Welcome to our weekly profile about who's who in internal comms.
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Engagement Internal Communications
Time with company
Connect with Chaya
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I had no idea actually. I followed my passions, so studied social sciences and then went from a Psychology degree towards Psychiatry clinical training, I spent a year working in a Psychiatric hospital for girls with eating disorders. It was a very influential year for me and I grew up a lot but had three accidents, the last one putting me out of work for six weeks meant that I finished my year and started retraining in Public Relations.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
New Zealand is the most amazing country I have visited, we had our honeymoon there so I fell in love with the place. Peaceful and beautiful with nature and water all around, as well as dramatic geothermal activity! Just my cup of tea!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Wherever you are, be there!
It was actually advice given when I was coming back from maternity leave and not only does it work when you have a lot going on, but also just helps you to be fully present. When I am at home with the family I try not to be thinking about work and at work it doesn’t help to have your mind elsewhere.
What’s the secret to a good life?
Making the most of life is first knowing what makes life worth living, the people you love and who love you.
Then taking care of yourself, your mind and body.
Finding and following your passions- being the best at what you do by loving what you do.
If you could choose a mentor who would it be?
I have one it’s my Father - the bravest, strongest and most spiritual man I know. He always manages to know what I need to hear. But if I needed to choose a new mentor it would be the Dalai Lama, I am not a Buddhist but I went to one of his lectures a few years ago, I was amazed at how relevant his guidance is and how funny he is, I was in stitches!
Delivering excellence at Shell
Tell us a bit about your role:
It’s my job to work out how we drive employee engagement and business performance through excellence in internal communications. I have a global HQ role and responsibility to develop and execute Shell’s internal communications strategy on engagement. There are two parts to this, firstly developing and implementing communications training and coaching for leaders across Shell and secondly, capability building by making sure our IC teams are the best at their job by delivering fit-for-purpose professional development for Internal Communications (IC) and External Relations (ER) departments.
What’s on your internal comms agenda right now?
For me personally, many things, but I will pick three:
1) Getting the leader coaching programme to the leaders who need it most; the key is finding the parts of the business where low engagement is causing issues with safety and performance and then see where the challenges are in communications.
2) Keeping the strategy conversation going. When we rolled-out the refreshed strategy in 2016, I designed the mechanism of how leaders at every level in the organisation 'translate' rather than 'cascade' the strategy to their teams, but also get feedback through meaningful conversations.
3) Dialogue and conversation, how we build empathy and listening from an employee empowerment perspective. This is firstly creating opportunities to have conversations rather than the usual ‘tell’ but it’s harder to build a culture where staff feel free to speak their mind.
Who, or what, has had the biggest impact on internal comms in your organisation in the past year?
I am really proud of the coaching programme because it not only delivers results but develops people.
I have targeted the areas in the organisation that need it the most and the engagement scores speak for themselves. The pilot project achieved 17% increase in employee engagement and recently we are getting around a 5% increase, even in challenging environments. One plant manager said: "The coaching and materials helped me to inspire the next level of leaders to use their own language to deepen the conversation.”
What’s your proudest achievement or best day in your current role?
For me the moments that make my day are when people grow and learn to do something different. When a manager has that moment of realisation and you see the penny drop! But my best day in my Shell career was actually visiting the Albian Sands project, playing with cool engineering equipment and having conversations with employees who work on the frontline. Every communications person should take time to get deep understanding about what their business or client does, it will take your communications up to the next level.
How would you advise someone considering a career in internal comms?
Do it! My advice is…
1) Get to know your business, ask a lot of questions so you can feel the DNA of your business leaders and their challenges.
2) Measure, do it before, during and after. Measure not only what is easy to measure but the outcome you are trying to achieve. Don’t fear qualitative research and look for the impact on business performance and engagement.
3) Before you get to know your channels, get to know your audience really well.
It’s a profession that is quite young still and gets more and more exciting the more we develop.
What do you think are the top three trends in internal communications to watch out for in 2018?
1) The employee voice through dialogue and listening.
2) I am really excited by the work on influencers and ambassadors.
3) Digital - of course. This one can’t be ignored but needs strategic planning.