FavouritesPodcasts

Season 2 Episode 11: Victoria Ford

By October 12, 2020 No Comments

Episode 11: Changing Culture
With Comms

With Victoria Ford

Episode Summary:

2020 has been full of change. Professionally and personally, everyone has been faced with huge changes. But are companies ready to deliver the change in culture now required by so much of the workforce?

Victoria Ford, a business transformation specialist at Perago, discusses how companies and leaders can focus on the changes they need to make to support their employees now and in the long term.

Victoria is also a member of the Comms Unplugged community which provides a space for comms professionals to connect and provide or find support.

You can contact Victoria via:

Victoria.ford@perago-wales.com

https://twitter.com/torfordy

Listen & Subscribe On...

Apple Podcasts

Spotify

Google Podcasts

Episode Transcript

Jack Ford:

Hi, Victoria. Thanks for joining us on season two of Remote Control. It’s great to have you on.

Victoria Ford:

Hi, thank you very much for asking me.

Jack Ford:

So, before we dive into our conversation, which is going to be around business change and transformation, it’d be great to hear a bit more about you and also the work that Perago do as well.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah, sure. That’s be great. So, I am … I don’t know, how do I describe myself? A specialist in comms, business change, transformation. I’ve been working in the change space for probably about 10, 15 years now. Initially started off doing business change actually for a government organization and then got involved in comms. So, I’ve got quite a weird career path into being a head of communications, which I was in the civil service for a while, but because I was so interested in the way that people respond to change, what organizations need to do to support people through change, and also the role then that internal communications has to play in that. So, that’s my background space. I left the civil service some four or five years ago and set up Perago with some colleagues.

Victoria Ford:

We’re an SME based in South Wales, we’re based in Swansea, we’re all from Swansea. And we work primarily across organizations, doing public service delivery in Wales, but we do go wider as well. And we work with people on their transformation around the organization, digital, and my role particularly in that looks at the people, business change, and communication side of it.

Jack Ford:

Oh, wow. So, it’s really quite a broad piece that Perago look at, because change is everywhere, isn’t it for business, especially at the moment?

Victoria Ford:

Absolutely. And I think, we talk to … If we say we do digital transformation, which is kind of what we do, people quite often think that means technology. And whilst, as a team, we do have a fairly good background and understanding of technology … Can’t say that, technological change, actually it’s far more than just technology. For me, it’s more about people and the way that people respond to change, about how you use digital tools to provide better services for your customers, whatever that service is you provide. So, we very much focus on the whole organization, on what we call user-centered service design. So, designing the services that you deliver around the needs of your users. So, really understanding what people need to do to be able to interact as smoothly as possible with an organization.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. That makes total sense and echoes some of the other conversations specific to internal comms that I’ve had on season one of this podcast, where it was actually one of the questions I would ask would be, what tech and what tools would you recommend? And most of the answers always came back with, “I don’t really start with the tech and the tools.”

Victoria Ford:

Absolutely.

Jack Ford:

“It’s all about the message.” It’s what is the takeaway that’s needed at the end or the change that is needed to happen? And then, almost work from that and how are people set up to receive it? So, it might be great to invest in this brand new technology, but if the workforce doesn’t have access to work mobile phones, or they’re told that their mobile phones must stay in the desk during the nine to five, suddenly having an SMS tool or a push notification tool’s pretty useless at the end of the day.

Victoria Ford:

Not going to work.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. So, that was … Yeah, it echoes.

Victoria Ford:

And it is interesting because I think it’s great when people are seeing new technology working and it blows our minds, all of us, doesn’t it? What it can actually do for you. So, people thinking about that in a work context and how it can make the way that we do things better is great. But actually if you jump to that, “Oh, I’ve seen this whizzy thing in this organization, can we have one too, please?” Chances are you’ll end up with something that no one uses.

Jack Ford:

Yes. Yeah. I think everyone can think of at least one tool in their current business that sounds and looks good, but has not really been used that much.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah.

Jack Ford:

That actually reminds me of a question that … Because we’re here and want to talk a little bit about internal comms, change, and remote working. When I first started the Remote Control podcast, it was based around this, what seemed like an outlandish claim that 50% of workers would be remote in 2020. Now-

Victoria Ford:

Can you imagine?

Jack Ford:

God, can you imagine such a thing? I don’t think that the people who did the research quite foresaw what was going to happen this year, I don’t think anyone has done.

Victoria Ford:

No.

