Which word in
management, and HR, is possibly used more than “millennial”? My vote goes to
VUCA. This acronym stands for a state of being that seems to define our world
today, and again, I’m not talking about just HR but the world of tech and
business in general. Things are volatile, uncertain and complex for sure, with
more than a dash of ambiguity thrown in, just for fun. Like I like to call it,
it’s the complete upside-down world! Should such a big deal be made about this?
I’m not so sure. But should we still take it seriously and look at how it
impacts our roles? Definitely.
The role of
communicators and other business enabling functions is a crucial one in times
of uncertainty and flux. Especially if we are in organizations that value
employees as their biggest assets. Therefore, we need to get on board the VUCA
train and pick up things along the way. As always, at the center of
communications will be three important traits: Creativity, Innovation and
Empathy. These three will form the underlying principles on which we build our
Let’s take a
look at what we need in order to communicate effectively in this world:
Speedy decisions and actions – This is
an important aspect, and usually a tough one to take on, especially in large orgs
which may have many levels of hierarchy. Speed is a crucial element in
responding to change through communication, as employees today receive all
their information at the press of a button. Communicators should work towards being
the first to share news on internal channels, before a news or Google alert
pops up on their phones.
Love Learning – Without a thirst for
learning all things new, communicators will soon turn redundant or irrelevant.
Going after the new is what keeps us going.
Ride the waves of business and technology – As a communicator, we cannot work in a vacuum of what just the
people want. To stay relevant, it’s important for us to ride the tidal waves of
business and technology with equal ease. This is especially true nowadays when
the disruptive nature of emerging tech trends is shaking up businesses
everywhere. In some cases, this may mean that some of our roles may not exist
in the future, but we will still be required to navigate the confluence of
people, business and technology. We must be comfortable enough with tech trends
to help business transform themselves, while giving the people the information
they need to facilitate their own individual transformations. Of course, we
need to remember the “human” element in all our communications, and amplify it
too. Tech enablement without the human touch is too severe a measure.
People and Customization – For internal
communicators, the workforce and their views are strong forces that tend to
require attention that is detailed and focused. What I mean is that, given the
diverse nature of global workforces and the unique
cultural/generational/business views that are born of this, a “one size fits
all” approach communications can no longer work. Customization is the name of
game, especially when one’s workforce largely comprises of millennials who are
tech-savvy and always on. Additionally, managers and leaders are two groups
that benefit from customized communication, leading to better team management
and employee engagement.
One of the plus sides of working on customizing communications is
that you can mould employees into being brand ambassadors that focus on
different areas of your employer branding plan, including CSR and volunteerism,
social media, networking, etc. Brand ambassadors are crucial in retaining and
attracting great talent. This is more so
true since the lines between internal and external worlds is blurring rapidly.
With a completely mobile-enabled workforce, internal communications now extends
into the external social media space as well. This is closely connected to the
first point of speed and agility being at the center of all communications.
Driven by data – A common concern in
communications is measuring the value of the campaigns and work delivered.
Sure, views on a video and hits on a portal determine reach, but does that
really make a change in company culture? Maybe not. It’s time to find lateral
ways of measuring communication success. Does an email about innovative teams
see an increase in ideas logged on the company collaboration platform? Does a
blog about the importance of recognition correlate to an increase is the number
of reward points meted out to a unit? We might need to look far afield to find
other ways of measuring communication success.
Finally, in our world, the role of Internal Communications as a
function is to simply keep it real.
Give leaders the true view and pulse of employees, show employees the true
nature of changing times and uncertainties while giving them the confidence and
platforms to navigate through this. Sure, the picture might not always be rosy,
but that’s alright, we all learn together! While the term VUCA may send an
involuntary shiver up some of our spines (me included), some of us go out and
actively search for this world. It’s like the highest rollercoasters at the
craziest theme parks – the thrill of the ride overrules any anxiety!