Public Service Announcements

When companies hire or appoint a person in charge of internal communication, what they often seek is somebody who understands Public Service Announcements.

This person ends up being a sounding board – or setting up a sounding board – for decisions that management is too lazy to communicate or does not know how to communicate. All-hands-on-deck meetings, intranets, committees, chats and channels are all manifestations of a role that slowly turns into a PR service for upper management: let’s give executives a way to share their views and opinions with everyone.

Communication is two-way, though.

And so, when is the last time your company’s all-hands has sparked an interesting discussion? When is the last time that a post shared on the intranet has led to the improvement of a process, to an idea for a new product? When has a conversation on a public channel been effective at changing the way you look at problems?

Communication is two-way. And it happens whether you are prepared for it or not.

So, if you are about to be appointed as the new internal communication manager, give this some thoughts. How can I start an actual conversation on an interesting topic? How can I make sure that ideas emerge and get discussed? How can I affect the culture, so that communication is no longer a role, but the way we do things around here?

The role is going to feel much more exciting right away.

The opposite of command

In terms of management, the opposite of command is not freedom.

Freedom is an excuse beyond which many bad managers take cover. You are free to choose what you learn. You are free to come to the office or not. You are free to talk to whoever you feel like talking to.

Freedom, for most of us at least, is also a given. You are not differentiating your organisation by allowing me to learn, move, talk.

So, the opposite of command is not freedom.

The opposite of command is care.

I care, and that’s why we should talk about your strengths, ambitions, the opportunities we offer, the opportunities the market offers. I care and I will help you get there.

I care, and that’s why I have researched the topic and found that this is the most effective way to coordinate hybrid work. I care and I will guarantee your safety (physical and mental) and that of your colleagues.

I care, and that’s why I have prepared a list of people you should talk to regarding this project. I care and I will be with you as you seek buy-in to move this forward.

Care is what people seek. Care is what retains talent. Care is the differentiator.

Not exciting anymore

Three reasons why the new tool, system, process, structure rolled out in your organization is no longer as exciting as it initially seemed.

  1. The people making the decision are the not the ones impacted by the decision. Very often, the people impacted by the decision are not even consulted in the decision-making phase. Assumptions and second guessing are key criteria.
  2. There was a tacit expectation that the tool, system, process would have been welcomed by everybody as a cure for all that is bad. In other words, nobody really gave change management a thought – and if number 1 is true, you are most likely already drifting into number 2.
  3. There is no agreement on accountability and how success is going to be measured. People will do everything to avoid saying: “we failed (and we will not fail again)”. Flawed solutions will be around for years, until a new change can be sold internally. Putting the process back at number 1.

Used to boredom

The positive consequence of getting used to boredom is that you allow time for things to happen.

You do not check every other day if something is happening, you do not ask for a new report, a new deadline, a new update, you do not seek daily rewards, you do not rush to change the inputs hoping for a faster outcome.

You have a plan and you stick to it.

You’ll let me know if the plan changes.