The skills we need to take us into the next era of comms and engagement


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The Bionic Business report from simplycommunicate provides insight into the way organisations need to change to adapt to a hybrid working environment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report outlines three key characteristics of what a bionic organisation is:

  • They go beyond simple empathy, and everyone is united behind a common purpose so much so that they feel personally involved in the business
  • They are proactive in communicating change – proactive encouragement of new, collaborative behaviours
  • They have stepped beyond the first wave and are exploring automation of repetitive processes and looking at AI.

This made me think. For years we have seen barriers for internal communicators remain the same – the challenge with deskless workers and line managers as a conduit for information. In addition, we have seen skills in PR static – the desired skills or the skills gaps around research and evaluation, business acumen and project management aren’t new.

So when we look at the characteristics of organisations needed to embrace this new world I can’t help but wonder what the characteristics are of the people involved in making this a reality.

For me, this would include the leadership team and the communications function and I’d expect to see an investment in the following areas to enhance or build the skills needed:

  • Impactful communication training – helping people realise how their communication style impacts others. If we want to have an organisation that goes beyond empathy, we have to start with making sure that empathy exists.
  • Resilience training – if we are looking to embrace change and adapt behaviours then we need to make sure people have the skills to do that. Change is not easy for humans so making sure that we are aware of the impact it has on us and how to keep on going when it feels challenging is an important skill to develop.
  • Psychological safety – I’m partway through reading the Fearless Organisation by Amy Edmondson and it’s clear that this needs to underpin everything inside an organisation in order to enable change, innovation and collaboration – there cannot be proactive encouragement without safety in place.
  • AI, tech and automation in the workplace – we have to understand how this can work, what the impact is on processes and people and more. If we don’t invest in upskilling ourselves in this area we cannot support the organisations desire to move to bionic.

The reports tells us that market research from IDC predicts that by 2023, 75% of organisations will have comprehensive technology roadmaps, up from 27% today. That is a huge increase in less than five years so we need to invest in ourselves to make sure we know enough to advise those around us.

As I finished the report I reached the conclusion that this goes beyond the workplace and it’s about life itself. If we review the findings in this report against how work has changed, we can see that this is a much bigger societal change.

For years we have been focused on the 9-5, the rush hour and the physical office. All of that has changed this year.

Industry articles highlight that flexible working, work/life balance, the importance of emotional intelligence and resilience are all areas where work has changed. How we learn at work, the reskilling needed and health and wellbeing are all a focus that will carry forward into next year and beyond.

So when it comes to creating a bionic business we have to consider whether the people in the organisation have the right skills to support and advise such a change – are we really ready to work in a hybrid world? And if we aren’t, now is the time to invest in ensuring we will be sooner rather than later.

Originally featured on the Simply Communicate blog

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