Jack Ford:

Certainly in a work environment as well. So, I guess, when we’re talking about working remotely, there’s a lot that gets talked about in terms of the tools. But I think, maybe this year more than ever, it’s become really apparent to everyone that it’s the culture of the business and its leaders that are so vital for remote working to work for employees, and also to keep that business performance going, it can’t just be suddenly that, okay, everyone has to work remotely.

Jack Ford:

And yep, it’s great that we’ve got Teams or we use Zoom for one-to-one calls. That’s just not going to cut it. It needs to be that culture of keeping in touch with people, being self-motivated at times as well. It’s a lot more than just a tech and it just really mirrored what we’d already started talking about.

Victoria Ford:

And I think that’s absolutely right. So, prior to the pandemic, working with organizations, most of the organizations I’ve been working with, our company have been working with, actually were pretty well set up from a technology perspective for remote working. Maybe not to the extent that we’ve now found ourselves in, but actually people could work remotely if they’d choose to or if their job allowed them to do. What tended to be missing is that cultural piece that you’ve just mentioned, the moving away from that idea of presenteeism, that unless you’re sat at a desk somewhere, you’re not working. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like that everywhere. Lots of places there was a great culture and people were able to work when they wanted to, but it was always that sense of actually you’ve always got to be on, always on, always there in one way or another. And that was the kind of cultural stuff that people were finding very challenging to be able to move people into a truly flexible way of remote working.

Jack Ford:

Yeah, totally. I think even if I think to how I’ve been working and streamGo, who I work for, were flexible in the first place, I would work from home one or two days a week anyway, I was structured around childcare. So, that flexible working was already there, but it was a bit of a change I needed to make rather than the company in terms of, just because I could look at my emails on my phone didn’t mean that I had to, or that I could get instant messages on my phone. It’s like, actually, people are going through a lot in the summer and yes, there’s a message there, it can wait until I finished my morning shift with the kids during lockdown, when schools and nurseries weren’t open as usual. And it’s just kind of working that out for myself is perhaps something that took me a little bit by surprise. And I don’t know how many other companies really almost forced their employees to take a step back from working, which is a very odd sentence to say.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. And I think that probably, it was a bit of a shock … Well, a lot of it was a shock to all of us, wasn’t it? But actually, if you think we’ve had years and years of culture ingrained in us about during working hours we work, whether that’s nine till five, 12 till 10, whatever your working hours happen to be. That’s when you were very much in work mode, that you were expected to be available, that you were expected to be responsive, and for lot of people expected to be physically present in an office space of some description. And I think that obviously all got thrown right up in the air and no matter what organizations would do to support you technology-wise, to work within that, as you say, getting your own head personally around what that meant for you and allowing yourself to behave differently has been a massive challenge.

Victoria Ford:

And I don’t think a lot of people still … I’m not great at it. There’s lots I could be doing better about switching off. My kids are older, my son’s 15, but he was having a go at me yesterday because I was checking messages on my phone when he was trying to ask me a question at eight o’clock in the evening. We’re not great at switching off and we need to make more of an effort to do so. One of the things that I saw right at the start of lockdown with one client we were working with, was a really good message shift, that happened quite early on because they recognized this. And one of the things that they started asking us to think about was how we could get the message across to the organization that actually, right now work didn’t come first and that was okay. And it was okay to say that and to accept it.

Victoria Ford:

And they introduced a slogan that said, “Self, family, work, in that order.” So, we started using that throughout the organization, and I’m not sure, if I’m honest who came up with it, but it was probably someone who is a bit of Garth Bale fan, because I don’t know if you’re a football fan, but his line when he was in Madrid about, “Golf, Wales, Madrid, in that order.” So it seemed to ring a bell. But it actually became quite a strong message that we then found people in the organization repeating back at us. When you realize that these things have worked, because people are telling you that that’s what you need to do as well. And I thought that was quite a positive and quite brave step for the organization to come out so openly and say, do you know what, right now the most important thing is looking after yourself and your family, because if you can get that right, the work will come anyway.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. That’s a really thoughtful and quite emboldening or empowering message that, to get that from your … Whether it’s your line manager or if it is corporate communications as a whole, it feels like that would really put your mind at ease and hopefully help you strike a good balance during the time when it was almost impossible to work out what that balance was really.

