So what have babies and employee engagement got in common? One comms manager claims to have no idea, but she’s going to find out…
by Natalie Corney
In a short while, I’ll be taking a temporary break from my career as my husband and I get ready for the arrival of our first child.
You might have thought that after nearly four years of fertility treatment, including a number of failures, I’d be bouncing up and down with the excitement of it all.
But, whilst I am obviously happy, leaving my career and something I’m so passionate about is going to be really hard. Through all the fertility treatment (and for those of you lucky not to have had to experience it, I can tell you it’s very unpleasant and emotionally draining) my career has always been there. My passion for making a difference through good communications has driven me to keep going and one of the biggest parts of that is employee engagement.
No matter what happens in my private life, there are always people in my workplace who want things to improve, who long for better communication, who need to feel respected, enthused and valued for what they do, myself included. It’s been a privilege to help to improve those areas and hopefully make people’s lives just that little bit better, because aside from the office, you never really know what other struggles people are facing.
Employee engagement is a tough gig. Working to change the culture of an organisation is no easy task. After all, you’re looking at about seven years to start seeing a real difference, and whilst you can measure some outputs and outcomes along the way, it really is a long-term game.
Simply just shoving out some comms via your channels is not going to achieve that. Messaging has to be thought through, and everything should align with your organisation’s vision and values. It needs to be timely (I’ll say that again, it needs to be timely) and it needs to engage – whether that’s because it’s fun, quirky or emotive. If it doesn’t spark interest then quite frankly it’s a waste of everyone’s time and just a tick box exercise to say you’ve communicated it.
Just for the record, communicating something– though I’m probably preaching to the converted if you are reading this – does NOT mean it’s been understood and it is not ‘engagement’.
Since joining my current organisation, my team and I have worked immensely hard to try and do this. We don’t always get it right, not everything works, but we are not just sitting back and doing the same thing day after day and expecting a different outcome.
I’m desperately going to miss my role, even if it is for a short time. I guess if I think about it for more than a nanosecond, it does have some similarities with expectations for my new family life…
It’s going to be hard work, and just because I might say something doesn’t mean it will have been understood. If I don’t find a way of engaging with this small creature that is about to arrive then I’ll never have any success. So, it’s my job to find a way that they want to engage with me – and that isn’t by doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.
Equally, I’ll have to engage with other types of leaders to share good practice, agree suitable approaches and maybe even learn from each other – I’m mainly talking about my husband here – well he likes to think he’s a leader anyway J
There will be lots of failures, but hopefully lots of success too and after all, behaviour change is a long term game, and whilst it can take around seven years to see the fruits of that, I’ll be honest and say I hope I can master some kind of sleep routine long before then!
Natalie Corney is corporate communications manager at Brent Council
image via Toronto History