Dancing and Finding Joy

In my imagination, Viola Davis is my ‘auntie’, but my family are concealing this information from me. I am going to borrow a pearl of wisdom from her to briefly explain my take on a piece of not so breaking news that came out recently. While accepting her Emmy in 2015 for outstanding actress in a drama series for her portrayal as professor Annalise Keating on “How to Get Away with Murder, she said, “The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity. You can not win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there." I mention this in the week when Twitter is awash with claims of Beyonce refusing to work with Reebok because of their lack of diversity, and the CIPR State of the Profession is published — showing that our industry is becoming less diverse and failing to protect the mental health of its professionals.

If diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being allowed to dance, then who is the DJ playing the music or the bouncer at the door enforcing the 'guest list' with the VIP’s who have the proverbial red carpet rolled out and the velvet rope raised for them. Some days I feel like this industry is one long evening of a silent disco. If you have never been to one, it is a fun but unusual experience. We are all wearing our various headphones each tuned to a different channel. On the dance floor we patiently wait for the DJ to work his magic, but sadly he may not switch on the music for everyone so they simply can’t dance. Because as my wise ‘aunt’ mentioned if the opportunities aren’t being offered then how do we ensure that we have true inclusion. If you don’t give me the chance to lead the teams, speak at conferences on communications and public relation principles, design campaigns and advance to positions that hold real power and influence then how do you expect me to win the awards or sing the melody of inclusiveness.

Comms over coffee

Ella Minty shared, Fixing the Flawed Approach to Diversity by BCG, which unpicks the defects of diversity and inclusion initiatives. Nodding to advancement and retention as a gap for inclusivity of BAME talent gives what Viola mentioned weight. Hiring diverse talent to fill quotas and then failing to nurture talent to move further in their careers to reach their full potential is similar to an employer and our industry selling us the artistic impressions, but choosing not to build the house year after year but keep referring to the plans.

So, I am at the party, and I am going to dance because the DJ is giving me a song to dance to and Polly Cziok has promised to bring the cocktails.

A full list of different blogs and articles analysing the report can be found here.

Now on to more joyous matters. This week I attended an evening with Bruce Daisley, EMEA Vice President of Twitter, author of best-selling book The Joy of Work and the host of the podcast Eat Sleep Work Repeat. I highly recommend the podcast for anyone interested in internal communications.

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Bruce explored many things that I will go into further in future posts as I study more and dive into the book. I am going to outline some of my key takeaways from the evening and what I am changing.

  • We need to future proof ourselves by upskilling in the areas of inventiveness and creativity.

  • The hustle culture as it’s popularly known which glorifies working dangerously long hours is contour productive to creativity.

  • Positive Affect and Psychological Safety have the most significant impact on workplace culture.

  • For an internal communications professional there is a danger of trying to implement quick fixes. At times organisations can create the ‘Smoothie delusion’ that tries to put everyone in a good mood, through improving the benefits that have a one time impact but they do little to transform the state of mind.

  • As Bruce explained, “There are no simple hacks to resolve these things, you need to think about a system to resolve these things to try and build a state of positive affect using far more strategic long term approaches.”

  • Psychological safety doesn’t scale. Amy Edmondson which Bruce references to said, “For fear of appearing ignorant we don’t ask questions, for fear of appearing obstructive we don’t raise objections, we are at a state of managing the impression.”

  • Systems of fear kill our capacity to be creative. But even more, concerning is how fear and stress linger in the air like a bad hangover.

What I am changing:

  • Turning off my notifications

  • Taking a lunch break away from my desk as much as possible

  • Have more face to face interactions

  • Foster an atmosphere of collaboration

  • Develop techniques to improve my energy efficiency

Find an extract of the book on the podcast and I will share my thoughts soon. If you can’t wait listen to Sally’s take on the podcast #CU on the air.

Secure to Innovate and Create

A few weeks ago I read Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown which has challenged me to think about vulnerability and how I dare my own limits to be a better communicator. Looking at the State of the Sector report by Gatehouse and the Edelman Trust Barometer I am even more curious about how the conditions in our workplaces allow us to be creative and innovative. I am running this survey to try and understand whether psychological safety is something that is important to our industry regardless of specialism.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation creativity and change.
— Brené Brown
Create your own user feedback survey

For some context psychological safety is a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking. It can be defined as "being able to show and employ one's self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career" (Kahn 1990, p. 708). In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected.

I would really appreciate it if you could feel out this short survey. I would also love to hear your thoughts or experiences.

Resources

High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety. Here’s How to Create It by Laura Delizonna

How To Create Your Own Psychological Safety At Work by Karlyn Borysenko

Next Chapter

I waited a long time out in the world before I gave myself permission to fail. Please don’t even bother asking. Don’t bother telling the world you are ready. Show it. Do it.
— Peter Dinklage

Going into 2018 I had no resolutions or grand plans. All I knew was that something needed to change. And boy has there been change.

This year has been one of the best years of my life, as far as my career and the opportunities that have come my way go but, it has also been lonely and at times dark.

I have pushed myself out of comfort zone, stepped up and gone the extra mile, without being asked or seeking permission. On the other side of the same coin, I have experienced Imposter Syndrome on a grand scale for the first time.