Victoria Ford:

And it works in the organization’s benefit as well, doesn’t it? If you think about the emotional contract that you have with your workplace and your work, if you feel that somebody’s supporting you when you need it, you’re prepared to support them when they need it as well. It’s that two-way piece that works really nicely.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. And you can imagine people come into the third piece of that, looking after their selves, making sure their family is right, and then it’s the work, you can imagine them being in a maybe more energized or positive mood to deliver or be more productive within that time.

Victoria Ford:

Exactly.

Jack Ford:

And I’m not saying that’s why the company said it like that, but you can just imagine that those unintended benefits of making sure everyone’s looked after.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. It works in both ways, doesn’t it? It’s that way of getting it to know that someone cares, actually. It’s one of the things that I think has really shifted in the language of organizations over the last six months, people are actually talking about some of the more emotional elements of people in work, that perhaps weren’t talked about before. So, it’s okay to say you care and it’s okay to say that you’re struggling and it’s okay to give people space. And I think it’s been really beneficial that we’re not just giving permission to people to do things, but actually recognizing these challenges front on.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. That makes total sense. And you mentioned there being a change in attitude towards the emotional, the personal side of things. And that really reflects what Emma Tucker from Temenos said in the last episode of this podcast, where her company, Temenos, had changed their messaging from being fairly business-focused, and they were always traditionally a high growth company, lots of product launches, awards and accolades. And that was the kind of communication that, this is the way forward, this is where we’re going. And she mentioned it quite quickly, but organically changed during this year to a personal approach and focusing on the people of Temenos. And she said, that’s even going to extend into their external communications, and instead of case studies, was what she said, case studies would usually focus on purely on the results and what technology was implemented. Whereas they were going to change to be about what impact it had on the people, at their clients, at the banks, how it made them feel, how it changed their days. And I thought that was really interesting and totally mirrors exactly what you’ve just said today.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. And it’ll be interesting in months, years to come, how that shifts, not just individuals within organizations, but work cultures as a whole.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. Yeah. You think it would be pretty unrecognizable even next year, with the amount of change that’s happening in 2020. And unfortunately, you’ve seen businesses having to make cuts and you just hope that it’s the culture side of the thing comes along and doesn’t get ignored and cut at the same time as some of the resources, and that the people that are still working there and moving into different roles are able to get that support and really feel a connection to the company. If and when we get out to this pandemic crisis mode.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. Whenever that might be.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. Can’t put a date on that one just yet, doesn’t seem like.

Victoria Ford:

No. No.

Jack Ford:

So, you mentioned there that one of your clients quite quickly at the start of lockdown, shifted their message to the self, family, work, in the order. I was just wondering if there were any other immediate changes that you saw your clients needing help with?

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. And I’m sure internal comms practitioners across the country will recognize this, there was that obvious need and that people had for more information and changing information. The pace that things were moving, particularly, March, April, May time, although I’m not sure it’s calmed down that much now, but being able to ensure that people had what they needed to make the decisions that they needed to make for themselves personally, and to be able to work at a time that worked for them, and that was in a timely way when that information was becoming available, but also in a way that worked for them as well. One chief executive I was working with said to me at the very outset, “We need your help more than ever in the internal comm space, and actually I want people to feel more connected than they ever have before in this organization, even though we’re all now working remotely.” And I thought that was a really … Well, I don’t quite know the word, but quite forward thinking approach to it.

Victoria Ford:

So, I felt personally quite, do you know what, I want to work with this person who feels that that is how things should be, because they’re absolutely right. This is an opportunity for us to ensure that everyone can find a way to be connected when we could possibly be feeling the most disconnected from work than we ever had. So, the amount of internal comms and the amount of messaging and the need for new channels just went through the roof with most of the clients that we work with. And that was probably the most immediate response and need that we saw to all of this.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. I think that the chief execs focused on getting those connections there, you can imagine and you can see how that would play such a big part in someone’s life, when the other connections that … If you think about maybe at the start of the year where you come to work and you’d make the connections, you’d do the job, but you’d also then have the opportunity to see your family, see your friends at the weekend or after work, and suddenly those connections were being really limited as well. So, the fact that the business wanted to almost step up and make colleagues even more connected, you could really see how that could really foster a sense of community at a time when those connections were in danger of being broken at work and in people’s personal lives.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. And people are in different situations, aren’t they? People are living on their own, that becomes obviously even more difficult, but actually even people living with families, you mentioned small children, that’s really tough. When you’re trying to manage your family as well as work and finding different ways to stay connected in those different circumstances becomes really important. Even on a really small level, one team that I was working with, we decided straight up that I’d be available along with one of the other colleagues there for at least half an hour, every day at 10 o’clock on a particular channel and anyone could drop in at any time. And actually there’s always somebody, it’s quite a small team, but somebody always drops in and sometimes it is literally just to say, “Hi, are you okay?” With a cup of coffee and have that chat, because I just didn’t want anyone to feel that they were completely isolated or on their own.

