Do you need to be an IC pro to deliver IC tasks?
I’ve not written a blog for a few weeks as I’ve been all over the place recently, all good stuff which I will share soon. But first I want to write about something I read a couple of days ago that’s been niggling me.
On LinkedIn I came across a post from a HR Officer. They were asking for insights and advice from their fellow HR pros on what works for them re: Internal Comms as they were going to revamp an IC strategy. The post then goes on to ask for advice around tactics and what works / what doesn’t in other orgs. They also said they were not interested in paying for advice.
I’ve been around long enough to know that not every organisation puts the same value on internal communications (IC) as others. There are various reasons behind this and it can range from budget constraints to lack of understanding on the benefits the role can bring. But things have started to improve over the years. I’ve seen some fantastic examples of IC being treated as a strategic function and practitioners moving from tactical to strategic advisors. The perception that we’re just a ‘postbox’ is starting to change (slowly) and this is mostly down to fantastic professionals showing leaders what a good IC function should be like.
So when I read that the responsibility to revamp the IC Strategy for this particular organisation was left to the HR Officer it was a bitter pill to swallow. Now let me be clear, I'm in no way putting the whole blame on this HR Officer, they are obviously just following some orders. Partly it's the fault of the industry for not being regulated enough and for allowing anyone to work in the communications arena without having appropriate qualifications. But I do think it's also the responsibility of an individual to admit that they may not have the necessary experience or qualifications to deliver something (this applies to all professions not only IC).
I glanced through this persons profile and they didn’t seem to have any experience in comms or had even shown any interest in the profession yet here there were undertaking quite a meaty task. A strategy, if done properly, that can make a significant impact to an organisation and help deliver business objectives.
I have spent thousands on my development over the years. I have poured over books, research papers and articles until the early morning to improve my learning . I volunteer, for free, my time to be the Chair of the CIPR inside group, I speak at various conferences to share best practice and I mentor other communicators to be the best they can be. I have a masters in Strategic Marketing, a diploma in Internal Communications, I’m a Fellow of CIPR and I’m a chartered practitioner. I have spent 15 years learning and developing so I can continue to be the best I possibly can be in my profession. I am not unique in this. I know 100s of amazing IC people who have followed a similar journey. So forgive me if I find it a little insulting that this organisation felt it was appropriate to task someone who has no experience or qualifications to develop an important strategy.
I know some of you might be thinking, ‘well at least they asked for advice’. That’s true they did, but not from IC professionals but from fellow HR peers. Why they didn’t ask the 1000s of IC practitioners is beyond me and specifically saying they don’t want to pay for advice was also a bit grating.
Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the platforms we now have where we can share advice freely and help others out. I would be lost without some of the people I met through these channels and the advice they have shared. Those of you who know me also know that I share my time freely and offer advice where I can.
However, the advice you get on these platforms will always be fairly generic as it’s impossible to give sound advice with limited information shared on twitter or LinkedIn. To truly understand the full task at hand it takes a bit of effort discussing the issue, which takes time and more than a few paragraphs on a social media platform. You will of course meet some amazing people who will give you many hours as they want to support, especially in IC. We’re a supportive bunch and we will do anything to help others. But if you’re getting paid to deliver something, is it then fair for you to ask for free advice on a subject you’re not qualified to do?
So before I go on for another four paragraphs, this is a personal plea to my fellow peers in other disciplines and to senior business leaders. When you’re asked or you’re asking someone to write an IC strategy and they are not experienced / qualified to deliver this please think about bringing on board an experienced individual or hand over to a specialist. You will reap the benefits and save issues in the long run, I can almost guarantee that!