So why would I choose to start another year with uncertainty, looking for a new job? Because the time is right. Am I scared? Of course, I am. Do I know what comes next? Not in the slightest. Am I afraid of change? For sure. But I’m ambitious and apologising for that does nobody any favours.


18 PHOTOS, MY 2018

Learning from failure

As I sip my Sunday coffee I ’m reflecting on something surreal that happened this week.



I am a finalist for an industry award for the first time. Scary.

A campaign I developed, ran and managed made the finalist list of the 2018 UK & European Employee Engagement Awards in the Internal Communications category.

As someone who never wins anything, I didn’t know how to feel. When I was completing the submission, it took me a while to believe that my work was worthy of being entered. But thankfully the deadline coincided with Public Service Communications Academy 2018, so I was surrounded by my incredible network who gave me the extra push I needed and our Head of Communications was there every step of the way to help me.

Whether we win the award or not in January, I have already won. I have turned a failure into a career-defining moment.


It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.

J. K. Rowling

 

In April I went through an interview process for an internal communications role at a housing association. Failing to get through to the next stage was hard, but I understood that I had to develop my understanding of communicating with internal audiences better and have real tangible examples of my work. Maybe it was fate but once I decided to learn, things started coming my way that allowed me to increase my knowledge of internal communications and employee engagement. I developed the ‘Be Epic’ campaign for our IT service delivery team which is the shortlisted project and support a number of our services internally with their messaging. I also met Rachel Miller Director of AllthingsIC, the industry guru who has since taught me some invaluable lessons.

I have plugged in more with our corporate change manager who regularly shares her insights from a change management perspective, and we now work on more assignments together. 

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

 Henry Ford


What have I learnt over the last six months from this failure?

  • The proof is in the pudding.

  • Find or create my own opportunities to develop the skills that I need because nobody is going to do it for me.

  • How to measure effectively and be dynamic.

  • To have the courage to get out of my comfort zone.

  • I may fail again, and that is okay. In fact it is what I need to grow.

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

Ken Robinson

  • I have to trust my gut.

  • How to design and execute an award-worthy internal communications campaign at zero cost that solves a business problem.

  • How to prioritise as a business stakeholder.   

  • Develop a stronger network of professionals working across various discipline of communications and industries.

 

Some of the great resources that have helped me develop my internal communications skills.

AllThingsIC

Comms2point0

Gatehouse

LG Comms

The IC space

Institute of Internal Communication   

 

I also have a couple of submissions in the Unawards and the shortlist is out on Thursday 14 November, so fingers crossed. But in the meantime, what are you waiting for the unawards18 public vote is open

You have a tough, tough challenge now to select the winners from three important categories:

Lifetime Achievement

Comms Team of the Year

Best Guest Post of 2018

You can cast your votes HERE

The public vote closes on 26 November (midnight)

See you in Birmingham for the Unawards on Friday 7 December

Ask Better Questions

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If there were no restrictions on my life, self-imposed or otherwise what would I do?

Since asking myself that question seven months ago, my life has changed in a way I struggle to put into words. While I am having one of the best years of my life with many un-forgetful moments. I am in the same breath being the bravest I have ever been, all because I question the barriers that have stopped me in the past. This change can be rooted in my choosing to ask of myself something different and challenging.

I sat down in the café in Clapham and even though I was scared out of my mind, I took out that pen, and in that leather, notebook scripted the life I want, deserve and am going to hustle for.

It frightened me, but I was the only who could change the blueprint. It was no longer enough to say I have goals. I had to use my imagination to design something that way beyond what I thought was possible. I changed the questions, I asked myself, the world, my industry and those closest to me. I’ve had to ask better questions. I’ve had to be courageous enough to seek answers. What is stopping me from being a great communications strategist?  When am I going to create and execute an award-winning campaign? What is my story? What do I bring to the table that nobody else does?

Deciding what kind of career I wanted as a communicator meant that I've had to analyse everything that I did. From which events I attended, books I read, courses I took, mentors I sought, projects I accepted, and my attitude towards work. A month ago, at Comms Unplugged, Sam Hodges, Head of Communications at Twitter UK, said something that cemented these thoughts for me.

What skills do you need to be more strategic?

For me, it means looking at the list and thinking, ah. How do I figure this out and start to develop in a particular area? But I have to be brave and think outside the box because there will be some skills that are just impossible to develop in my current role. How do I then find ways of improving them while still excelling in my current role?

On this pursuit I came across Vishen Lakhiani and began to understand how he uses questions to explore goal setting. He essentailly asks three questions. I’ve found this really helpful.  

What experiences do I want to have?  

How do I need to grow?

What contribution do I make to the world?  

I hope this helps someone who is thinking about change in any area.

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The easy way to build a personal brand for success

I recently did a talk and panel at Wework South Bank called The easy way to build a personal brand for Outreach Digital a group that I volunteer for, and that is actively developing the digital and marketing community in London. 

My top tips

  • Spend time designing your life and honing your vision
  • Find your unique selling point
  • You can do it with zero
  • Bring authenticity to your networking  
  • Just start  

I hope the resources, books, podcasts, websites and information I provide in this  Presentation help you. 

 

 

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