IoIC’s current Internal Communicator of the Year - Oxfam’s Saskia Jones – was a star performer at the organisation’s conference last week. It’s pretty obvious that Saskia is brilliant at what she does, and that she’s found her place at Oxfam. She shared four factors that have helped her become a highly respected trusted advisor at Oxfam:

1)            Know your business

All too often, internal communicators get into tools and tactics rather than focusing on the reason for and value of delivering key messages. So, before making decisions, first ask yourself how it links to the business. How will employees and stakeholders benefit? Take the time to step back and ask yourself what you’re trying achieve and how it will support the business. How do you do this?

  • Get to know the strategy and financial figures of the business
  • Understand the needs of the employees and the business
  • Think about what you want people to know, feel and do

2)            Listen

Set up one-to-one appointments with your leaders, because the more you listen the more you understand. When you listen, you can identify opportunities where you can support. And it’s not just about listening to the leaders, listen to all employees – always be on the move, listening and talking. Listening creates conversation too, so have the courage to be open and honest, push back and tell people what they might not want to hear.

3)            Be proactive

In internal communications, you’re in the privileged positon of having access to so much knowledge. When you really know the business, you’re in the best position to help to solve problems. Be constantly curious and always ready to learn. Explore new ideas and take risks, have the confidence to keep raising the standards of what internal communications can achieve.

4)            Be authentic

Be yourself, don’t try and be anyone else. Build genuine relationships with people and you’ll get people to trust you.

Finally, don’t just think about communications now, think about the impact it will have later on. Remember: most big improvements don’t happen overnight. And always have lots of feedback and evidence to support your ideas.