On my consultancy and training travels around the UK I get to learn so much from other people. Plus, there are comms lessons all around us if we look closely enough. And so, I thought I would begin sharing these lessons more regularly via the somewhat obvious blog post title of ’Things I learned this week’ 😊
I hope you enjoy volume 06
by Darren Caveney
1. Plea No. 1
I’ve been spread far and wide across the UK on my travels this past month and it’s always interesting to see the common trends which emerge across teams and organisations. This first one is an old hobby horse of mine: Reporting back.
Now every comms team I meet is delivering work of value – some of it creatively brilliant and tactically astute, some of it just good old-fashioned bread and butter communications and engagement activity.
But there is a trend I have spotted and it continues and it’s this - teams not effectively reporting back and to the right people.
In a busy comms team, it’s understandable that reporting can get squeezed. But we omit to do this at our peril.
It’s easy for me to review and organisation’s activity and of course much, much harder to actually do the job and deliver it. But I did do so for a long time so I feel I’m on safe ground to say this. We have to work from the base position that some of our senior leaders and staff know relatively little about what we do each day. Some may even assume we’re not doing much at all. We know this is highly unlikely but if we don’t report back – and be proud to do so with smart objectives being evaluated and played back – then we are putting ourselves firmly in the firing line the next time that the budget axe comes a swinging.
Make the time. Do it together - rather than rely on just one person - and prioritise it in diaries for the rest of the year.
And if you want examples of how other teams do this drop me an email and I’ll share the examples I have collected up.
Better still if you have an example report of your own which you’re proud of share that with me too. Thanks.
2. Plea No. 2
Now we always hear that line that most people leave jobs because of bad managers. I have and so I am sure there is a lot of truth in that. But there are also some bloody good comms managers and leaders out there. And a big frustration of mine is that so many of them appear to be getting little in the way of support in terms of their wellbeing in performing what are often very tricky roles.
The example I want to use here is around those leading team restructures and cuts. That is a hard job. I’ve tried it and it is tough. You learn a lot about yourself – and your colleagues (good and bad) – along the way. Yes it is ‘character building’ and yes you are paid to make these decisions. But that doesn’t mean there should not be support from those above and in the HR and OD function.
We have seen this year 40% of comms industry colleagues confirming that they are suffering from mental ill health. I wonder what the breakdown is for those leading their teams. And I wonder what the split of those also going through and leading on communications cuts is. I would put a decent wager on it being higher than 40%.
These people didn’t go into comms to be the bearer of bad news in telling someone that their job is at risk or, worse still, being removed. But if it’s now officially part of the comms leader’s JD let’s at least give some proper managerial, HR and wellbeing support. That is the least they deserve.
If you would like to write a blog post on this under-reported subject – it can be anonymous – please let me know.
And thanks for doing your best in very difficult circumstances.
3. Beware the dangers of washing up…
Well this was random. I was washing up after tea on Tuesday evening when I felt a weird little twinge in the base of my back. Five minutes later and I was unable to bend over even. What followed was a sleepless night and a next day trip to the osteopath. Blimey it was painful sitting, lying, getting up. And you know what little soldiers us men are, suffering in silence and all that.
Use the dishwasher if you have one.
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image via U.S. National Archives