Who's who Wednesday

Welcome to our weekly profile about who's who in internal comms.

If you'd like to be featured, just complete the online template and send your favourite photo. If there's someone you'd love to know more about, let us know and we'll do the rest!

Name

Jennifer Sproul

Company

Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC)

Job Title

Chief Executive

Time with company

2 years

Connect with Jennifer

Take five

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A dancer!

Where is your favourite place in the world?

I am always happiest on a beach wherever in the world

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Don't be afraid of trial and error, we learn just as much from our mistakes as well as our successes.

If you could have any super power what would you choose?

To fly or teleport, I’m not a fan of the time we lose trying to get from a to b. Like everyone I would always like more time.

What’s the secret to a good life?

Spending time with friends and family but most importantly laughter and fun in everything we do.

We hear all about Workplace by Facebook at their London HQ

A great turn-out for our annual Summer gathering

IoIC Awards 2017

Tell us a bit about your role:

As chief executive, my role is to provide leadership on the day-to-day running of IoIC, working with the Board, head office team and our volunteers, to deliver the Institute's portfolio of activities and strategic vision. Whilst driving and elevating the voice for the internal communication profession and its purpose to create an informed, engaged and connected workforce to drive organisational performance.

What’s on your internal comms agenda right now?

We are the only independent professional body solely dedicated to promoting a deeper understanding of internal communication and helping our members to be the best they can be - today, and in the future.  We do this by helping to develop skills and knowledge and address the challenges being faced by the profession. Some of the key challenges we see on the agenda are:
1. Measurement of our impact - how can we demonstrate the work of internal communication, how it influences and supports organisational culture, drives behaviours but ultimately influences productivity, innovation, sales, profitability and the overall performance of the organisation in achieving its objectives. It's providing and developing our own strategic narrative. 
2. Engaging leaders and line managers - there is no doubt that honest and authentic communication is the key to establishing trust in an organisation, but a key barrier to successful internal comms can be engaging leaders and line managers in your activities. We need to find new ways to bring them into our decision-making processes, enabling their buy-in and/or understanding, so their impact can be leveraged in our IC strategies. 
3. Employee voice and culture of conversation - IC as a function is playing a bigger and more recognised role in driving organisational culture, as we seek new activities and strategies to create dialogue and collaboration. We are recognising the importance to encourage and empower employee voice, placing people as central to the solution and ensuring a safe space where they are listened too and part of the strategic vision for the organisation.

Who or what has had the biggest impact on internal comms in your organisation in the past year?

As the leading professional body, our internal communication is based upon the dialogue we create with our members. In this last year we made the decision to return to print, which was right for our audience needs, as we wanted to create increased space for members to share best practice and really talk in more detail about the key topics and challenges we are facing.   

So we launched Voice magazine, which has had the biggest impact for us. We combine this with our social media and other digital channels to ask members and the wider profession for their input, as we want to make sure as many voices can be heard. It helps our members to see what is happening in the profession, its a safe space to share and gain practical tips and insights to help with their work.

What’s your proudest achievement or best day in your current role?

There've been so many highlights since being part of the IoIC that I wouldn't say there is one achievement, but seeing the overall impact we can have on people's careers and the IC profession as a whole, is the best part of my role. I love speaking to members and learning how we, as a professional body, can help people grow and make then feel good about themselves and their careers.  It's a very rewarding job to be in.

How would you advise someone considering a career in internal comms?

Internal comms is a fantastic career, but unfortunately, we still need to build our recognition from a career point of view. So many times I hear “I fell into it”, which is such a shame as in my eyes it is a privileged place to be. Internal communications allows you to see, first-hand the impact you are having by making employees feel good. It’s rewarding, varied and dynamic. In my opinion we need to see more graduate roles in IC and promote it as a career path in line with other areas in PR and communications. 

So my advice to someone starting out would be to build your internal and external networks, spend time with all employees and leaders ensuring you actively listen to understand their passions and aspirations, but also make sure you spend time to really understand the organisation’s strategic context so you can demonstrate the impact of IC.

What do you think are the top three trends in internal communications to watch out for in 2018?

1. Cutting through the noise - working on our messaging to be shorter, sharper and more visual, but also understanding our audiences, how they like to consume content but also interpret messaging, to enable improved segmentation techniques and personalised messaging to increase engagement. 
2. Behavioural understanding and sentiment analysis - we have typically relied on the annual engagement survey to inform our impact and future strategies. I think as a profession we are building our knowledge and skills to understand the practices to include neuroscience, to really understand the behavioural and human aspects, measuring how people think, feel and do. 
3. Conversation and employee champions - we appear to be focussing our developments at leveraging trends in digital tools to help encourage conversation and collaborative working, utilising employee champions to help drive their successful adoption. We need to devise strategies that create a positive employee experience which ultimately will drive customer experience.

© pfk the communications agency.