Victoria Ford:

And as in a work environment, you can’t solve all of those problems, but if you can just do that little bit, that might make it that little bit easier for somebody. And actually for me personally, I thrive on talking to people anyway. So, it was great for me because it meant that I kept having that connection, that my kind of way of working needs.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. That sounds like a really good initiative and I think having those intentional points of contact or the opportunity to have those contacts is really important. And I know if I think about how I’ve interacted with my team, it changed from having a weekly update where we chat about everything to do with marketing and actually in this remote world, that just didn’t really feel right to have a meeting on a Monday morning or a Tuesday afternoon to talk about that. And then, you’d potentially get lost in your work. You work in different patterns. I was working different hours, so that me and my wife could look after the kids and carry on working at the same time. And before you know it, you’re back to Monday or Tuesday and having that meeting.

Jack Ford:

And that’s just crazy not to have that interaction with a small team. So, we broke it down to have shorter meetings, individual meetings about key topics and points where you’d be mainly focused on just that one thing. And that certainly felt a lot better, certainly you felt that you were seeing more people, more of the time, throughout different days. And it did feel like there was a bit more energy in the work as opposed to having to do a massive download of what’s been going on in the week, and just that little tweak felt good.

Victoria Ford:

And I think we’ve all had to make those tweaks, haven’t we? Because actually, we do all … I don’t know about you, but I miss those stood in the coffee queue, having a quick chat with someone you haven’t seen for a while, or just been able to swivel your chair around and shout across the room to somebody about something they’re doing, or seeing somebody as you get out the car in the morning and having a quick chat about how they’d spent their evening last night. Yeah. It’s those small interactions that, for me personally, I find the most challenging not to have. So, you make time for formal conversations, but how do you replace those smaller interactions? Has been quite a challenge.

Jack Ford:

Yes. Yeah, totally agree. And it’s just actually reminded me that this time last year we were well into the midst of the company bake-off tournament and sampling all kinds of treats. And that’s just … Yeah, that’s been laid to waste this year, unfortunately.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. Yeah. And it’s hard for people. It’s hard for all of us, isn’t it? Personally, I don’t think that you can just replicate those in any way, but there are things you can do just to try and make it a little bit better. And it’s some of that personal interaction stuff becomes the important replacement, if there is such a thing.

Jack Ford:

Yeah, yeah. No, you’re right. So, you mentioned that immediately when lockdown was introduced, that businesses, people were racing towards the communication, making sure people have the right communication, that it gets to the right places. Maybe new channels were being opened up. Is that the same now, are those the same challenges that people are facing or asking you questions around or has it changed slightly?

Victoria Ford:

No, there’s been a definite shift and I think that shift came somewhere in the summer, maybe. It’s hard to put a finger on it, isn’t it?

Jack Ford:

Yes.

Victoria Ford:

And someone said to me once, “I’m not working remotely, I’m working from home during a global pandemic and it’s a very different thing.” And that’s what those first three months very much felt, that this wasn’t a normal situation in any stretch of the imagination. It wasn’t just, I’ve gone from working two days a week from home, to five. This was trying to just get by, but as people came out of lockdown a bit … And I know we’re in local lockdowns again, and people have got similar challenges, but it opened up more opportunity for people to start thinking about what comes next.

Victoria Ford:

And I think even though we’ve got challenges now, that thinking about what’s next, has started to come into the way organizations are talking and planning and really thinking about what that workplace of the future looks like. I know there are some people who hate working from home or are unable to do so, or find it very difficult, and can’t wait to get back to some kind of … Whether it’s an office environment or something else. There’s some people who love working from home, who might want to do five days a week from home, but most people seem to be somewhere in the middle and I think that’s where the real shift is going to be. So, organizations are starting to ask that question around, well, actually, what does the future workplace look like? Not necessarily office, that workplace, and what does it need to be, and what are we going to want from it?

