4 internal communication strategies. And one is storytelling

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  • There are shared intelligence companies. The question is, how do you manage to deliver it?
  • There are companies where the CI is limited to reporting the pure data and nothing else.
  • Demonstrating, specifying, translating into slang and narrating are four strategies that support internal change.

Internal communication, practiced as a dialogue and not as a monologue, allows shared intelligence to flourish in organizations. Strategies like Tell stories If they are participative, encourage different teams and departments to develop common visions about the customer and their problems.

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In this article, we’re going to see how we can get our people involved in the best internal communication, either on the front line or in the background of the company.

Who would win the war?

Without cards, armies lose wars. If you have it but don’t know how to interpret it, you lose too. Even if they have them and know how to use them, but every soldier fights for himself, defeat is certain.

All armies need resources. Some are material (like people, machines, money, or energy). Others are intangible: data (the map), intelligence (the interpretation of the map) and a shared vision of the enemy.

The same thing happens with companies and countries: It doesn’t always win who has the most and best data, but who generates and shares the best information.

Internal communication

As a professional interested in convincing communication, I often look at how companies share information internally. Often the department (or function) of internal communication (IC) plays a very relevant role in this process through its publications, circulars, communications, Newsletter or intranets. But employees also activate this communication.

I’ve known companies where the CI is limited to reporting the pure data and nothing else. I am also aware of cases where the data was given without further discussion with the official interpretation given by “those above”. They both remind me of armies where there are either no maps or few understand them: those troops are defeated in the end.

There is a third type of organization that ensures that data and interpretations are shared and integrated by all departments and employees. They are organizations that speak and listen at the same time and that win because internal communication is two-way. Everyone, every department, is on the same page when it comes to the customer and their problems.

So there are shared intelligence companies. The question is, how do you manage to deliver it?

Internal communication, for whom?

Some time ago I got to know the work of Nancy Duarte. She is an expert in corporate communication, founder of the most notorious communication agency in Silicon Valley . He has written half a dozen international ones bestseller and lectures at TEDx no less than at Stanford and MIT. He’s someone worth listening to.

In the spring of 2019, he wrote an article entitled “How do you get others to follow your recommendations? “. She focused on the compelling aspect of internal communication, but her analogies help me describe other situations.

Duarte says that in all organizations there are people who know how to connect data. That turns them into intelligence and they discover opportunities. Regardless of whether they are part of the grassroots or the board of directors, they tend to think and recommend actions to take advantage of. However, in order for these instructions to be followed, they must convince other people and departments in your company. Duarte found that a lot of companies create good data, have good ideas, but don’t generate the collaboration they need. Intelligence may be in abundance, but not good internal communication.

The reason for this, he noted, is because each person in the company needs to be told something different. There are those who just want to know and ask. There are those who have to thoroughly understand, contrast, and doubt. Some just need to be told what to do and eventually others need to be excited to act. There are a total of four communication strategies for four different dialogues.

Pepa and the four strategies

Imagine Pepa. He works as an analyst in the Customer Experience Management department of a multinational insurance company. It has thousands of data from its customers. One day he crosses her and bingo !: He finds a pain unforeseen, a problem that affects a relevant group of customers and makes them sad. If she could avoid this pain, she would improve the customer experience and beat the competition in this area.

Pepa creates a detailed report that explains what is happening and why. It also contains a list of recommendations and technical and cultural changes that apply to many areas of the company: finance, human resources, marketing, production … Change is everyone’s responsibility.

Now Pepa faces the challenge of convincing the company of their discovery. But you won’t do it with just one story. You will need four. First, for your direct boss. Another for the board. Another for those responsible for the areas concerned and, most recently, for the entire workforce worldwide.

Pepa will tailor her communication to suit each audience because she wants to enter into dialogue with them before engaging them.

Nancy Duarte would recommend that you use these four strategies:

  • Show : Pepa first has to convince her direct boss. How to create a detailed report, based on the data, ordered, showing the existence of the problem and its characteristics.
  • Get to the point : If Pepa’s boss is convinced, both of them need resources and legitimacy to lead the changes. And that, says Duarte, is only granted by the CEO or the management. But this story is no longer the same as before. The demonstration is unnecessary. Now it’s a matter of specifying. Senior managers are busy people so they will assume the analysis is good and they just want to know how they can help make the change happen. Pepa wants to start with her recommendation and then, when asked, show how she got there.
  • Translate into slang : Once she has the authority and the resources, Pepa will have to fight even more. Each of the departments named in your report will need to make changes. But the changes are often uncomfortable. Even more so, when every department is like a bubble and sees with bad eyes that an upstart, Pepa, is the one to impose it. Duarte recommends using as much jargon as possible to explain why, how, and when of these changes to each department. If they have questions, these people will ask them in their own slang as well.
  • In terms of : It’s the final battle. At some point, Pepa will need to appeal to a broad audience made up of all of the company’s employees around the world. You have to convince them of the need for change instead of telling them what it is. Duarte says that in this case it is best to use a story as it is the strategy that inspires and leads to action.

Storytelling in internal communication

Not only Duarte considers storytelling to be a useful strategy in internal communication. The psychologist Luis Casado has already described this very well In the everyday life of organizations, analytical thinking coexists with narrative , the latter being the one that gives meaning to everything else. Years earlier, Professor David M. Boje defined organizations as “ Narrative systems “And Walter Bennis sawExecutives as “storytellers” who articulates this sense.

Also the British Sara Spear and Stuart Roper shown in 2016 that a good story helps transform the organization just as a bad one undermines it. And the Australian professor Rob Gill argued that storytelling a way to maintain team loyalty in times of change .

However, one of my favorite studies is that Professors Robledo-Dioses, Atarama-Rojas and López-Hermida Russo appeared in 2019 . They introduced the case of EMC2 (currently owned by Dell Computers), a multinational company whose performance on diversity, inclusion and corporate responsibility stands out as well as its financial results. For many years the company has been awarded the prestigious ” Good place to work “.

Storytelling and commitment to change

The scientists thoroughly analyzed the internal communication system of EMC2, its contents, channels and results. They concluded that it conformed to a fully narrative pattern. The same message was repeated over and over again, a conflict, heroes and villains, a plot and a tone of dialogue. Business storytelling has to be this good.

In their article they say about the analyzed case: ” It is a clear example of how, by assuming a leadership role in history, the worker is making the company values ​​his own and developing a more solid engagement. The corporate strategy of inclusion and diversity pursued by the company makes strong, comprehensive and professional use of the storytelling tool to encourage and encourage engagement at all levels of work.

It is not for nothing that the companies that win wars are the ones that do the best at turning data into shared intelligence. And to do this, they use strategies like demonstrating, specifying, translating into slang and of course storytelling.

For all of them, internal communication is dialogue and not a monologue.


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