How this nonprofit’s CEO is rethinking internal communications

Hear what Dorri McWhorter from YWCA Chicago has to say about engaging employees in today’s business world.

YWCA Chicago

When Dorri McWhorter took over as CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago in 2013, the 140-year-old nonprofit organization had seen better days. Money was tight, morale was low, and McWhorter quickly realized she needed to make some changes.

By adopting the internal strategies used by today’s biggest tech startups, she was able to reinvent the culture of the nonprofit and encourage a spirit of innovation. We sat down with McWhorter to get her thoughts on what strong internal communications looks like in 2019 and beyond.

What role does internal communications play in the modern workplace? What are the new demands that need to be met?

McWhorter: We talk to consumers very differently than we talk to employees—and we need to start treating them similarly. Just like consumers, they have choices and they expect to be marketed to. Internal communications need to adopt that mindset in order to shape positive employee experiences.

What are the biggest obstacles to strong internal communications?

McWhorter: We set the bar too low, honestly. When we communicate, we look to inform, rather than inspire and excite. We must be able to do both.

How can internal communicators become partners to senior leaders such as yourself?

McWhorter: Deeply understanding the leader’s strategy and vision is crucial, as is being a resource to help them accomplish them. However, you also have to help them see more perspectives and possibilities that they haven’t considered.

What are the benefits to running your department or organization like a startup?

McWhorter: You’re open to new possibilities and willing to take risks. You need to be willing to ask different questions, so you can get different answers. Ultimately, adopting this point of view allows you to break the status quo and chart a course to the future.

Want to hear more? Dorri McWhorter will deliver the opening keynote at Ragan’s Role of Internal Communications in Building an Innovative Work Culture Conference on March 20–22 in Chicago.

Join her and experts from Target, Fitbit, Crayola and more to learn how to create a culture of fearless employee innovation in your workplace.

Register here.

COMMENT

2 Responses to “How this nonprofit’s CEO is rethinking internal communications”

    Frank says:

    I really love the call to action and challenge to internal communicators be part of creating, influencing and shaping a modern work workplace.

    Juliette Adams says:

    Does being a savvy internal communicator require conscientious self-building? How can you give to others when you have not developed those inner powerful traits? Is that the reason for the severe lack of internal communications? Also is that the reason many silently put up with the lack while being extremely miserable and externalize it to others? If so, then the stories must be continuously told to honor those who have the fortitude to be trailblazers in charting future new empowering courses. Simply put to “inspire and excite.”

    “Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes…We must replace the old, negative thoughts about our femininity with positive thoughts and positive action affirming it, and more. But we must also remember that we will be breaking with tradition, and so we must prepare ourselves educationally, economically, and psychologically in order that we will be able to accept and bear with the sanctions that society will immediately impose upon us.” – Shirley Chisholm

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