Do we really need a seat at the table to make a difference?

Published: 17 June 2019

Earlier this week, I took part in #commschat which was all about how IC plays a part in managing reputation in an organisation. It was a great conversation and if you’ve never taken part then I urge you to check it out (every Monday at 8.00 p.m. via @commschat).

During the chat a point was raised about IC having a seat at the table. This topic of conversation has been part of my IC life ever since I started working in the field. I’ve held many conversations with lots of peers about how they could transform the organisation if they had a place at the table rather than their ideas being ignored or being treated like someone who ‘just writes newsletters.’ I completely agree that having a voice or a seat at the table could definitely change the way some senior bods saw IC but I also believe that this shouldn’t really stop us delivering and making a difference.

For a few years I was part of the gang that spoke about the unfairness of not having a seat at the table and how we were poor relations to PR/Marketing and External Affairs. I moaned about being an after-thought and some of my ideas not being taken seriously at senior level. However, after a particularly challenging day at work I decided to change my mind-set. Rather than sit in the corner staring at my emails I started to make small changes – first thing I did was to leave my desk. I went and spoke to people about their roles and what they did. I listened to them and made connections. I invited myself to team meetings and shared ideas when they were facing some tough decisions. I basically became a ‘fountain of knowledge’ as some of my colleagues used to call me. I made sure I understood the organisation inside out and who the key influencers were, I kept my ear to the ground and tried to sense the general feeling of the organisation. It’s not an easy task and some people will be reluctant to let you in but perseverance will pay off in the end.

Understanding the culture and the people of your organisation is something your senior leaders will thank you for. Not only does it help you get a sense of what is happening across the site but it allows you to grow into a trusted advisor. In my opinion if you want to make significant changes you need to be able to build trust with colleagues, leaders and your peers. Going in like a bull in a china shop is not going to do you any favours and even if an idea worked brilliantly in the last organisation it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work in the next one.

It will not always be plain sailing – there will always be challenges along the way but one of the great things about Internal Comms peeps is that we tend to be fairly resilient and we rarely give up.

So don’t worry too much about not having a seat at the table – remember actions speak much louder than words.

What do you think? Do you agree or do you think having a seat at the table is crucial if we’re to make a big difference?

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