First off, this isn’t a condemnation of U.S. White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Anyone in communication understands that’s an extremely difficult and demanding job, regardless of who the president of the United States is.
A recent Globe and Mail article authored by two former communication directors for Canadian prime ministers sought to share advice for Spicer to make his job a bit easier. They provided four rules, but with an external communication focus. I noticed that there is a direct alignment in their advice with how internal communicators should act with CEOs and other senior leaders.
Here are the four rules, with an internal communication slant:
Rule #1: Your job is not to suck up to your boss
Article authors Peter Donolo and Jason MacDonald use the phrase “speaking truth to power.” And I love it. They say that a huge part of begin a communication adviser is telling your boss what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Many in internal communication are guilty of being afraid to tell their boss/CEO/whomever the truth if it’s not what the leader wants to hear. You represent the voice of the employee and are not the company’s internal mouthpiece. This is likely where employee engagement has been damaged the most.
Rule #2: Never lie to the media (or employees)
Idealistically, the rule should end with “lie,” but let’s move on. Just like external communication people should never betray the trust of the media, internal comms professionals shouldn’t with employees. Again, internal communication is the voice of the employee. And with trust on the decline everywhere, you simply can’t afford a lie. You help perpetrate a lie and employee trust in you will vanish....
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