If you’re aiming to improve internal comms in your organisation, you might spare a thought for the extraordinary actions of heroic Briton, the late Sir Nicholas Winton.
Until his death in 2015 at the age of 106, this unassuming gentleman could easily be mistaken for just another ordinary senior citizen. But over 80 years ago Mr Winton did something far from ordinary.
He saved hundreds of young people from almost certain death.
Escaping from Hitler
He was the person who arranged for 669 Jewish children to escape from Czechoslovakia before it was invaded by Hitler's forces. His efforts required not just bravery, but hard work and considerable organisational skills, as well.
Today, many hundreds of people - the original children he saved and their descendants - owe their lives to this man's heroic actions.
But that's not the only amazing thing about Sir Nicholas. So great was his humility that when he married, he didn't even tell his wife, Grete, about his exploits. She only learned of them by chance decades later, while looking through a scrapbook in their loft.
It's an incredible story. Here were a couple of people living under the same roof for many years and one of them failed to share an important piece of information with the other. How could such a thing happen?
In this case we can put it down to genuine modesty on the part of Sir Nicholas, which is completely commendable.
But how do we explain a failure to share information when it occurs elsewhere? For example, in a business or government department.
Effective internal comms
Around the planet there are organisations of all kinds performing badly because they have developed a culture of secrecy and are holding on to vital information rather than passing it on to their employees.
Over the years we have seen many examples of this. Organisations in which employees at all levels are surprisingly ignorant about what they are meant to be doing or why they should be doing it.
A few years ago, employers may have had an excuse for this. After all, setting up effective internal communications channels can be challenging.
But now things have changed.
Useful ideas and best practices
With the arrival of the intranet, it has become much easier to keep people updated about what's going on, both in and around the workplace. It's also become easier for people at all levels of an organisation to communicate with each other.
All it takes is a few keystrokes and clicks, and colleagues around the country – even around the world - can exchange useful ideas, share best practices and swap business intelligence.
Unusual though his reticence might seem, Nicholas Winton had an understandable reason for not passing on his secret to Grete. As a humble man, he was reluctant to draw attention to himself or make a big deal out of his actions.
Operating in the dark
But what reason do companies and organisations have for withholding key information from their workers? How can employees perform their duties effectively, if they are operating in the dark?
Simple questions, but not always easy to answer.
And it’s not just bosses who need to take note. Anyone who works in a team - no matter how junior or senior they might be - has a duty to play their part in the free exchange of information with colleagues. They can hardly criticise senior management, if they themselves are failing to communicate effectively.
So any time the subject of how to improve internal communications crops up, we should spare a thought for Sir Nicholas. As a modest hero, he had a valid excuse for not passing on information.
The question is what excuse do we have?
Here at Strawberry Training we can play our part in helping you improve your internal comms by showing you how to make even better use of your intranet.
For more about how we can help, take a look at our Writing For An Intranet course.
For more information on our services or to arrange a course booking, please call us on: 020 8773 4718.
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