The 10 Internal Communications skills every practitioner needs

Tue, Jul 2, '19 •

The 10 Internal Communications skills every practitioner needs

We talk a lot about highfalutin concepts in the Happeo blog, but let’s take things down to basics for a moment. If we’re focusing on Internal Communications and the people who work in the profession, what kind of people are we talking about? What skills do you need to be an Internal Communications specialist? Here are five soft and five hard Internal Communications skills to brush up on.

5 soft skills in demand for Internal Communications jobs

Empathy

What does it mean?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person or group of people — to put yourself in their shoes and see the world through their eyes.

Why is it important in Internal Communications?

The Internal Communications specialist is there to act as a bridge between the business and its employees. To do this, they need to be able to speak the language of both the C-suite and the front line to enable better understanding of all positions, and communicate important information in a way that gets the message across. 

Listening

What does it mean?

That you truly hear and understand what the other side is saying, not just waiting for your turn to speak.

Why is it important in Internal Communications?

In her Remotely Interested research, Jenni Field found that remote workers just want to feel like their voice is heard by HQ; the same could be said for any worker in any situation. One of the most sought-after and important skills in Internal Communications jobs is the ability to truly listen, and to be able to turn what you hear into strong Internal Communications strategy that both moves the business forward while making employees feel like they are part of something special.

Leadership

What does it mean?

Leadership is one of those words that gets used a lot in business, and its meaning is assumed — though it can mean different things to different people in different contexts. In the case of Internal Communications jobs, “leadership” means the ability to set direction and build an inspiring vision. It’s about mapping out where you need to go, how you’ll get there, and what will happen next. 

Why is it important in Internal Communications?

Internal Communications specialists have been accused of not being strategic enough, so leadership is becoming an increasingly important skill to the profession. The Internal Communications specialist will need to both set strategy and lead employee comms, while also working with and dealing with those in leadership positions across the business.

Flexibility

What does it mean?

The ability to adapt as circumstances change. Flexibility means literally that: to be able to flex and keep your eye on the ball in a dynamic environment.

Why is it important in Internal Communications?

If you’re the sort of worker who needs rigid parameters and a set list of tasks, then Internal Communications jobs are not for you. This is the role that always has something thrown from left field, that is brought into long-held projects at the last minute and expected to run with it, that is often trying to be creative with little resource. You must be able to both plan, and be able to divert from the plan at a moment’s notice.

Influence

What does it mean?

Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the behavior of someone, to get someone to see and work in a different way. It’s aligned to, though distinct from, persuasion, another key soft skill for Internal Communicators. 

Why is it important in Internal Communications?

The distinction has been described as the difference between having a vision of the optimum outcome and motivating people to work towards that vision (influence), and presenting a case in such a way as to sway the opinion of others (persuasion). This is important in Internal Communications jobs because, at the end of the day, you are there to get employees to think, feel and do certain things for the good of the business.

5 hard skills to develop as an Internal Communications specialist

Copywriting

What does it mean?

Let’s ditch the “copy” prefix, and just say writing skills are important for Internal Communications jobs as much of the role involves creating content. Copywriting, though, is the ability to put concepts into words in a way that is engaging and persuasive. 

Why is it important in Internal Communications?

Internal Communications specialist Helen Deverell writes on her blog that the craft of writing is a fundamental skill for Internal Communications: “We need to banish this idea that it’s easy and something everyone can do,” she writes. “While it has a tactical application, it’s absolutely strategic. Understanding your audience, your culture, and your values and being able to reflect that in words that not only convey a message but inspire and influence takes experience and skill. And let’s not forget shaping corporate narrative, storytelling to engage employees with change, and ensuring your content remains ethical at all times.”

Business literacy

What does it mean?

Having a working knowledge of what it means to run a business, and being able to speak the language of business leaders.

Why is it important in Internal Communications?

With Internal Communications jobs increasingly becoming strategic and working with the C-suite, business literacy or business acumen is becoming an essential hard Internal Communications skill. “You don’t have to be a financial expert, but to make an impact you do need to have business acumen, to understand how business works, and what drives CEOs and MDs,” says Advita Patel, Chair of the CIPR Inside Committee, adding that terms like EBITDA, profit and loss will come up in meetings with senior leaders. “Business acumen as an Internal Communicator will put you leaps and bounds ahead of any other communicator out there, and help you to add value,” says Advita.

Strategic analysis

What does it mean?

Strategic analysis is the process of researching a company and its operating environment to formulate a strategy. 

Why is it important in Internal Communications?

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Internal Communications must get more strategic, and so strategic analysis is an essential Internal Communications skill. It helps the practitioner to gather insights, set SMART objectives, and develop their Internal Communications strategy for optimum impact. Taken in tandem with the business acumen skill, it makes the Internal Communications specialist a difficult team member to ignore. 

Confidence 

What does it mean?

The feeling or belief that you can do what you need to do, and do it well. Think of it as self-belief.

Why is it important in Internal Communications?

We don’t mean you have to be an alpha male or a total egomaniac to work in Internal Communications jobs — far from it, as you’ll see from the list of soft skills. But Internal Communications specialists must speak in public, talk one-on-one with senior business leaders, and work to influence and persuade an entire workforce. To do that, they need to be confident in their abilities, and be able to get up in front of very important people or large groups and make sense while doing so. Confidence is not inherent, and can be learned. 

Planning

What does it mean?

By “planning”, we mean the ability to make plans, to organize, to arrange or to do the groundwork. It’s thinking before the action takes place

Why is it important in Internal Communications?

Whether it’s planning a campaign, planning tactics to deliver a strategy, or planning events like town halls, the Internal Communications specialist must be something of a master planner. If you’re not organized and know how to plan, you’ll find you need for flexibility resulting in a total mess and lots of missed deadlines and objectives.

Don’t forget tech literacy for Internal Communications jobs!

All of these Internal Communications skills are great enablers for the job, but they will mean little unless you are technologically literate. In today’s business world, technology is the focal point for everything — from the way we do our work to how we communicate with each other. When a business is driven by cloud-based software such as the G Suite, those in charge of the company’s Internal Communications must know how to harness that technology to help improve productivity, collaboration and engagement. 

Today’s Internal Communications specialist must know how to use technology to:

  • Communicate with employees
  • Collaborate within their team and across business functions to break down silos and work smarter
  • Research and gain insights into how employees are behaving
  • Plan and execute Internal Communications campaigns
  • Test new Internal Communications strategies and tactics
  • Measure the impact of Internal Communications


When you combine these hard and soft Internal Communications skills with tech literacy, you’ll be ready to take the next leap in your Internal Communications career.

Author:

Jonathan Davies

Date:

Tue, Jul 2, '19

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