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Are you in an internal communications rut?

It can be lovely when you’re in a good groove. But what do you do, asks 44’s Tom Abbott, when circumstances change and you’re thrown off track?

It can happen. We do a great job week in, week out. Our channels and content are (usually) on point and employees seem to be pretty engaged.

And then something changes and the things you relied on aren’t working quite as well. An organisational change or reduction in budgets means things are a bit more difficult. Our old, reliable, go-to channels just don’t seem to be as engaging as they used to be. Employees seem bored or distracted.

A few days ago, I set up a training session for youth cyclocross riders. The course included a nice little chicane section on a slope which the riders initially found pretty challenging, but after some practice they nailed it. They went around and around, getting a nice brown rut marked out in the grass which they all started following as the correct line.

So, to challenge them, I switched the direction. The lead rider sped off, following the same rutted line through the chicane, but in the opposite direction.

Crunch. One, two, three riders hit the deck and the whole group ground to a halt. The familiar rut just wasn’t working.

Different approaches

It was interesting watching the riders problem-solve in action. Some resolutely stuck to the muddy line and just couldn’t make it round the chicane. Others started experimenting, trying different approaches and lines into the corner, and through rapid trial and error figured out the most effective approach in the new direction.

In our roles delivering internal communications and engagement, we have to be wary of just following the same rut, especially when circumstances change. Even a small shift can create significant communications challenges. We should always be prepared to challenge ourselves to experiment and test whether we are approaching things in the right way, or just a familiar way.

Experiment with new ideas

Managing this is easier the more you play and experiment with new ideas. Practice and experience are invaluable – hopefully learned in a safe, calm environment, but often forged in the heat of crisis!

Sometimes stepping out of the rut and trying something new can be daunting, so seeing how others have handled similar situations can be reassuring.

And sometimes, you just have to accept you might land on your backside a few times before finding the right route.

If you’d like to try something new, discuss how you can shake things up or simply avoid a tumble, get in touch.

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