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Senior management and dwindling budgets stifle good internal comms

When it comes to good internal communications, senior management has been voted the biggest stumbling block to success, research reveals.

In an online survey by the institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) 45% of respondents cited senior managers as a major block to progress in key areas, followed by budgetary or time constraints (19%).

Exploring aspects of IoIC's annual conference theme for this year, The rise of the fearless communicator, the survey considers the nature of fearless communication, what encourages it and what kills it stone dead. It reveals that the attitude of colleagues and a general lack of confidence are also significant inhibitors, both mentioned by 11% of respondents.

Almost half (45%) also said the scariest challenge they faced involved getting the support of leaders and other staff, followed by the effective use of social media and new technology (19%).

The key factor with the potential to reduce fear and initiate positive action was understanding leaders (44%), followed by a supportive network (16%) and a mentor (13%). The attributes that were most associated with fearless communication were excellent interpersonal skills in terms of persuasion, influencing, listening, ability to inspire and engage (16%); followed by honesty and consistency (14%), tenacity and persistence (12%), general confidence (10%) and clarity of management and focus (7%).

But respondents felt behaviours most closely associated with fearfulness were toeing the line in relation to senior managers (16%) as well as generally not standing up for what they believe in and watering everything down to avoid upsetting people (7%).

Dominic Walters, IoIC's chairman, said: "This survey clearly illustrates the challenges faced by internal communicators in getting through to business leaders, but also how important it is for them to have the abilities required to break down barriers - with managerial and interpersonal performance, along with business know-how, being just as important as technical skills.

"The trends that we see in communicators' workplace experiences today have very much influenced IoIC's own focus on raising general awareness of the importance of joined-up internal communication to lasting business success and equipping professionals with the knowledge and skills to meet evolving challenges."