Victoria Ford:

So, it feels like we’ve moved away from having a desk where you come in and you sit from nine till five to do a job because you have to be sat at a desk to actually, I need to go into a workplace because I have a specific task that I need to do or something I have to achieve that’s better done in that way. And I think that question around what does a workplace look like and what do we need to give people in the future that allows them to have the flexibility to be the best they can be? To actually respond to what people need to work well, rather than what an organization felt had to happen, just because it’s what we’d done for years and years. So, I think that question around future workplaces is a really important one.

Victoria Ford:

And I think a lot of senior leaders, well I hope a lot of senior leaders are getting to that realization that presenteeism isn’t the answer, it’s about actually supporting and providing the environment that people need to work effectively. And all of that … And it’s like this hasn’t changed at all, actually, it’s about trust. It’s about having trust in your colleagues, in each other, in leadership. Leadership trusting in the organization, that people will do what’s best, but how does the organization support them in that? And then, within that, what’s the role of change in communications in making that happen?

Jack Ford:

And so, when we’re talking about workplaces and it’s potentially … My mind went straight to, okay, well what’s best for me to do my work? But then, that potentially negates what we were also talking about with the less formal communications that happen in a shared space. And I just wonder around businesses and leaders that are planning or starting to think about this change from office to workplace, to a hybrid between people being in and people working from different spaces and how teams maybe need to manage the fact that it would be ideal, or it might be good for more than one person to be in a location at the same time. And how that will be different from how people are used to just working and doing what’s best for them right now. It’s maybe going to be a bit of friction there between the individual and the company, or and the team again, potentially.

Victoria Ford:

This goes back to really understanding what people need, and I say, what people need rather than what the organization needs, because I think if you can understand what your people need, you can start building an organization around that, that will help you meet your needs better. So, understanding what’s needed for people to do their job effectively. And some of that will be, whether it’s, “I need to go into a collaborative space once a week to bounce ideas around about a new project,” or right down to, “Well, actually I need to be face-to-face with the client,” or it could be, “I just need a quiet space where I can go and work.” And we need to understand what all those things are and look at the most effective way to provide that. Now, it’s not going to tick every box, but then the workplaces we had before didn’t tick every box for everybody.

Victoria Ford:

And I think that when it comes to the role of internal comms in that, it’s about getting people involved and exploring what some of those things could look like and testing them and getting feedback, and really having that two-way dialogue that an organization can really get involved and understand what’s going to work now in this very short to medium-term piece and more longer-term on that. And that will be a whole mix of things and I think one of the things that I’ve seen so much over the last six, nine months, is people trying new things, they don’t always work and that’s fine, but actually keep bouncing new stuff out there and see if actually that’s something that can help fill a gap or not. Whether that’s some of the things that you might already be familiar with, like internal blogs or web chats or webinars, getting leaders up in front of the organization in different ways, or through to new online tools, whether something like Miro for doing whiteboards.

Victoria Ford:

Someone said to me the other day, “We’ve reached a point where we need to start thinking about how we do things differently. It’s not about, ‘Oh, I need to wait to go back to the office to support colleagues.’ We need to be able to learn to do it differently now. ‘I can’t wait to go back to the office to performance manage someone.’ We need to learn to do it differently now.” And I think that realization that this is a longer-term piece that is going to shift the way we do things, is allowing people to actually be more creative and think about things differently. So, what are all those answers? I don’t know what they all are, but actually that people are exploring different things and trying them out and recognizing that it has to be different, is a massive step.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. It certainly feels like everyone’s recognized that what was happening before was maybe ticking along and if we think back to the first part of this where I talked about research has said that more people will be working remotely and then the pandemic happened, but there was this shift that was happening anyway. So, getting people used to the idea was a little bit drastic this year, I suppose. But it was-

Victoria Ford:

It’s one way of doing it, but not one we would choose.

Jack Ford:

No, no. Don’t think it was quite-

Victoria Ford:

But actually saying that, there’s an opportunity here. We never thought that we’d be in a place where that change bit happened so quickly. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s been easy for people and it doesn’t mean … A few people have said to me, “Oh, it’s been great because in six months we’ve managed to get further than we would have done in our change program in six years.” Well, yes, and that’s good, and we need to find the positives in that, but actually people will still have found it hard. Change is still hard for people and we need to recognize that and support them. But yeah, there’s some really good stuff that’s coming out to this. I was chatting to someone the other day about how this situation has been a great leveler.

