Click on the link above for a flyer detailing speakers and agenda for this exciting event.
I work on the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’s Internal Communication group and we are running the following event in London. Changeworks will be there to record the event and post an update and outline of key points on this site … but it would be great to see some of you there:
Do leaders really understand internal communication? Do internal communication practitioners really understand the challenges that leaders face? Do we even speak the same language?
As we face a dramatic economic downturn – with many organisations restructuring, consolidating their operations and laying people off – what role will internal communicators play in helping their leaders respond to these difficult challenges?
If you happen to be in London on Thursday 22 January and are free during the late afternoon/early evening, why not come along to our next CIPR Inside event to find out the answers?
Organised and hosted by my committee colleague, Hill & Knowlton’s Scott McKenzie, ‘Leadership Communication and Authenticity’ aims to explore the role leaders play in creating a conversation culture inside their organisation, how they establish an authentic voice internally, and the nature of their relationship with professional communicators.
This will be a free-ranging session with experienced practitioners and business leaders on our panel. A facilitated discussion will draw out key themes and issues, before these are hotly debated in open forum. The debate will be followed by a Panel Q&A and then networking drinks.
The event will take place at Hill & Knowlton’s offices (20 Soho Square, London W1A 1PR) from 1600-1830. Tickets cost just £25 + VAT (£28.75) for CIPR members; £35 +VAT (£40.25) for non-members. To reserve your place simply email firstname.lastname@example.org now.
Communication comes in two flavours: Communication and communication. Communication with big ‘C’ refers to the formal, planned communication programmes; the ‘big splash’, so to speak. By communication (small ‘c’) I am referring to the informal means of communicating with people: word of mouth, role models, mentoring, on the job training, one to one meetings etc. In organisations, we need both types of communication for communication to be powerful and most effective.
An interesting article in the New Scientist magazine, considers the transmission of communication through informal networks. Whilst this article puts an interesting slant on these ‘transmissions’ considering anything from moods (happiness, depression) to habit patterns and illnesses, what is interesting is the subconscious and rapid way that our peers influence our behaviour.
Recent research shows that our moods are far more strongly influenced by those around us than we tend to think. Not only that, we are also beholden to the moods of friends of friends, and of friends of friends of friends – people three degrees of separation away from us who we have never met, but whose disposition can pass through our social network like a virus. The fact that, seemingly, friends and peer groups are more influential than relatives or partners and spouses is even more pertinent to the transmission of communication at work. And gender is important, so the research claims: women observe and are influenced far more by other women and vice versa for men.
So what does this mean for organisational communication? There are two sides to this: the first that we need to recognise how powerful this transmission of ‘influence’ is in the organisation’s informal communication system. If employees are influenced more by those around them – in terms of attitudes, thoughts and behaviour – we need to know how to use this for positive influence in communication and change programmes. We also need to understand that this social influence can both hinder and help change communication programmes. And of course, what applies inside the organisation through informal social networks, applies even more powerfully outside the organisation. Think of the informal influence, negative or positive, that your salesmen, engineers and customer service staff have on your customers every day.
This influence is spread through a process of unconscious imitation – like the reflex action of our nervous system, this imitation by passes any conscious process and is performed highly efficiently by our brain and nervous system without any conscious interference or even awareness. Remember how infectious a smile is? I often walk around with a smile on my face, and I notice other people – complete strangers – smiling at me for no reason at all! I think they are nutters until i realise that they are simply and unconsciously copying me. This process of unconscious imitation – copying of behaviour – that we humans are so beautifully ‘wired up’ to do – facilitates in the ‘modeler’ (the person doing the copying) the experience of the emotion of the model. By copying that person’s smile with my body (facial expression, posture) i experience a ‘pale reflection’ of my model’s emotions. So by copying behaviours, I start to experience the attitudes, emotions and even thoughts of the person I am copying.
And what of the implication for organisational communications? By tapping into the ‘collective intelligence’ of social networks in the organisation we can ‘engineer’ the adoption and spread of new behaviour and cultural change. Viral Change (TM) offers a process for this, but it does require careful planning and facilitation (and an understanding of human behaviour) behind the scenes. Coupled with a strong ‘Communication’ programme, this can be a very powerful way to effect change and communication in organisations.
And what about applying this yourself? Whilst we might not be in complete conscious control of the process of social modelling, our brains take the shortcuts before we even know it; we can choose who we have around us who are likely to influence us. In 2009, do you want to be more happy or more depressed? More successful or more lazy? Whichever you prefer, think carefully about who you have around you – they might be more influential than you think!
Talk to us at Changeworks to find out how we use traditional and new media as well as behavioural change techniques to turn around performance and communication in organisations: email@example.com.