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

Sharon Kennedy

Company

Engage & Prosper

Job Title

Founder and Principal Consultant

Time with company

3 years, 4 months

Connect with Sharon

Take five

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

Well I have been given so much brilliant advice over the years. The two more recent are, “you are the average of the two people you spend the most time with” and I think that has some real truth about it. So, pick wisely. The other is “live in today (the present), yesterday has gone and tomorrow is a gift”. For different reasons these two pieces of advice are really simple, yet really powerful to me.

If you could be a fictional character, what would it be?

I think I would like to be black beauty, you didn't say it had to be human! he had quite a tough life but one full of love, living and adventure and ultimately a happy ending. That's got to be pretty good by most people’s standards hasn't it?!

Who would play you in a movie?

Jennifer Grey in Dirty dancing, though I'd need to go on a serious fitness regime first!. I was about 12/13 when the film came out, I had a perm and was told I looked like her by far too many people at the time. Besides I always wanted to do the log scene and I have actually achieved 'The Lift' once but wouldn't risk that again. Poor fella!

What’s the one thing not many people know about you?

I was shortlisted for a series of Alan Sugars ‘The Apprentice’ once, but I couldn't attend the selections due to a new job. I would have loved the challenge of the series at the time, though it has since changed a lot over the years, no doubt due to production pressures and audience figures. I preferred the original approach.

If you could choose a mentor who would it be?

Sacha Romanovitch the CEO of Grant Thornton. I've reached out to her just recently via the power of Twitter. I saw her at the Grant Thornton offices in London giving a presentation about their own journey with employees at GT. An inspiring, sincere, heartfelt and very powerful presentation and without a script. I would work for her in a heartbeat and I would love her to be my mentor, so, maybe this extra plea might catch her eye? Sacha, I'm a single mum, business owner, ambitious and giving, with a noble and realistic purpose and would truly love to have you as my mentor (however often for however for long). Will you please do me the honour of allowing me to be your mentee?

Useful links

Tell us a bit about your role:

In the main, my role is to set the vision, purpose and solution value proposition for our marketplace offering. This is really all about helping employers better understand and therefore leverage what motivates their employees to perform at their best every day and to ultimately want to stay with the employer. We offer employee engagement-related professional consultancy services, often enabled and deployed through a variety of leading technology products and platforms.

My days (other than that associated with running a business, like marketing, accounts, making the tea and of course emptying the bins!) include talking to all kinds of organisations, as well as different senior leaders and managers, often in very different albeit people-related roles, about their people and organisation challenges. There's no surprise how closely they are connected! It might be agreeing a survey solution, education and learning workshops, to employee onboarding and comms apps, to internal comms campaigns or designing and implementing the most suitable reward and recognition programme.

As a qualified CIM chartered marketer and mentor, as well as having come from a global consultancy background in people performance and motivation and having worked with hundreds of SMEs throughout my career, I try to ensure we are able to offer real world and practical solutions with price tags to match. That way I personally, and the business, can work with as many organisations as possible. We don't want price to be the reason someone chooses not to work with me and my team at Engage & Prosper.

What’s on your internal comms agenda right now?

As a small organisation and social enterprise, we’re not big enough (yet) to need formal internal comms solutions of our own. We communicate all the time about how we work, what our clients need and think, as well as keeping close to what's happening in the industry and within organisations when it comes to comms trends.

It's our job to keep a close eye on what is happening, so we can properly advise our clients and make sure they know what they should be aiming for and what solutions may be most impactful for their internal audiences. This all affects the customer value propositions and so we really try to help optimise this.

One of the biggest trends we’re currently following is the recognition that generations have often different preferences and embrace different technologies in their own unique way, not just because of ages but uniqueness. Organisations and comms professionals really want to understand what is of interest and value to their employees and are seeking to provide almost customer grade comms content to employees to aid the right behaviour change. Analytics and insight is a key priority when it comes to content generation and the overall strategy.

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

I guess I would have to say client feedback, we actively encourage feedback from clients good and bad and that has helped us to shape our solutions and hone our offering even further. Rather than guessing and anticipating only, what employers and our clients want, we ask and actively listen. Much like we encourage our clients to do with their employees. Are you spotting a pattern of similarities here? Yes people to people, everyone has something valuable to give and share, we all just need to harness it and act on it.

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

Actually getting Engage & Prosper established and securing the clients we have already. It’s a well-known stat that most businesses fail within the first three years. We work really hard and engage with both small and large organisations. I am very proud of what we have achieved so far. Everyone loves employee engagement as a topic, but really understanding how we drive it for positive behaviour change is often not clear to prospects and clients. Therefore, it's a long sales cycle, but we really try to come at it with the entire employee experience approach to truly understand and clarify a client’s issue before we recommend a solution. We find this approach makes for more effective, better and longer-term relationships, where there is mutual trust and respect for what each part plays in achieving the results both parties seek.

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

My advice would be to develop a thorough, operational understanding of how businesses work and really focus on understanding people and what makes them unique. This is the only way to plan and deliver internal communications that is meaningful and effective.

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

1) Content generation strategy

2) Analytics and insight

3) Understanding the uniqueness of employees

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