The IC Citizen movement needs a manifesto. A statement of intent which sets out what the movement stands for and what those who follow can do to support it. I invited other internal communicators to have their say about what should go into the manifesto in a short survey. Here are the results.
The IC Citizen movement needs a manifesto. A statement of intent which sets out what the movement stands for and what those who follow can do to support it.
I think that there are a few things which define IC Citizenship and which should appear in the manifesto. I decided to invite other internal communicators to have their say in a short survey. Thanks to all the internal communicators who took part.
There were some comments captured in the survey which revealed that there are some misconceptions about The IC Citizen and why I created it. So, before I share the results of the survey, I’d just like to recap what The IC Citizen is and isn’t.
What is The IC Citizen?
I created The IC Citizen because all internal communicators are faced with a challenging future which some of us are not ready for. The world of work, and the reason internal communicators exist, is changing fast.
These changes are fundamentally reshaping communication within organisations and the role of every internal communicator. We need to adapt to these changes if the internal communications profession is to evolve its purpose and capabilities, remain relevant and be fit for the future.
However, there are many internal communicators who are ‘in’ the profession but are not really a ‘part’ of it. They have an internal communications job, but are not active in continuous professional development (CPD), don’t regularly or ever connect with networks of other internal communicators and some are not a member of a relevant professional body. They are not active ‘citizens’ of the internal communications community and this holds back our whole profession. It diminishes our ability to evolve collectively and quickly to resolve the challenges of the future and become the truly strategic business and management function we crave to be.
I created The IC Citizen movement to ‘do my bit’ and help address this by encouraging all internal communicators to participate in activities which reinforce learning, development and the sharing of knowledge and experience. The IC Citizen is about investing in yourself and others, so that we all become better at what we do and remain relevant. It is a key which could unlock a more secure and fulfilling future for all internal communicators, and improve their capability for the benefit of businesses and organisations.
The IC Citizen movement is not a professional body, although it shares many of the same objectives. There is more about how I see the relationship between the movement and our professional bodies later in this blog, as there were some comments about this from survey respondents.
The IC Citizen is also not a membership organisation, and is open to any internal communicator regardless of status or level of experience. All you have to do to join the movement is to commit to one or more of the seven characteristics I’ve described in my earlier blogs, and eventually whatever appears in The IC Citizen Manifesto.
In the survey I included eight statements which I asked respondents to rate on a scoring scale of 0 to 100, where 0 was strongly disagree and 100 was strongly agree. A score of 50 or thereabouts indicated neither agree nor disagree. The eight statements were:
Networking to share – Being a good IC Citizen includes networking to make connections with others in the profession and supporting them by sharing your knowledge and views.
Debating new ideas – Being a good IC Citizen includes participating in debate whenever you can to share and test new ideas, so that we can collectively evolve the internal communications profession.
Challenging stakeholders – Being a good IC Citizen includes offering constructive challenge to stakeholders when they make tactical requests with no clear business objective. By doing this we can educate them about the true power of internal communication.
Entering Awards – Being a good IC Citizen includes entering and winning internal communication awards competitions if you can, to actively share good work and expertise. By doing this we can add to our collective body of knowledge and actively raise capability in the profession.
Mentoring others – Being a good IC Citizen includes mentoring team members, colleagues, peers and others (formally or informally) to build future capability in the internal communications profession.
Committing to CPD – Being a good IC Citizen includes committing to engage in meaningful continuous professional development (CPD) activities and regularly doing so.
Professional body membership – Being a good IC Citizen includes joining a professional body which is relevant to internal communications if you are able to do so.
Ethics – Being a good IC Citizen includes practicing internal communications in an ethical way, which is honest, fair and transparent.
Here is the average score which respondents gave to the statements (55 people responded to the survey). I have ranked them in score order so you can easily see which had the most and least agreement.
|Debating new ideas||85||=#4|
|Networking to share||85||=#4|
|Committing to CPD||84||#5|
|Join a professional body||67||#6|
I also analysed the spread of how individual respondents had scored each statement as a percentage, which gives a more accurate view of the degree of agreement, disagreement and of the proportion of respondents who had no strong agreement or disagreement.
|Old Rank||New Rank|
This view does not shift the rank order of the statements very significantly, when ranked by the percentage of respondents who were most in agreement (Score >= 61). However, it does demonstrate where there was the widest spread of scoring with ‘participating in CPD, ‘entering awards’ and ‘joining a professional body’ attracting the greatest differences in opinion and the lowest rankings.
What will go into the Manifesto
I think that there is enough agreement within the survey results to translate all of the statements into the manifesto, although I did debate with myself whether or not to include something about ‘entering awards’ since this had the lowest agreement.
