You need to be able to keep success and self-worth separated.
For two reasons.
First, because success is the outcome of many inputs, most of which out of our control. Luck, for example, plays a huge role. Others do as well, whether we recognize their contribution or not.
Secondly, because we need to be ready to maintain the same distance when success turns into failure. We are not worst human beings (or writers, fathers, marketers) merely because we are failing.
Understanding that success is not a reflection of how good we are keeps us grounded and maintains our horizon wide open. Ready to appreciate the complexity of things and continue learn from it.
Free of hubris.
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.
Can you argue against your beliefs?
Can you make the effort to see the world from an opposite perspective, to scrutinize what you think is true, to approach the same problem from radically different angles?
And come back on the other side with a changed mindset?
If so, nothing will stop you.
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.
In 2012, Google launched a brilliant campaign in view of SXSW.
Project Re:Brief wanted to give old school admen, creators of iconic ads (such as this, and this, and this), modern tools to see how their campaigns would look like on the web.
It is a wonderful idea, and the campaign got very good numbers. Google also made a documentary out of this project.
A few days after the launch, one of the people responsible for the campaign was presenting the social media results to the rest of the team. Their boss, perhaps a bit harshly, asked an important question (the full story can be heard here):
Does it matter?
The point is, Google can certainly spend time and resources tracking and reporting on things that do not have an impact on their mission, vision, numbers.
But can you?