Victoria Ford:

So for example, in Wales where I work and live, geographically, North to South Wales doesn’t look very far, but to drive it takes forever. It’s the most beautiful drive, if you’ve ever done it you’ll know. If you don’t, you should, when you can, because it’s magnificent scenery, but it takes a long time. So, when you’ve got an organization that we’ve got some people working in North Wales, some in West Wales, some in South Wales and you’ve always got the people in one office with one or two people dialing in. That’s actually not a very good balance, that geographically, everyone on Zoom together, everyone on Teams together, or whatever platform you’re using, suddenly you’re all in the same place. So, it’s a real leveler from a geographical, seniority, positioning in an organization, where everyone can start to feel more equal and people starting to feel like that allows people to contribute more and feel more involved and part of an organization. So for me, it’s how do we take those really good things that have come out of this and adopt them in whatever our new world is going to look like?

Jack Ford:

Yeah. That’s a really good point, and especially on the leveler point of view from when you mentioned seniority, and I can think back to meetings that I’ve had, that people I know that’ve had with their seniors, their maybe line managers or higher. And you suddenly, you see what their spare room looks like or their kitchen looks like, and you notice the pictures on the wall, and you do get more personality from someone that you perhaps … That you might subconsciously put a bit of a work barrier in the office, that does fall away a little bit.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. But there’s also the other side of that. I do know that some people really struggle with that actually, they like their personal space and they don’t like sharing that bit of their worlds. And you get some people, for example, that just don’t like having their videos turned on in video calls, and actually, even me personally at first I was like, “Oh, that’s a bit rude, isn’t it? I can’t see their face. I can’t see what they’re up to.” Because I like seeing people, I like chatting to people, but actually if that was making somebody uncomfortable in their workplace, because that was now their workplace, as well as their home, then actually that’s fine.

Victoria Ford:

And I just think we need to take the positives, so where it does allow you to engage with people and feel part and understand people, brilliant, but actually cut people some slack as well, about understanding what works for different people and making sure that organizations can reflect all of that. Again, it’s going back to that bit about the user need and really understanding what people need to be effective.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. Yeah. And yeah, I guess, like you say, it’s never going to be a blanket, one-size-fits-all approach that gets the best performance or best result.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. And you’ll have seen the debates on Twitter as I’m sure we all have, someone says, “I love this working from home,” and then he gets a million people saying, “No, I hate it.” And la la la, and then vice versa is happening. And it just shows that we’re different, people are different. We respond differently to different situations at different times, depending on who we are and what’s going on around us. And that’s something that organizations are really going to have to think about. And not just … But that’s just a massive opportunity to create a different way of working that actually gets more out of people because we’re treating them as individuals and allowing them to work in a way that actually works for them as well as the organization.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. I think on that note for internal comms, that I guess, my mind is thinking that that presents a whole new challenge, the fact that there is going to be potentially a more disparate number of channels that people want to use or communication is slightly different for different people. And it’s making sure that the … Maybe not the skills because the communication’s always going to be there, but maybe it is starting to think about the tools because we looked at the user needs and it’s understanding how people want to receive information, how they best engage with it, and then seeing how that can be delivered and which messages need to go into that. It’s potentially something a little bit new or a little bit different to those initial stages of, oh my gosh, we’ve got so much information we need to get out there. There’s so much change going on. And it’s just-

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. And well, when I’ve worked with organizations on this, I’ve actually encouraged them to put a little bit of structure around it. So, actually put a bit of a framework in place around how you’re going to communicate, with who, and how often. That may seem really basic but when you’re in the midst of this kind of change it’s very easy to forget that and suddenly just use every channel you can think of, fire it out to everybody and hope for the best. Actually, if you take that little bit of time to step back and plan and think about what you’re trying to achieve, who you’re trying to reach and how do you open up those two-way channels of communication? And that might result in you saying, “Do you know what? We need to put this message out via six channels,” but if you’re doing that knowingly, because you’ve understood your audience and know what’s needed to help support them, then that’s a good thing.

Victoria Ford:

It’s when you end up doing it ad hoc all over the place, that can be challenging for the people receiving the information as well. I don’t know about you, but I seem to have on my phone at the moment, I’ve got Slack, I’ve got Twitter, I’ve got WhatsApp, I’ve got Teams, I’ve got email, and I forget which channel I’m having a conversation on, to with whom sometimes. I was like, I know someone sent me a message. I can’t even find it anymore, but I’m trying them all out.

