I have set up Internal Communications functions at my last three companies from a standing start. Three companies that had a notion they needed to improve staff communication. Three companies that had not done this kind of thing before. Three companies that knew they had to do something and trusted me to show them how.
The early days are littered with quick wins and euphoric moments as you witness the impact on people of having an intranet for the first time. They embrace the new world of greater transparency, exposure, and awareness. They make better decisions. They pull in the same direction. They have a greater understanding of what the company expects from them and they have a greater emotional commitment to meeting these expectations.
Internal Communications is one of those endeavours that creates organisational value by stealth. Every day you chip away at the barriers to enriching the work experience of your colleagues. Slowly but surely you begin to adjust expectations and you create new norms – and as time passes some of your esteemed colleagues inevitably start to forget about the barren days of years gone by, when they were grateful for any scraps of information that fell off the top table.
It’s then that you may feel that the ‘quick wins and euphoric moments’ become less frequent; and it’s then that an inverse relationship between effort and reward begins to emerge. It becomes increasingly apparent that the harder you try, the more problems you bring down on yourself.
In every workplace across the globe there will be those who subscribe to the fact that the route to a comfortable and less distracted workplace existence is to do less.
If you hand out free donuts, there will always be someone who complains they don’t have enough sugar. I’ve worked with plenty of people over the years who would say if you didn’t hand them out in the first place, nobody could complain they were not sweet enough.
Don’t let inertia get in the way of your ambition. Forget about “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” – that just points to a complacency and arrogance that will be your downfall. Treat your moaning minnies as an opportunity not a threat, and embrace the challenge of converting them from the dark side – and always consider the possibility that they may be right. Maybe those donuts do need a bit more sugar!
Above all, keep ruffling those feathers and pushing those boundaries – you’ll be surprised how many more winning and euphoric moments are still out there waiting for you to grab them.