I quit this book a couple of chapters before the end. While it had many redeeming qualities, it was hard work and didn't feel worth reading.
My main criticism of this book is that it's packed with fluffy corporate euphemism. Why say "financials have been impacted" when you can just say the money is running out? Terms like "alignment", "listening sessions", "reaching out" are all here in spades, too. It grates after a while, and makes the book longer that it needs to be.
What's more, the "Field Model" doesn't really feel like a model. It feels like a collection of tools in a toolbox, but not a system or a process with structure. Even then, those three tools are simply 1) figure out the problem, 2) understand why it's happening, 3) fix it. There's little else.
This is a shame. For example, it focuses on the importance of finding a root cause in "Fix", but doesn't suggest a methodology for finding that root cause in a systematic way. Something like Five Whys might have been useful.
However, what it's very good at highlighting is the importance, nuance, and difficulty of successful internal communication. So while this is a useful read, it doesn't feel very applicable in a working scenario.
'Internal communication includes everything that gets said and shared inside an organization. As a function, its role is to curate, enable and advise on best practice for organizations to communicate effectively, efficiently and in an engaging way.' (Page 9)
'Internal communication is something every organization has. Whether there is someone managing it, looking at it strategically, or there is just a rumour mill doing the work for you, it exists.' (Page 29)
Internal communication isn't employee engagement. To clarify, this is what employee engagement looks like:
'An organization is not a real thing. They are myths. The tangible, literal aspects of an organization are the assets (buildings, cars, etc) and the people. But the 'organization' is something we have created.' (Page 59)
There are six core components to all orgs:
The size of the org is irrelevant: it will always have the above elements. But, when it comes to how you deliver any kind of internal communications, we need to consider more elements:
Rather than looking at an org chart, ask how people actually interact? What's really happening?
'The data shows that the channel and content is actually irrelevant if the manager is not a good communicator - so if there is one that will help communication inside your organization, it's investment in line managers and their communication skills. Small tweaks can make a huge difference to efficiency and productivity in the workplace.' (Page 66)
Your purpose is paramount. What is it? Say it out loud, regularly, and connect it to the "how" of it all.
People have a built-in desire for information. They crave it, whether it's good or bad. It's better to have the news, even if it's bad, than no news at all.
They also value fairness. Are people treated fairly? Do people feel they are? This must be addressed first.
There's also a strong need for community and social connection. We need to know someone cares about us.
Ambiguity is a serious problem. Even though some will protest, we really can't be comfortable with it. We must know. We therefore have to remove it wherever possible.
Curiosity and novelty is important, too. How do you keep people interested without distracting them too much at the same time?
There are three elements to motivation:
Trust takes time to build but can be destroyed in moments.
Fear is enormously damaging.
'Context is everything and in organizations the story that accompanies the information has to be combined with the risks so it reduces the worry and fear. We remember stories 30 per cent better than just facts. Add an image to that story that evokes an emotional response and you have got the brain totally engaged' (Page 100)
There are three parts to the model:
'Communication is the fundamental component, the golden thread, that runs through everything. It is representative of culture, it is the articulation of the strategy and it's what we need to function as a group or community. So yes, communication covers it all.' (Page 122)
People leaving en masse or going off sick, post-M&A alignment mess, external messaging not chiming internally, two or more teams not getting on well, growth leaving things "not feeling quite right."
This stage needs plenty of listening and probing questions to get to the heart of what the problem actually is.
In this stage, Field recommends a variety of methods for diagnosis. This again depends on the size of the organisation, but is mostly about data and some form mix of listening interviews, group sessions, or focus groups.
There are four areas that Field outlines as key things that generally need fixing:
I write a newsletter about the internet. It's called Internet Connection. There's a few hundred of us that fall down the rabbit hole every other week. Want to come along for the ride? Drop your email below.