Which word in management, and HR, is
possibly used more than “millennial”? My vote goes to VUCA. This acronym stands
for a state of being that seems to define our world today, and again, I’m not
talking about just HR but the world of tech and business in general. Things are
volatile, uncertain and complex for sure, with more than a dash of ambiguity
thrown in, just for fun. Like I like to call it, it’s the complete upside-down
world! Should such a big deal be made about this? I’m not so sure. But should
we still take it seriously and look at how it impacts our roles? Definitely.
The role of communicators and other
business enabling functions is a crucial one in times of uncertainty and flux.
Especially if we are in organizations that value employees as their biggest
assets. Therefore, we need to get on board the VUCA train and pick up things
along the way. As always, at the center of communications will be three
important traits: Creativity, Innovation and Empathy. These three will form the
underlying principles on which we build our communication practices.
Let’s take a look at what we need in order
to communicate effectively in this world:
Speedy decisions and actions –
This is an important aspect, and usually a tough one to take on, especially in
large orgs which may have many levels of hierarchy. Speed is a crucial element
in responding to change through communication, as employees today receive all
their information at the press of a button. Communicators should work towards being
the first to share news on internal channels, before a news or Google alert
pops up on their phones.
Love Learning – Without a
thirst for learning all things new, communicators will soon turn redundant or
irrelevant. Going after the new is what keeps us going.
Ride the waves of business and technology
– As a communicator, we cannot work in a vacuum of what just the people want.
To stay relevant, it’s important for us to ride the tidal waves of business and
technology with equal ease. This is especially true nowadays when the disruptive
nature of emerging tech trends is shaking up businesses everywhere. In some
cases, this may mean that some of our roles may not exist in the future, but we
will still be required to navigate the confluence of people, business and
technology. We must be comfortable enough with tech trends to help business
transform themselves, while giving the people the information they need to
facilitate their own individual transformations. Of course, we need to remember
the “human” element in all our communications, and amplify it too. Tech
enablement without the human touch is too severe a measure.
People and Customization – For
internal communicators, the workforce and their views are strong forces that
tend to require attention that is detailed and focused. What I mean is that,
given the diverse nature of global workforces and the unique
cultural/generational/business views that are born of this, a “one size fits
all” approach communications can no longer work. Customization is the name of
game, especially when one’s workforce largely comprises of millennials who are
tech-savvy and always on. Additionally, managers and leaders are two groups
that benefit from customized communication, leading to better team management
and employee engagement.
One of the plus sides of
working on customizing communications is that you can mould employees into
being brand ambassadors that focus on different areas of your employer branding
plan, including CSR and volunteerism, social media, networking, etc. Brand
ambassadors are crucial in retaining and attracting great talent. This is more so true since the lines between
internal and external worlds is blurring rapidly. With a completely
mobile-enabled workforce, internal communications now extends into the external
social media space as well. This is closely connected to the first point of
speed and agility being at the center of all communications.
Driven by data – A common
concern in communications is measuring the value of the campaigns and work
delivered. Sure, views on a video and hits on a portal determine reach, but
does that really make a change in company culture? Maybe not. It’s time to find
lateral ways of measuring communication success. Does an email about innovative
teams see an increase in ideas logged on the company collaboration platform?
Does a blog about the importance of recognition correlate to an increase is the
number of reward points meted out to a unit? We might need to look far afield
to find other ways of measuring communication success.
Finally, in our
world, the role of Internal Communications as a function is to simply keep it real. Give leaders the true view
and pulse of employees, show employees the true nature of changing times and
uncertainties while giving them the confidence and platforms to navigate
through this. Sure, the picture might not always be rosy, but that’s alright,
we all learn together! While the term VUCA may send an involuntary shiver up
some of our spines (me included), some of us go out and actively search for
this world. It’s like the highest rollercoasters at the craziest theme parks –
the thrill of the ride overrules any anxiety!