners. It also includes new and essential research-based resources such as frameworks for strategy and value creation, as well as standards to measure IC.
The report will be of interest for both practitioners who are already leading the way and to those still struggling for a license to operate and be perceived as strategic advisors.
The Next Level is free of charge and can be downloaded on the IC Kollectif’s website.
Lise Michaud is the Founder of IC Kollectif, an independent non-profit based in Montreal and the only global organization dedicated to internal communication. IC Kollectif shares knowledge, insights and research from around the world on the practice of IC with communication professionals in more than 160 countries.