3rd Annual Strategic Internal Communications Conference Recap

3rd Annual Strategic Internal Communications Conference Recap

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Wicked Smaht Takeaways from #ALI_IC in Boston

Written by: Dayna Robbie, Communications Specialist, College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba

I was lucky to meet and hear from some leaders in internal communications last week. My first experience as an ALI conference attendee brought me to Boston and while a Bostonian accent may have rubbed off on me a little (still confused with the whole khakis/car keys debate) so did some other key takeaways. Here are the ones that stood out.

1. Ask: What are you trying to accomplish?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been given a communications directive you didn’t fully agree with. My fellow Canadian Priya Bates brought this up and I think it’s something we can all relate to. Perhaps your colleague has asked you to create a brochure when you feel an article in your newsletter may accomplish the goal better. Taking a step back and asking “what are you trying to accomplish?” helps us set clear goals. Rephrasing “no” with “let’s brainstorm because I’m here to help you accomplish your goals” can also build trust between you and your colleague.

2. Collect more coins

Wouldn’t it be great if Steve Shenbaum could MC every party? I’ve never seen someone keep a room laughing more and it all boils down to something basic – the power of human connection. It’s easy for conference goers to run out of things to talk about beyond “tell me about your work” but if our job as internal communicators is to make people feel valued then we need to find out what matters to them outside of work too. Your work may be something that defines you, but so may your love of travel, your teenage twins or the fact that you make a mean mac n’ cheese. Steve encourages us to “collect more coins” – that is, ask more questions beyond someone’s work and learn what motivates them. And if we can find out what the coins of our employees are, we can explore ways to bring them to the workplace (I don’t know about you but I’m on board for Mac n’ Cheese Mondays…).

3. Be Paul Revere

One of the attendees used a great local example to talk about solving a common challenge internal communicators face: buy-in from the c-suite. It was in 1775 when Paul Revere set out on his famous midnight ride in Boston to make it known the British army was coming. While Revere remains a pivotal player in Boston’s history toward independence, we never hear the name of the other man who also set out on this ride. Why? Revere sought out influencers to help spread the word – and made his message louder as a result. Having trouble getting a seat at the table to make your case for an internal comms strategy? Reach out to the influencers who do get a seat and see how they can help share your message. Be Paul Revere.

4. Celebrate each other

One of my favourite quotes from the conference comes with 100 of the “hands up in the air” emoji:

“The term millennial. Get rid of the name. Get rid of the label. Stop complicating engagement” ( take a guess at who said it).

Generations have more in common than they don’t and we work better with people who we trust – not ones who hold us back. So celebrate people. Have their back. Make them feel valued.

You may have noticed I used a lot of gifs while live tweeting this conference with the #ALI_IC hashtag. That’s because I love any touch of humour (I had to add a “u” in “humour” because I’m back in Canada now). What are your employee engagement tips and tricks? Share with me here or let’s chat on Twitter at @daynarobbie.

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