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.