Had an interesting discussion the other day with some communication professionals where we were talking about the role of Internal Communications in the age of social media. We talked about how the role has changed over the years -- with or without social media – and I said that I see Internal Communications as having a critical responsibility to hold the compass for an organization. Many more people than ever within an organization can and do take the reins on communication to stakeholders using social media, and this communication cannot be “managed.” Therefore, in partnership with leaders at every level, Internal Comms needs to be the constant reminder of the organization’s True North, reinforcing the purpose, mission and most importantly the values, and recognizing examples of those who live them so employees can emulate those behaviors in the virtual or real world.

Some colleagues scoffed,

“Purpose statements and values aren’t worth the paper they are written on. They are just the output of well-intentioned executives and have little relevance to employees.” One even said, “That’s just soft stuff that Communications should stay away from.”

Frankly, I wonder if anything’s harder or more important than making values meaningful enough to influence behaviors.

So what should we do? Just give it up, discard those documents and erase those examples in the name of “being real”? Or do we approach values in a different way so they are real and relevant? How do we seize the compass and figure out how to make our organizations’ True North mean something in this authentic age?