Interactive conferences are great for sparking ideas. I loved Mike Klein‘s #WeLeadComms Open Conference on Communication Leadership. Not only was this attended by people from across the globe, but they were all intently focused on employee communications and best practice. One of the many interesting people I met was Ray Walsh, who shared his book, Localizing Employee Communications: A Handbook, with us. It got me thinking…
The global-local challenge is complex
I’ve recently finished a series of interviews with managers and staff worldwide for a client who wanted a better insight into how internal communications was working in their company. Our project team at Open Communication heard from our interviewees that they were feeling frustrated. What was missing was the context around corporate messages, what was relevant to them and where they worked. Language was also an issue with some people who didn’t receive or perhaps understand corporate internal communication messages. This is because their native language was not English and the messages simply didn’t get through. Senior management were equally frustrated with the lack of visibility on what was happening on the ground because they’d never heard anything back.
We have done quite a few of these audits recently for different clients and unsurprisingly we often see the same situations play out.
‘But we have very clear rules on cascading information’. In my experience, cascading information only works well to reach the top three levels of an organisation or when the law requires it (e.g. content that could have an impact on the stock price). Information rarely goes effectively back up the chain again and it completely misses the modern goal of engaging the people within a company. I saw this when I was in-house. My colleagues and I also see this with clients.
What we all ultimately want is for central and regional communications to align AND be flexible enough to make local communication with employees appropriate, meaningful and rich with relevant, local context.
That is why I enjoy catching up with like-minded professionals. I’m always inspired to see what others are doing. It was such a treat to talk with Ray about his latest book on international collaboration, and giving room for cultural and linguistic interpretation. It is about having trusted, skilled local communicators to work with central teams to co-create relevant, engaging content for your people. Ray covers everything from the pros and cons of different models, leadership, governance, budget, quick wins, capabilities and resources as well as different types of content production.
“Global awareness needs constant maintenance.”… “Translation doesn’t always work.” Ray Walsh
Because this is such an essential topic to global internal communicators, I invited Ray and Cecelia Maldonado, who is a professional translator and business owner, to delve into this further with me on the International Association of Business Communicator’s (IABC) Europe, Middle East and North Africa (EMENA) podcast.
You can listen to our discussion on localising global communication with Ray Walsh and Cecilia Maldonado on Soundcloud, iTunes, Spotify or subscribe to IABC EMENA with your favourite podcast catcher.
You can order Ray Walsh’s book Localizing Employee Communications: A Handbook on Amazon. Disclosure: I have not received any incentives to write this review. I truly think it is an excellent and worthwhile contribution to the employee communication body of knowledge.
Are you working globally? Do you want want to know the current state of your internal communication?
As a global team at Open Communication, we look forward to having an open and engaging conversation with anyone who is looking for more effective ways to engage with their people. We offer everything from internal communication audits, strategy development, executive sparring and resource support to campaign work and training.