Successful Employee Communications by Liam Fitzpatrick and Sue Dewhurst. – #ICBookClub review

16 August 2019, 

This #ICBookClub we discussed the newly published Successful Employee Communications by Liam Fitzpatrick and Sue Dewhurst. It's a practitioner's guide to tools, models and best practice for internal communication. It covers a range of topics including audits, setting objectives, understanding your audiences, messaging, channels, line managers, change and measurement. Here are some of the highlights from the #ICBookClub conversation:

What do we mean by internal communication? 

In the very first chapter, Liam and Sue set out what their definition of internal communication is within the context of their book. It was a useful reminder that there isn't always clarity about what we mean by internal communication, even between internal communicators, which can lead to misunderstandings.

It’s essential that internal communicators ensure that they have a shared understanding with their stakeholders to aid the planning and delivery of projects.
Establishing collaborative relationships
We often talk about the need to think strategically and this book encourages internal communicators to build collaborative relationships that involve coming into any conversation armed with questions and suggestions rather than simply be an order taker. Sue's ARROW model sets out a series of questions that internal communicators can use as a framework to facilitate their conversations, especially with senior stakeholders, ensuring they elicit useful insight which will inform decision making.
It’s broken into key areas you need to consider:
Who and when
A big part of our role is ensuring that employees understand key messages. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. The messaging chapter of the book looks at ‘how people’s fundamental opinions about the world shape how they will react to information and events’.
The Frame, Narrative and Message model addresses this by helping communicators think through what employees’ current perceptions and beliefs are and if you need to shift them, how you can tell a story to bring the information to life and what the specific messages are that you want employees to act on. If you just communicate the messages without the other two elements you could find that they don’t land well as you haven’t understood the wider context.
The need for data and evidence

The book emphasised the need for internal communicators to gather data and evidence, especially when working with leaders, to be seen as strategic and credible. This really resonated with #ICBookClub participants:
“All too often people obsess over numbers and fall down a rabbit hole of data and analytics. As the book says, you have to own your data and explain it in a way that leaders will actually take notice and take something from.” @wefoxster

Author, Liam Fitzpatrick added to this point:
“I think the mistake we make is thinking that senior leaders care about visitors or clicks. They want to know how the organisation is improving. Too often we lose sight of that…” @LiamFitz

Successful Employee Communications is a comprehensive guide that will help internal communicators be effective in their roles. It’s packed full of helpful models as well as case studies from companies such as AXA, Vodafone, HSBC, Zurich, Aviva and many more. This is a book that you’ll want to have within easy reach.

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