16 December 2010

Boost your ego, leave your job

This week I announced that I will be leaving Océ to take on a new challenge as Corporate Communications Senior Manager at Amgen Europe. B.V.
I am really looking forward to my new job, but what I wanted to write about in this blog post is not the content of my current or my new job.

I just wanted to share with you how amazed I am about the enormous amount of sweet, positive, heartwarming messages I got. I talked about this with a few people who had switched jobs too, and they all said the same. All of a sudden people with a role to play become just regular human beings again. Wow, life is so much better if we connect on a human-to-human level instead of a role-to-role level. I know it is impossible not to play a role, but still; I am convinced that it pays out to just be yourself, in any given situation.

In the Netherlands there is a famous book about life in the corporate world, called hoe word ik een rat? (how to become a rat). In a funny way it describes that one needs to become a bit of a rat to survive in the corporate jungle. Push the right buttons at the right time, make yourself visible or invisible at the right time, use you elbows, play the politics game really well. Or, as my manager states it: “success has many fathers, failure one project manager”. Indeed, that is how it often works.

This is a bold statement, but I know I am not a corporate rat. Sure, I loose the occasional battle from a rat. Yes, I am too modest about my successes (although with this blog I am trying to prove the opposite…), but in the long run I still have enough successes to celebrate. My career is still in an upward mode. That’s really nice, but that is not the only reason why I have been walking with a big smile on my face all week. In fact, more important is the fact that all the positive feedback I received proved to me that it pays out to just be yourself. There is room for being genuine in the corporate world, and that is a very encouraging thought.

I’d like to dedicate this blog post to my father. He spent his working life quite high up in the hierarchy of the corporate world, and when he died at the age of 59, his 200 or so business friends disappeared from our lives within two months. Some of these people had worked with him for over 25 years and had seen me grow up. What I learned from that awful experience is that life is too precious to play a game. Or as Stephen Covey states: there is no one who says at their deathbed:’ I really regret that I didn’t spend more time at the office’.

09 December 2010

As Manager Internal Communications, I don’t manage 99% of internal communications

As a Manager Internal Communications I am not responsible for 99 per cent of the internal communications in our company. Think about it: where and how do people communicate? On a daily basis, every employee communicates via email, phone calls, one-on-one conversations, small group meetings, departmental meetings, phone conferences, video conferences, reports, you name it.

In my current job I am responsible for NONE of the above… OK, it makes sense that I don’t write your emails, but - in fact - I have no say in email as a prime communication tool too.

Defining Internal Communications as a profession is traditionally hard. I am still not able to really pinpoint it, but I like the approach of a Dutch consultant, Ilse van Ravenstein. She is the owner of Involve, an agency dedicated to internal communications.

She defines different playing fields. The model varies in words every now and then, but this is my interpretation of it. Our field of responsibility:

1 Players: empowering our employees to communicate themselves (this covers the 99 per cent I mentioned. We can be a consultant to our employees or we can train them).

2 Media: the obvious one, our internal media mix; intranet, newsletters, blogs, you name it.

3 Themes: we often take responsibility for a cross media approach of themes that matter to everyone; strategy, sustainability, change programs.

4 Measure: embed and guarantee: we should measure the internal communications need and -effect, make sure that we embed our efforts in the organization and ensure that our actions are followed up.

5 Organize the IC function: we need to organize all the above: ensure that the Internal Communications function has its place in the organization. We should build up a network of people responsible for internal communications.

Does this model cover it all? No, but I have not seen a better one so far. The definition question will remain, but at least a framework like this allows us to discuss our scope in a more structured way. The model helped me discuss my program with my internal stakeholders at Océ. I am sure that the scope of the internal communications function will differ from organization to organization. With the 99 per cent in mind, it might be wise to focus on empowering the players: our employees. If you are a regular reader of my blog, it should come as no surprise that I think that there is a world to be won in that area.