The benefits of L&D partnering with its internal communications team
In the battle to spread the L&D message effectively across your organisation, it helps to have allies. This is where working with your internal communications can benefit you.
It can be easy to find yourself in an ‘L&D bubble’, staring at a blank page trying to come up with an engaging message for your learners. We actively encourage our clients to reach out and make use of the close links between marketing and L&D. ‘Think like a marketer’ is one of our most repeated mantras.
There’s another area of the business L&D professionals can benefit from getting closer to – the internal communications team.
Working closely with your internal communications team can help you tailor your messages to ensure they are personalised and relevant to employees across the business, and delivered through the best channel.
Misunderstood, underrated or at worst ignored, internal communications are perhaps most often (and unfairly!) thought of as the team responsible for sending internal newsletters.
What you may not realise, however, is that internal communication teams encounter challenges very similar to those facing L&D. Communicating with a multigenerational workforce across agile teams, struggling to engage employees, and measuring effectiveness – all are familiar issues to L&D professionals.
This means internal communications are in a unique position to help you.
Here are three ways you can use their expertise to improve your messages about learning.
Tailor your message for your audience
The workplace is now filled with five generations, meaning offices contain an unprecedented mix of age ranges, from experienced traditionalists (born before 1945) to fresh-faced generation Z (born after 1997).
Although this combination brings a healthy contrast of skills, perspectives and approaches, it presents a major challenge to communicators.
Why? Each generation has a preferred method of receiving messages. While email might be effective for generation X, a mobile app may well be the choice of generation Z.
This is where your colleagues in internal communications come in. They will be familiar with this obstacle and will already be communicating initiatives organisation-wide in an engaging way.
For them, getting buy-in is all about telling employees what’s in it for them, and to do this, they must know how this varies across the organisation, depending on age, role and time served with the company.
For agile organisations, there is another level to this. Consideration must also be given to how their agile or dispersed workforce will want to receive communication, and how they might have different learning needs to their office-based colleagues.
So, while they may not have all the answers, working closely with your internal communications team can help you tailor your messages to ensure they are personalised and relevant to employees across the business, and delivered through the best channel.
Reinforce the message
On a broader level, by partnering up with internal communications, you can reinforce each other’s messaging.
Let’s say your organisation is rolling out a change initiative, such as agile working. Internal communications would take the lead and create a campaign to support the changes, putting together a plan to target staff at all levels with clear messaging that explains how the changes will affect them in their day-to-day roles.
Adding what marketers term a ‘call to action’ – something employees need to do as a result of the information – would give these messages added impetus.
This strategic alignment between L&D and other departments such as internal communications and marketing is what this transformative era is all about.
This is where L&D can step in. Any organisational change initiative brings the threat of uncertainty – what will this disruption mean for employees? Will they have to reskill or upskill to adjust to the new way of working?
Here’s your perfect opportunity to offer people upskilling opportunities, to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to adapt. By partnering with internal communications, you can integrate your messages about learning into their broader change communications.
It’s not complicated - this can be as simple as having a link to your learning portal at the end of an internal email.
By partnering with internal communications, you can make sure your messages are heard and become a reassuring voice for people navigating through change.
Create a cascade
Your learning solutions can be as good as you like, but if they aren’t targeted strategically to achieve maximum impact business-wide, it will count for nothing.
Your internal communications colleagues should have strong links with key stakeholders across the business, and it’s their links with line managers that offer the most potential for L&D.
Managers are an underused resource. Research by Jenni Field on remote workers underlines the important role line managers play in communicating and engaging employees, and the 2019 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report states that while a significant number of employees would take a course assigned by their manager, very few ever hear about learning from them.
Therefore, it is essential that we get managers on board with learning, so they can spread messages about learning, generate enthusiasm, and reinforce its importance in one-to-ones with their team members.
Your internal communication colleagues are perfectly placed to help you do this. Ask them to introduce you to key department leads and managers, and make sure you understand how they target managers effectively with their current messages.
Don’t just settle for telling line managers what they need to do in respect of L&D - find ways to communicate and engage with line managers, so they become advocates of your learning solutions and help ‘sell’ them for you.
Getting managers invested in learning is such a huge step towards creating a wider learning culture in your organisation - I can’t stress it enough.
To me, this strategic alignment between L&D and other departments such as internal communications and marketing is what this transformative era is all about.
It’s time to get out of your bubble and find yourself some allies in internal communications.
Interested in this topic? Read How to influence in the overwhelming world of communication.
Kerry Pascall is the Director of eLearning Solutions at Fenturi Ltd (previously Bray Leino Learning). Kerry’s role includes management of everything eLearning and she thrives on delivering outstanding results every time. Her experience includes analysing business and learning needs, designing, managing and developing learning solutions, and...