What are the attributes of high performing internal communications talent?

26 Sep 2016 by Nadina Grad.

In my view, passion is the driving force of an outstanding professional in any sector – and this was evident over the last couple of months in my conversations with leading internal communications professionals in my network, discussing what they consider to be the key traits and skills in an outstanding internal communications talent. Internal comms specialists have a long list of skills and competencies which they see as crucial in being a high performer – but ultimately the way they use these skills and competencies will vary according to the role, company and team structure. That being said, I found that there were a number of recurring responses to my question, ‘What makes an outstanding internal communications professional?’, and here they are –

Solid awareness of their business

Having a strong understanding of the business and sector is crucial for an internal comms professional, and knowing what outcomes the business wants to achieve in having an effective internal communications function is especially important. Without having a thorough knowledge of this, they will not be able to engage employees effectively and guide them towards that collective goal.

Knowing their audience

It’s vital to know the target audience and be able to develop a communications strategy which revolves aptly around them, also using the most relevant channels. From my conversations with internal communications specialists, it seems that this is one of the key challenges an internal communications professional will face – getting to know their audience so that they can decide on the content of the message, and also see what channels exist within the organisation that they could utilise.

Relationship building

The ability to develop relationships quickly and effectively at all levels is an important string in an internal comms professional’s bow. This is important because it creates credibility in their role and serves to influence senior stakeholders, as well as engaging employees to make things happen and achieve desired results. By creating these successful relationships, an internal communications specialist will inspire trust and respect within the organisation – able to valuably and credibly coach, consult and represent the business.

Strategic thinker

It’s vital to understand the internal communications process from end to end. An outstanding internal comms expert must be a strong strategic thinker, with a creative streak so they can design the strategies, and also be willing and proactive in keeping up to date with new developments in the industry – with ever-changing elements such as technology and social media. This helps to retain a competitive edge and deliver the internal communications strategy in the most effective way possible – as well as developing their own professional prowess.

Writing skills

The skill in translating the corporate message of the organisation and communicating this clearly and deftly through multiple channels, shaping the same message into different content to several different audiences, is an underpinning skill of an effective internal communications expert.

Emotional intelligence

Many senior internal communications specialists shared their thoughts on the need for a high level of emotional intelligence which they felt was crucial not only in understanding the audience and their needs, but also for working effectively on the strategy purpose, implementing this empathy and understanding within an influential internal communications strategy which delivers the desired outcome.

What do you consider to be an integral trait or skill for an exceptional internal communications professional? I would love to hear – tweet @theworks_nadina.

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