Liam Fitzpatrick and Sue Dewhurst have been conducting interviews recently through their company to identify the core competencies necessary to be a great internal communicator.
According to Liam, writing on the IABC website, there's a consensus that there are 12 core competencies for internal communicators - it's a sort of palette from which you can mix and match to create your ideal profile.
The competencies Liam and Sue have identified are:
*Innovation & Creativity - Looking for new ways of working, exploring best practice and delivering original and imaginative approaches to communication problems.
*Business Focus - Having a clear understanding of the business issues and using communication to help solve organisational problems and achieve organisational objectives.
*Vision and Standards - Defining or applying a consistent approach to communication and maintaining professional and ethical standards.
*Cross functional awareness - Understanding the different contributions from other disciplines and working with colleagues from across the organisation to achieve better results
* Developing other communicators - Helping other communicators build their communications competence and develop their career
* Building effective relationships - Developing and maintaining relationships that inspire trust and respect. - Building a network and being able to influence others to make things happen.
* Consulting and coaching - Recommending appropriate solutions to customers; helping others to make informed decisions; building people’s communications competence
* Planning - Planning communications programmes and operations, evaluating results.
* Craft skills - Using and developing the right mix of practical communication abilities to hold the confidence of peers and colleagues
* Specialist - Having specific subject matter expertise in a specialist area (this is meant to cover the work of people who are ultra specialist list the full-time conference organiser or the webs specialists who do nothing else)
* Listening - Conducting research and managing mechanisms for gathering feedback and employee reaction
* Making it happen - Turning plans into successfully implemented actions
Now there's nothing earth-shattering here, but it's interesting stuff and hard to argue with. It points to the fact that communicators need to be all-rounders - with the right mix of strategic knowledge and craft skills. That's not always possible in an individual, but their research has probably thrown up a blue print for creating an effective internal communication team.
I don't know if Liam's listed the competencies in order of priority - some of the hoary old dinosaurs I've worked with in the past would balk at craft skills emerging so low on the list - but he and Sue have come up with a list showing how far internal communications has moved even in the noughties. We have to be fully functional business managers to be effective in IC today - and anyone who thinks the role is corporate journalism is blind to probably four fifths of the role.
The only challenge I'd throw out to Sue and Liam is: 'Do we really want competent communicators? Competence sounds like 'just-good-enough' for me. If I was a client, I'd want great - and wouldn't settle for anything less than good. Competent sounds less than good.
So, from the little I've seen, great research and I'm sure it will bring them more work......I'd just question the name of the company!