The growing pains
Are we developing the competencies
we’ll need for the future?
by Lee Smith
Are we trusted
advisers with a
seat at the table,
or “crafters and
who do the job
and go home?
Employee communication has gained a reputation for gazing in the mirror. One senior practitioner once described the field as being like “a trouble- some teenager, with constant mood swings and a never-ending obsession with how they look.”
I can appreciate where she’s coming from.
As communicators, we alternate between
being wonderfully confident and woefully insecure; from having real clarity about why we exist, to having
deep-rooted doubts about our role
The struggle we face essentially
boils down to this: Is communication a science or an art? Are we
hard businesspeople or soft “people
people”? Are we trusted advisers with
a seat at the table, or “crafters and drafters”—technical experts who do the job and
The truth is, it’s a spectrum. At one extreme is the old caricature of the communication function as some kind of “internal post office”—pumping out memos, sending out stuff and cascading messages to the rank and file. Toward the other, more
valuable end is the notion of the trusted adviser—the communicator who coaches
and counsels senior leaders, who participates in C-suite decision making, and who
helps shape the strategy of the organization, not just communicate it.