Tag Archives: co-production

Using internal comms to connect with communities

16 Nov

I was recently given the opportunity to write a guest post for the excellent blog ‘Diary of an internal communicator‘. Rachel Miller, the brains behind the blog kindly agreed for me to reblog my post here. So, here we are. This is how we’re trying to connect with our communities. This is what makes Monmouthshire different.

In Monmouthshire, we are experiencing a lot of the same problems as other organisations. Money is tight, demands for services are increasing and what people think of us can change in an instant. Nothing unusual for a county council. What is unusual is the way we’ve decided to tackle this.

As part of Nesta’s Creative Councils campaign, we devised Your County Your Way. I don’t want to define it as a project because that would suggest that there’s an end date. It’s more than that. It’s about who we are, what we do and why we do it. It’s about proving our worth and relevance to the communities we serve and shaping our services around their needs. We’re transforming our culture so that we start to listen and respond to our communities more effectively. And to do that, we’re working from the inside out.

At the heart of this culture change is the Intrapreneurship School – an internal training scheme open to all staff, that encourages innovation, understanding and shifts our perspective to focus on what really matters, as defined by our communities. The school celebrates individuality, promotes cross-team working and most significantly, puts trust in our colleagues. Trust to make the right decisions without having to feed-up the chain of command. Hierarchy? What’s that?

It’s a pretty radical programme, and some would shy away from it, but we think it’s necessary. We can only be excellent if we foster excellence and that starts with trust. A trusted workforce is a valued workforce; a passionate, dedicated bank of people who are ready to contribute to your organisation’s success. Ready to make a difference.

So, why have we started with internal communications? Well, that’s easy. We can’t tell our story outside if we don’t ‘get it’ inside. And, as I tried to put my thoughts in order, a bit of a chain of events started to emerge. See diagram and explanation below.

Internal comms journey - a diagram

  1. Using internal comms we can promote understanding amongst our colleagues.
  2. Aligning our colleagues expectations with organisational expectations fosters positive behaviour/culture change.
  3. This change has a positive effect on the day job. We do things better.
  4. Providing a better service means that our customers/communities are more satisfied. Brand perception improves.
  5. Both parties start to feel more valued and we begin to listen to each other more effectively.
  6. We are connecting with each other. We are having conversations. Really engaging.
  7. We begin to work together.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Tips for internal comms professionals implementing massive change:

  1. Be honest: Radical change is scary and that’s ok. We need to acknowledge our fears before we can really move on. And, giving people permission to be scared is usually enough to quell the fear.
  2. Be transparent: Don’t try and avoid the awkward stuff. I’m a firm believer in facing it head-on, answering any questions and if I don’t know the answer then I’m happy to say that too. Dodging issues is a sure-fire way of killing any trust your colleagues had in you.
  3. Believe in the change: This is not always easy. Sometimes we are asked to do things that we don’t wholeheartedly believe in but we have to do it anyway. It’s our job. If you find yourself in this position, take a moment to understand the merits of the scheme. Think about why it’s necessary and use that as your focus. You can’t expect others to jump on the train if you won’t.