Monday, December 01, 2008

Is it always the communicator's fault?

This seems to be becoming my Monday morning habit now - warm up for the working week with a blog entry. Actually, it's a habit I'll aim to break swiftly. However, the pace of work did pick up last week meaning I hadn't got too much time to stop and take stock of what was going on around me.

One thing I got caught up in towards the end of the week was the debate around CiB's proposed change of name - part of the package for the organisation to focus ever more on internal communication and, eventually, reach the status of chartered Institute.

Some freelancers are getting irate on two fronts. One, that the CiB awards are now focused only on IC categories, and two, that they haven't been made aware of the name change proposal.

On the first point, I'm fully in favour of CiB tightening its criteria, sharpening its focus and making a concrete move to grab the internal comms high ground. It's a brave move and one that probably should have taken place years ago. But all credit to the Board who are making it happen now. More power to them.

I found myself - from a position of ordinary member without office - defending them on the second point as six or eight freelancers chipped in that they hadn't heard about the name change.

From what I can tell, it's a proposed change that will be voted on in May. It has been actively discussed for almost two years, and has featured in Communicators, the chairman's blog, Council papers and on the CiB website. Yet this was clearly seen as not enough.

One member said: "For an organisation that aspires to be the Institute of Internal Communications this is really a very poor example of communication. Members should not have to read a chairman's blog or delve through the website to know what is being planned. When internal comms fail it is the fault of the communicators not the audience."

And thereby lies the rub with volunteer-run member organisations. They can't be a one way street. For one thing here we're talking about the early stages of a significant shift that's designed to put CiB at the heart of the internal communication debate. But the key communication campaign was never set to start until the new year, so we're all getting our shots off early on this one anyway.

Second, in a volunteer-run member organisation members should have to do a little work to ensure they're connected with what's going on - especially if they are communicators themselves. Surely we should be interested enough in the organisation to take the time to read what's sent out? Surely we should be helping to set the agenda not meekly following it - or rumbling on discontentedly when it doesn't fit our personal circumstances?

Sometimes I despair.

Communication is a two-way relationship. However good the communication, there will always be some who choose not to listen.

It seems we can take the horses to water, but we can't make them walk on it.

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