I was lucky enough to attend the the IoIC conference this year which was about ‘Humanising Internal Communications’. 

It sparked some fascinating debates and presentations from a range of speakers about how they have made their comms more people focussed, how they managed to engage in difficult times – well, actually a war zone (Tony Kay, Foreign and Commonwealth Office), and how using the employee voice has transformed the take-up of information (Northumbrian Water Group) by their employees. We heard about how GE Healthcare eliminated channels to reduce the comms ‘noise’ and how empowering staff to contribute increased their dialogue. 

We collaboratively discussed a definition of Employee Engagement and its purpose, and this was the outcome that Table 9 came to:
“Employee Engagement is an emotionally invested relationship between a business and its people in an environment where both can succeed and flourish.”
Emma Bridger talked through how engaged employees work harder and breed success, how autonomy, reward, value and trust encourage engagement and how internal communications aids that journey.

The conference then turned towards the benefits of storytelling. Laura Storey and Sarah Warsaw shook things up at IBM with their newsletter approach. This went from being a content heavy email through a digital transformation to an app that allowed people to read when and wherever they liked on any number of platforms. By examining the channels and enabling colleagues to take ownership, their success has been incredible. Storytellers are empowered and people are engaged.

Dr Leandro Herrero at the IoIC Conference

The keynote presenter had a challenge on his hands: last presentation on a Friday afternoon to 80 delegates in a dark room! Poor guy!  However, Dr Leandro Herrero was the man for the job. He had us laughing as he talked about humanising our business and recapturing internal communication. “Why don’t you occupy the space of humanity?”
He asked why “no one takes charge of the good stuff that happens informally?”
He provided his view for a six-point plan for internal communicators:

Re-humanise the language
Bring character back

Curate the informal organisation 
Return to face to face and peer to peer

Master Storytelling 
Talk about the things that are meaningful 

Fight the reductionism epidemic
Some things were meant to be long

Close the loop with purpose
Unpack people’s motivation, values and behaviours and understand their purpose

Choose where in behavioural change you want to be
Reinventing yourself though skills (or be more comfortable and stay as you are)

The conference certainly had us debating. It had us tweeting too, to the extent that it was trending at #2 for the day. I felt excited hearing the views of the presenters and the delegates and also learning from other businesses about how internal comms had had positive impact on their colleagues within their organisations. Above all, I really enjoyed listening to how others have approached issues and see how our work at theblueballroom can and does have a similarly positive effect for our clients.

IoIC review of Dr Herrero's presentation