Innis Scott, Head of Engagement at The Weir Group PLC, shares key insights into the importance of having a growth mindset and the need for a stronger drive towards diversity.
Why did you choose to pursue a role in communications? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance?
I’ve been working in communications now for 20 years, which sounds terrifying! I studied Film & Media studies at University and originally had thought about a career in journalism. As a student, I worked part-time at Scottish Enterprise which gave me a chance to try work in lots of departments including Marketing, IT and even Finance. I then spent a year working in an advertising agency in New York when I graduated but was tempted home to Scotland when an opportunity came up at Scottish Enterprise for a permanent role in their corporate communications department. Since then I’ve more or less always worked in a communications role but did spend a few years as a Management Consultant with PwC and also gained my MBA. Now my role is Head of Engagement at The Weir Group, responsible for global employee communications, employee voice, employer brand and inclusion & diversity. It’s busy but hugely rewarding!
What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important in the communications sphere? Why these skills/attributes in particular?
I think having a growth mindset, the ability to listen and take feedback and to demonstrate an appreciation of multiple perspectives is critical. The way that people consume information continues to change rapidly and so as communicators we need to be open to trying new things, to be constantly learning and above all, seek and listen to feedback. What worked well and why? What didn’t and how we can do it differently next time? Appreciating that a one-size-fits-all approach rarely is enough is also key – audiences can be diverse in so many different ways, whether it’s how they learn, where they are from etc and so having an awareness of diversity in all its forms is important for all communicators.
What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out?
I guess this relates to my point above. At Weir, we have around 11,500 employees in around 60 countries. We have a richness of diversity in our employee population that we want to recognise and celebrate – not just geographically but across all categories of diversity. We also have a workforce where around a third of employees don’t have regular access to digital communications and/ or have varied technical ability and confidence using technology. That’s why we are working hard to develop our digital capability to ensure everyone in Weir, no matter where they work or what they do, can benefit from the opportunities technology can provide.
One challenge I can think of was when we launched Weir ShareBuilder, our all employee free share plan. We recognised that share ownership would be a new concept for many of our employees so we developed an engaging global communications campaign which we translated into 21 different languages. We created communication toolkits containing both online and offline resources and then worked with a network of over 100 local comms champions to help ensure employees understood and engaged with Weir ShareBuilder, and most importantly, had some fun as they did so.
What one thing would make your working life easier?
That’s a difficult question but I think the answer lies within myself. I know if I moved more during the day and took regular breaks, I would benefit from greater mental clarity. I find it hard to stop and take a break during the day but I’m working on it.
How is the role of communications perceived in your organisation?
I would hope that is it perceived as critical for us to enable the delivery of our strategic framework, We are Weir as we help employees understand the organisation’s purpose and strategy and connect with them on a personal level. My team and I are lucky in that we have regular and open access to the organisation’s most senior leaders who support what we do, and how we do it. Weir really is a welcoming, inclusive place, where each individual’s contribution is recognised and all employees are encouraged to innovate, collaborate and be themselves and so it’s a great place to work in communications.
What do you think the secret of success is when working in communications?
A desire to always listen, learn and take feedback. Also an ability to think innovatively with a good measure of resilience and patience thrown in too.
At React & Share, we’re obsessed with helping our clients measure and report their efforts - what measurements do you think comms teams should be presenting to internal stakeholders?
We’re always looking to learn how we can continue to improve how we measure the impact of our work. We’re keen to explore how communication activity impacts on overall employee engagement and also some of the drivers of engagement within that such as how aligned our employees are with our values, their understanding of and connection to our purpose etc. Within specific campaigns we tend to focus on business outcomes rather than getting overly caught up in views, clicks etc. Those are helpful to refine the specifics of a comms plan but a focus on wider business outcomes aligned to the project is more important.
Looking into your crystal ball, what do you think will be the next big thing in communications?
Hopefully, a greater awareness of the diversity of audiences and a much better understanding of what that means for how people prefer to be communicated with and what their requirements may be.