There’s not many conferences where people happily give up their Saturday to attend and the excitement in the lead up is comparable to going on holiday or Glastonbury. The Big Yak is undoubtedly the conference of the year and last Saturday again proved why.
The agenda less day saw 130 communicators get to the heart of the issues in our organisations and discuss them with honesty, humour and frustration. Many people commented after that it was like therapy – and I have to agree!
The sessions I attended covered a range of meaty subjects that inspired a lot of debate. Some of my key takeaways were:
Are communicators the worst at communicating within their own teams?
• implement a quick five minute catch up first thing in the morning with your team and use the time wisely – don’t run through to do lists, focus on the ‘rocks’, issues that need solving, share successes – make the time valuable if you want to build a strong team that communicates effectively
• if you are a big team play coffee roulette (thanks Belinda Gannaway for this tip). You put all your names in a hat, pick one out and take that person for coffee to find out what they’re working on and get to know them as a person as well
• how happy is your team? Productivity has been proven to have a direct link to happiness (not to be confused with engagement) and considering we spend most of our time with our colleagues, how well we get on can have a huge effect on our wellbeing.
What are the value of IC qualifications?
• employers still value the basic skills such as writing over qualifications despite qualifications appearing more and more in job descriptions
• many people are unclear on which IC qualification provides the most value
• the consensus in the room was that people wanted more than a tick in the box exercise such as a certificate to show a future employer, they wanted a qualification that challenged them and provided them with additional skills and knowledge
• qualifications demonstrate to employers that you are serious in your career and are willing to invest in your development.
How does the culture and role of an internal comms team change once we have given our employees a voice on ESNs?
• the question of whether ESNs are going to do internal communicators out of a job reared its head several times. The feeling on the day was one of positivity that our roles will change but in a good way. We will become curators of content and in some ways become journalists again where we use our ESNs to spot the stories and to make the links for people
• people agreed that we need to let go of the desire to have perfect copy and control over content. The beauty of the ESN is that information is more widely shared by employees themselves. Our role will be to coach them in shaping their message in the right way. One person bravely said “Our roles need to change and we need to lose our egos to be effective communicators of future” – well said
• as internal communicators we need to be individuals on ESN. We can’t hide behind ‘internal communications’. Our personalities should come across so we can connect with people and build relationships where we can support them.
How do you prove the value of internal communications?
• effective measurement is still being spoken about as if it is the holy grail. Many people said that they are not even asked to provide measurement to prove their value which says a lot about how our function is viewed by some parts of the business
• people challenged that just because you haven’t been asked to measure doesn’t mean you shouldn’t been doing it (couldn’t agree more) and if we don’t do it well we will always be seen as marketing’s poor relation.
This is just a snapshot of what was a hugely insightful event and I know others have also done blogs which no doubt cover sessions I didn’t attend so make sure you check them out.
The Big Yak is also a great opportunity to catch up with familiar faces and meet new ones, hear exciting ideas and share successes. Overall it was a fantastic day and as always I left feeling inspired.