State of the Sector 2019 showed little progress has been made when it comes to demonstrating our impact. Jen Sproul, CEO of the Institute of Internal Communication, explores some ways to move the needle in this area.
Looking at the results, it’s worrying that the portion of respondents who, say they don’t measure their impact has stayed the same for years, at around 12%. On the positive side, it’s great to see there’s been an increase in qualitative methods, which is really where we get insight. Quantitative tells you where you are, but not why. How can we find out what people really think? We deal with emotional beings. Perhaps you can’t quite find out what’s on their minds from quantitative research only.
However, from the report it still looks like measurement is approached from a metrics perspective. I can’t see much evidence of us developing the insights needed to engage senior leaders’ minds, hearts and wallets. We need much stronger insights to link our efforts to behaviour change and to develop a business case for more resources.
“Quantitative tells you where you are but not why. How can we find out what people really think? We deal with emotional beings. Perhaps you can’t quite find out what’s on their minds from quantitative research only.”
I’ve seen some great examples. One company I met with had conducted some research showing that the company was losing millions due to a decision-making bottleneck. Employees were not feeling empowered to make decisions. They launched an internal communication campaign to change people’s mindset and they were able to demonstrate that it saved the organisation millions of pounds. It makes me wonder, how can we get the confidence to get in and find those pieces of insight gold?
We need to be careful of not using a lack of a business strategy as an excuse for not developing our own. I don’t think we need a business strategy to go in as a strategic business unit and make strides into understanding what challenges people are facing and coming up with strategic solutions.
I think that there’s lots of routes that can be explored, including observational research. We talk a lot about the line manager being a barrier. To address this, we need to be spending more time understanding our people. Who are our blockers? Who are our advocates? Where do they sit? Where do we need to move them to?
There are some great tools and techniques that have been developed for the consumer insight world, that perhaps we could learn from.
We’ve got more generations working than ever before. They all have different expectations, which we need to address. We need to consider what the future of work looks like.
Biography: Jen Sproul
Robust impact measurement allows us as internal communicators to have more strategic conversations with leaders. This year’s State of the Sector showed little progress has been made when it comes to demonstrating our impact. Jen Sproul, the CEO of the Institute of Internal Communication, explores some ways to move the needle in this area.