Prakash is an internal communicator with a leading pharmaceutical organization and has over six years of experience managing company communication channels and change management initiatives. In his company he is often invited to provide effective solutions for ongoing internal communication programmes one of which includes a campaign to build pride among employees. Prakash began well and received kudos for a couple of initiatives he championed. However, in a couple of meetings thereafter he had a few next steps of digging up suitable stories but due to his training schedule he was unable to complete his tasks. Prakash forgets to inform his stakeholders about the delay and his manager is unaware of this missed expectation. In an unrelated conversation, a stakeholder shares her dismay with Prakash’s manager and slams his lack of accountability.
Preeti has her hands full with a few events and communication campaigns. The upcoming rewards & recognition programme, the CEO’s favorite, is shaping up well. She is expected to prepare the event plan, craft key messages and align stakeholders on the approach. She is keen to attend an external media conference which she signed up for – although this overlaps with her commitments at work. Preeti decides to go for the conference hoping to catch-up on the deliverables closer to the event date. Stakeholders continue to await her plan and there is confusion on who is running the event. Word reaches the CEO and he appoints another employee to drive the programme.
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Bijoy, the internal communicator is involved in an important organizational change which will affect a couple of large teams in his organization. He has access to sensitive information and some of his peers are aware that he is privy to details that only the CEO and HR Head are aware of. They ask him some casual questions over lunch and manage to glean the names of the teams that will need to be re-ordered in the organization. The word spreads and the gossip mills cause confusion and anxiety. The HR Head is furious about the information leakage.
Faced similar experiences or worked with those who did?
If you are not mindful, like Prakash, Preeti and Bijoy, there are chances of sending messages that reduce our impact as dependable communicators. So, what can make us dependable as communicator?
Think of the ‘other’: Apart from knowing the ropes, the communicator is also expected to be trusted, credible and available when it matters the most. In the Trust Assessment Quotient the authors call out Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy, and Self-Orientation as key elements that help build trust. Their assessment is that soft skills play a larger role in enhancing trustworthiness as compared to just investing in growing credentials and being known as an expert. The one aspect that stands out strongly is our orientation towards ‘self’ – the more it is on the ‘other’ the greater your impact. In a way this alludes to how a service minded approach to stakeholder management can reap rich dividends. Do we see ourselves in others’ ‘shoes’?
Manage yourself: The other aspect of dependability is how you manage yourself. A seasoned leader at an event I attended recently spoke of two ways to know if a communicator is truly growing – a) if the individual is working without supervision and b) knows how to validate his or her own work. I thought that summed up what a dependable communicator must do or aspire to do. Staying on top of your work, investing in personal learning, developing others, contributing to your team’s responsibilities and supporting the organization’s growth are all expectations a communicator will have to manage. Peter Drucker’s article – Managing Oneself is an excellent resource to know just this.
Be consistent: To be trusted and respected the communicator needs to be consistent in thought and action. We believe people who are stable, reassuring and transparent. Also the reasons why we prefer to buy our groceries from the same store or travel on the same airline which leaves and reaches on time.Nothing can be more convincing for a stakeholder when you delivers the goods on time and every time. Or if you keep the stakeholder informed when things aren’t going as per the plan. Consistency comes when you have honed the skills and demonstrated ample proof of getting things done right.
How do you view dependability? What do you do to be dependable?