“Why are there no CEOs here?”
This was one of the first questions that was asked as we kicked off our communications unconference – Comms Reboot – in Birmingham. Comms Reboot is a day-long conference where attendees set the agenda based on the topics that are important to them and the organisations they work for.
The question was aimed at anyone in a leadership position. Because when you’re spending a day talking about employee engagement, internal communication, culture, and the employee experience, you have to wonder why more leaders wouldn’t want to be there!
“When do you think we will come to an event about internal communication and talk about something completely new?” was another challenge thrown into the room.
Measurement, employee engagement, line manager communication and leadership are recurrent tricky issues. As someone who often talks about the trends in internal communication and how they don’t move that quickly, this is worth some further discussion.
In fact, there were topics on the agenda that hadn’t come up before – the cost-of-living crisis and how to be more creative were two that weren’t on the list the previous year when we had topics like how to stay relevant and women’s safety for the first time.
What we need to remember – and what was mentioned in the room – is that people come and go from roles that impact communication, engagement, and the employee experience in organisations all the time. So having the space to attend an event where you can discuss things freely without the constraint of an agenda, means that anything goes. And for those who have been in the industry a long time, there is always something new to learn.
On the day, I facilitated a few of the sessions – one around noise (too much communication) in organisations and one around the neuroscience of change. The topic of noise always interests me as I talk a lot about the need for relevance in communication and how to prioritise and manage stakeholders. My main takeaway from this conversation was the need to be even narrower with the purpose of channels and have significant clarity around what that purpose is too.
I facilitated the neuroscience discussion as it’s something I have read about and a subject I often talk about as well. My book, Influential Internal Communication has a whole chapter on understanding people because it is fundamental for communication to succeed inside organisations. I hadn’t heard about “sensemaking” before, so it was great to have recommendations for books and YouTube videos to find out more.
I’ve been working in communication for nearly 20 years and in those two sessions alone, I left with some new things to explore and fresh perspectives. All of that came from being part of a conversation between different communication professionals and some leaders, from different organisations and in some cases different countries.
Afterward, we asked attendees for their golden takeaway from the day, here are a few of them:
“Use an understanding of neuroscience to help reduce colleagues’ fear as they go through change.”
“Don’t underestimate how external approaches (customer journeys or UX) can also inform internal strategy.”
“Data unlocks so much potential.”
“Outcomes, and not clicks, are the measure of ROI.”
“Colleagues at the coalface are not remote. We are remote from them.”
“Treat leaving employees, the same as joining employees!”
“Be mindful of how we deliver messages in the current climate especially. People have bigger concerns on their minds.”
“Creativity takes many forms, and your material or campaign doesn’t have to be all singing and dancing to be creative.”
I’m intrigued to see what themes come up in 2023 as we take Comms Reboot to Chicago, USA on Saturday 14 October. Will there be something different from attendees across the pond? Will more leaders attend to learn more about what they could do differently? It’s an event that is open to anyone – we had a paediatric nurse attend this year!
If you’re interested, please join our waitlist. I hope that more people, who are keen to improve the employee experience, join us in Chicago in 2023 or when we’re back in the UK in 2024!