Jack Ford:

Yeah, yeah. I’ve got that situation, but it’s actually with my daughter’s school, she just started school and there’s at least three or four different apps or parent mail that are getting used, and it’s really confusing as to which one goes where. And yeah, I get some, my wife gets some-

Victoria Ford:

Lost in it. Yeah.

Jack Ford:

… and it’s like, “Oh, did you see that one?” I said, “No, didn’t see that one.” So, yes I can totally see how that could happen.

Victoria Ford:

Yes. And part of that is, these organizations are responding really quickly to this stuff and they’re trying to put new channels in place and they haven’t worked out what the best one is to reach people. And I cut people some slack on that, we’re try to muddle our way through it.

Jack Ford:

Oh yeah.

Victoria Ford:

But as a user, you’re right, trying to find the right channel. But, hey, when my kids were starting school, they had no electronic channels, so count yourself lucky.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. Crumpled pieces of paper in their backpack.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. That’s about it.

Victoria Ford:

Although, there’s something to be said for that as well.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. Yeah. Just about always managed to get home, I think.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah.

Jack Ford:

Okay. That’s great. So, I mean, so this podcast is called Remote Control, so I couldn’t really do it without asking for tele recommendations. So, what are you watching and anything that you would recommend?

Victoria Ford:

Oh, I’m going to show myself up being so far behind in this one. So, what we’re watching at the moment, which my 15 year old son got us watching, because he thinks it’s hysterical is Friday Night Dinner. Don’t know if you’ve seen it?

Jack Ford:

Oh, yes. Yeah.

Victoria Ford:

I think it was on some mainstream channel at some point, it’s on Netflix at the moment. And I have to say, it makes me chuckle. I’m not a laugh out loud person with television, but it makes me chuckle, not least because episode by episode, I’m just starting to think that my husband and myself are turning into those parents in that, I think we have become them, and I don’t know quite how that happened and it makes it even more cringe-worthy.

Jack Ford:

Yeah. No, that’s funny, that it’s a recommendation from your son, but suddenly seeing yourself in that.

Victoria Ford:

Oh no, it was horrible.

Jack Ford:

Oh, that’s good. No, I’ve seen a few of those, but not all of them, but actually Jennifer Sproul from the Institute of Internal Comms mentioned that as one of her recommendations too. So, yeah-

Victoria Ford:

Yeah, I do, I love it. And they’re only … For people like me who can’t concentrate on television very long, they’re only half an hour episodes. I can’t be doing with these two hour episodes at a time things that you need to binge watch. So, half an hour in there, have a good laugh, say to yourself, “Oh my goodness, I’ve turned into that person,” and then onto the next thing.

Jack Ford:

That sounds good. It sounds like a good bit of light relief at the end of very busy days.

Victoria Ford:

Exactly. Exactly.

Jack Ford:

Awesome. Well, I really appreciate you coming on the podcast, Victoria. It’s been an amazing conversation and could carry on for a lot longer, but I think my computer’s about to blow up, it’s whirring way.

Victoria Ford:

Yeah. Well, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. So again, thank you very much for inviting me.

Jack Ford:

Oh, no problem. Is there anywhere that you want to send our listeners to or point them in a direction for any more information, either to connect with you or to find out more information on what we’ve been talking about?

Victoria Ford:

Well, actually an opportunity to link people into one thing, for comms professionals out there, particularly right now, if you’re not already following or haven’t picked up on Comms Unplugged, I would really advise you to go and have a look. It’s a voluntary organization, I suppose, of comms professionals in the public sector who’ve got together to really support comms professionals with their wellbeing and really focusing on how you unplug from this mad world that we’re in, to look after yourself a little bit. And there’s some great stuff in there. They’re a great community of people, share some really good stuff and we really do all need to look after ourselves right now.

Jack Ford:

Oh, awesome. Well, I’ll make sure I include a link to that in the episode notes. So, that’ll go out to wherever anyone listens to their podcast, there’ll be a link to that in there.

Victoria Ford:

Fab. Thank you.

Jack Ford:

Awesome. Okay. Well, yeah. Thank you. Thanks again. It’s been really great chatting.

Victoria Ford:

Thanks, Jack.

Get Each Episode Delivered To Your Inbox

To get each episode delivered direct to your inbox as soon as they come out, subscribe with your business email address below.

Run Better Online Events

With our team of Event Producers providing first-class support throughout your online events, engaging your audience is just one click away...

Adam Gillin

Author Adam Gillin

More posts by Adam Gillin