London Underground’s Head of Internal Communication: “Don’t get left behind in 2015!”

Hester Gras

 

Heather Wagoner - Internal Communications at London UndergroundThe third Internal Communications Conference will be held in London from March 23 to March 25, 2015. The event is for Internal Communications and Employee Engagement leaders to learn about the latest developments in this fast-changing marketplace. London Underground’s Head of Internal Communication and Engagement, Heather Wagoner, will share her insights on keeping up with the industry’s changes at the conference. imgZine got the opportunity to interview her and learn more about this exciting topic.

1. What are the biggest challenges facing the internal comms sector?

We as Internal communications practitioners need to make sure that we are partnering with the leaders of organisations strategically to operate as advisors and coaches. Don’t just perform a transactional set of tasks; think about their impact on business decisions as well. Our input should help leaders arrive at better business decisions.

Also, don’t wait to find a leader who’s a ‘champion of communications’. Instead, turn the leaders you have into better communicators by coaching them and building trusted relationships. We need leaders advocating on our behalf in the rooms we aren’t in to help build credibility for communications at the organisational level.

Coach your colleagues and turn them into advocates for your internal communications strategy. Source: Hollandse Hoogte.
Coach your colleagues and turn them into advocates for your internal communications strategy. Source: Hollandse Hoogte.

2. In which areas do you think the sector needs to change and why?

I’ve heard for a long time now that in Internal Communications we’re in a ‘revolution’. Yet, the same conversations about channels and frustration over a lack of influence prevail. While there are so many industries that have fantastic insights to share and adapt, we seem a bit reticent at times to tap into that best practice. I think we worry too much about the ‘not invented here’ syndrome, when actually (as an industry) we should be endlessly curious and welcome influence from a range of sectors. For instance, if you want to know how to run a successful campaign, look at PR and Marketing. Want to know how to gain influence with senior leaders? Look at Psychology.

3. What are you doing to help change the sector and how did you implement these changes at London Underground? Could you give a concrete example?

I think employees expect to be treated as individuals now, with individual preferences and individual voices. Our traditional audience segmentation techniques are helpful to identify employee groups, but the reality is that they don’t always address individuals within those groups. We see our communications miss the mark time and time again, with communications pros often getting caught in circles of endlessly trying to tailor messages for smaller and smaller audience groups. In my opinion, the key is creating messages that appeal to employees on a ‘human’ level rather than a role, location or even generational level.

London Underground workers
London Underground workers

4. You are speaking at the Internal Communications Conference in March, could you let the readers know what to expect?

I’ll be presenting with my colleague, Paul Facer, Senior Internal Communications Business Partner, on how biases are at play in communications – both in practitioners and in audiences – and how we’re working to overcome these barriers in a campaign that we are running to implement one of the biggest changes in the history of London Underground – the Night Tube.

Hear Heather Wagoner speak at the Internal Communications Conference on March 24, 2015.

You can follow Heather Wagoner on Twitter (@Heather_Wagoner) or the website www.commsnerds.com

 

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