Ironically, my recent blog about internal communication awards was the place where the concept of ‘The IC Citizen’ was born. I think that there is a huge untapped potential within internal communication awards competitions to share knowledge and experience. To unlock this, entrants should be doing more to share what they know as part of the process and follow up, and award promoters need to be helping them to do that. I’ve included a link to ‘The great internal communication awards overload’ at the end of this blog if you’d like to read more about this. Do get in touch if you’ve any strong feelings for and against including ‘entering awards’ in the manifesto.
In the survey, I also asked respondents if there was anything else which we could include in the manifesto beyond what was covered in the eight statements.
Many of the comments made relate to the existing eight statements in one way or another, so I will try and blend those into how the statements are articulated in the manifesto. However, there is one important additional feature which needs to be added into the manifesto based on some of the comments given. Here are a few of them:
“Passion for ensuring all people are fairly represented and given equal opportunities”
“Kindness; Inclusivity; Mindfulness”
“Inclusivity and diversity”
“Values – e.g. ethical, inclusive, empathetic etc.”
I will include something in the manifesto which makes it clear that IC Citizenship is also about committing to support the creation of an inclusive and diverse profession as well as an inclusive and diverse workplace.
What could The IC Citizen movement do?
I also asked in the survey what The IC Citizen movement could do or offer in the future to support internal communicators to put what appears in the manifesto into practice.
It’s clear from the comments made that internal communicators want more opportunities to network, share challenges and access resources which help them to do their jobs better. Within the UK, they want this on a more regional and local basis. There were also some underlying sentiments expressed that they would like to be able to access more free or low cost options to connect with others and to develop their knowledge and skills.
I need to reflect on these comments further to establish what I personally and The IC Citizen movement could do collectively to promote the manifesto and support those needs. There are already a lot of existing free or low cost networking opportunities and a wealth of learning resources available for internal communicators, so perhaps some better signposting to these things is required and the movement could facilitate that.
The relationship between The IC Citizen and our professional bodies
There were a few comments and questions in the survey about how The IC Citizen fits in with our professional bodies and their agendas. One comment, in particular, resounded with me because it’s how I have thought this should happen ever since creating the movement.
“Work with IoIC on their We Matter at Work campaign – no point duplicating and we will benefit from a collective approach.”
The IC Citizen is absolutely not about duplicating effort and is very much about being a part of a collective approach, to raise capability in internal communications. However, that approach is not just the responsibility and exclusive domain of our professional bodies and their existing members. It is about all internal communicators ‘doing our bit’ to learn and develop, become better, more capable and encourage others to do the same whether or not we are a member of a professional body. Investing in yourself and others, to do that, is what The IC Citizen is all about.
As a member of both CIPR and IoIC, I’m a bit disappointed and concerned that ‘joining a professional body’ was second to last in the rank order of manifesto statements in the survey and had a large spread of opinion. On the face of it nearly 40% of respondents disagreed with, or have no strong feelings about, being a member of a professional body in the context of the manifesto. If this is representative of everyone who works in internal communications, then it’s a bit of a headache for professional bodies and their members (like me). We need to find a way to better explain the value membership of a professional body can bring to everyone’s career development, to make membership a more attractive option.
I think that becoming a member of a professional body is probably the quickest way to unlocking your potential as an IC Citizen, but as it stands at the moment you are not compelled to join a professional body or have any accreditation from one to be an internal communicator. It is your choice whether or not to do that. For those people who don’t, I hope that The IC Citizen Manifesto will be your best guide as to how to be better at what you do.
Let’s connect our ‘tribes’ to future proof internal communications
Since I started The IC Citizen movement I’ve had an uncomfortable and growing realisation that the internal communications profession is currently split into a number of separate ‘tribes’. Far more so than I had imagined. Some tribes have coalesced around membership of a number of professional bodies and their different interpretations and standards of what ‘good looks like’ for internal communications. A much bigger tribe are not a member of anything and are making their own way using their own individual standard or no standard at all.
Then, there are tribes within tribes, some defined by access to larger budgets, resources and bigger teams and others who practice internal communication in organisations on their own with next to nothing. We need something to happen to join up and connect all our tribes, so that we become a more cohesive profession which shares what we know across boundaries and works towards a more common standard. We need to future proof ourselves, and united we will stand!
I think our professional bodies could do more to help our tribes join forces and take the collective approach which was highlighted by one of the survey respondents. Until this happens I hope that The IC Citizen movement and manifesto can make a small contribution to joining up our profession for everyone’s benefit.
Watch this space. The IC Citizen Manifesto is coming!
Until The IC Citizen Manifesto is shared, you can read about the seven characteristics or activities which define IC Citizenship on The IC Citizen home page. Here you will also find a link to my recent blog ‘The great internal communication awards overload’ which is where the concept of The IC Citizen first appeared.
The Institute of Internal Communications #WeMatterAtWork campaign is an excellent initiative that examines employees’ sense of purpose and value at work by focusing on how we communicate with them. One of the three elements of the campaign is about internal communicators sharing best practice and opinion to demonstrate the positive difference that great internal communication can make to people at work. Sounds familiar!?!