Internal Comms: where there's a will there's (hopefully) a way: October 2022
New data published by the CIPR’s Inside Group recently and discussed in a webinar this month shines a light on internal communications challenges when it comes to driving effective organisational change.
The 'Effective line manager communications' report suggests that there is a gulf between the expectations of organisations when it comes to setting out change agendas and the tools and expertise those organisations are equipped with and invest in to try to meet those objectives.
Employee engagement is a term that has become increasingly higher profile over recent years, in part as a result of the challenges of home and remote working patterns. It’s also against the backdrop of the heightened importance organisations are attaching to diversity and inclusion and the benefits of employee wellbeing as they seek to attract and retain the best talent.
But noble as these objectives might be, this new report suggests firms are falling short in delivering - in part because of the lack of investment in their internal comms function.
Despite the fact that nearly three-quarters of respondents to the survey indicated that communication is valued as a leadership skill, only 15% said that communication training for managers was mandatory in their organisations. 51% said that training was voluntary.
Also concerning is that more than half (56%) said they don’t have access to data that could inform their communications approach. There’s also a failure to collaborate between internal comms and HR teams in 20% of cases, when collaboration between the two should – obviously it seems - lead to better joined up results.
These are broad findings around internal communications – so why is this important to organisations operating in the international financial services space?
First, because they are really in the thick of the ESG/sustainability paradigm.
Cross border financial flows – whether in the private wealth, funds or corporate space – are in the spotlight and increasingly have to be seen at the very least to be acknowledging the context of sustainability they exist in.
But that won’t work if it’s an external only message. External change has to be driven from the inside out. I’ve said for a while that old approaches to CSR are broken. There’s only so much a few volunteer days and team outings to paint walls and plant trees can do. If an organisation wants to effectively make fundamental change in the supply chain they’re in, then the values they aspire to externally have to be more deeply embedded internally too.
And key to that is measurement – evidencing why you are doing what you are doing and how you are performing, both internally and externally. If you don’t have the data, the internal comms agenda is going to struggle, and organisational change is going to more difficult to deliver.
It was an issue that was brought up last month at Guernsey’s Sustainable Finance Week – sustainability as a concept has to be measured in terms that are meaningful and understandable to all stakeholders. That applies internally just as much as externally - what are our sustainability goals, what is our carbon footprint?
If any organisation is to have an impact, it has to start from the inside; it has to have joined-up vision and it has to have buy in across teams and from the top.
In the IFC world, and in particular in the service provider market, the importance of internal comms is being exacerbated by the intense consolidation we are seeing.
The volume of M&A activity in this space has been rife in recent years – there have been as estimated 34 acquisitions in the fund admin market alone in the past 2 years - with the effect that firms in the trust, corporate and fund admin space that used to have a handful of offices and perhaps a couple of hundred employees now find themselves with a global network of offices with several thousand staff.
Bringing those disparate and diverse teams together, aligned with and champions of a shared cause, is a real challenge. Integrating teams into a shared mindset is vital and internal comms must be central to that.
As this new data shows, increasingly there is understanding that internal comms is critical to driving strategic aims of an organization – because ultimately, those people can be the very best advocates (or otherwise) of that organization.
But making that investment in resource, frameworks and data is critical – the good news is it’s something we’re seeing being played out more and more in the international financial services space.