Archives for category: Employee Communications

In a previous post, I posited that two-way communications define the new normal. But it bears repeating: today, consumers and stakeholders expect and often demand that companies and organizations interact by talking with, not talking at each other.

So who’s going to do all this interacting? 

Rule #2: If you want your employees to be company or brand ambassadors, you must give them plenty of content to work with… and permission to use it.

There’s a growing body of research evidence indicating that employees – not executives nor designated “official” spokesmen nor celebrity endorsers – make the most credible and influential advocates for any organization.

Word-of-mouth interchanges taking place everywhere online create a natural arena for ordinary employees to participate in discussions about the organizations they work for. And why shouldn’t they? Who knows better how their products are madeDPPR Employee Comms 3? Why they’re made the way they are? Why they’re better? If the organization is doing important work that benefits society? If the company really is environmentally responsible? And by the way, what it’s really like to work there? Are the company’s future prospects bright?

Against this backdrop, any enterprise still trying to enforce sweeping policies prohibiting employees’ talking with the outside world is hopelessly out of sync with reality. Not only are such gag orders destined to fail, they can backfire should the organization be suspected of manipulating or worse, covering up the truth.

It is a far better situation to have fully informed employees who appreciate the trust placed in them empowered to talk proudly about their organization every chance they get. Thoughtful employees easily recognize that it’s in their own best interest to advance and protect their company’s reputation, along with winning fans and new customers by cross-selling products or services.

All they need are the facts, along with guidance on how to share them if they choose to.

Today, the best operating model for employee communications is that of a true news source that supplies a constant stream of information about the trends, developments, decisions, activities and impacts occurring in every corner of the enterprise.

The more diverse, multi-dimensional and far-flung the company, the more expansive this internal news coverage must be. Employees are just as unschooled in areas or functions outside their own as anyone.

Universal e-mail news digests or internal network home pages appearing at every logon make the job easy.

Nobody wants to work for an organization with a poor reputation. Right-minded employees want to be sincerely proud of their jobs, basking in company success and their role in it. It’s wholly counterproductive to deny any employee knowledge of what their organization is doing, along with the when, where, how and why.

Equally important, they should be given permission to share this news, with guidance on how, when and where to use this information as part of every news item.

Organizations following this strategy greatly multiply their influence by equipping and deploying a veritable army of committed, passionate ambassadors.

Greg Loh is the managing partner of public relations and public affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s leading independent marketing communications agencies. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of EMA.

In my previous post, I promised to provide some guidelines to rethink the way internal communications work into today’s world.

The “Mushroom Strategy” – “Treat employees like mushrooms… Keep ‘em in the dark and feed ‘em guano.” no longer applies in today’s interactive environment. Instead, I believe there are enormous business benefits and opportunities just waiting to be unlocked by doing things differently.

Rule #1: Today, all employee communications are public statements.

Don’t kid yourself. A single mouse click on the “Forward” button is all it takes for one employee to spread any internal message to the outside world.

This is not a new phenomenon. Nearly ten years ago, while assisting a company manage sensitive issues surrounding the closing of a manufacturing plant, we cautioned the CEO about sharing his plans via e-mail with his frontline management team. “I trust them completely,” he said.DPPR Employee Comms 2

The announcement was scheduled for the next afternoon. Nevertheless, at 6:00 a.m., the company’s hometown paper hit the newsstands containing the full story, making an embarrassed management look foolish as it scrambled to apologize and explain to local and state government officials why they hadn’t called them first… and their own stunned workforce who learned they lost their jobs from the news instead of their own management.

The only difference between ten years ago and today is that the leaked email would instantly be all over Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn and in blogs, search results and news alerts everywhere.

When employees are told something different from what you’re saying to the outside world, a dismayed, demotivated (and possibly angry) workforce resentful of the contradiction may result. Similarly, if (more likely when) the news media and public learn of the apparent disconnect, it could very well trigger a full-blown crisis if it appears to be deliberate obfuscation.

If you’re not telling them clearly misunderstandings can cause similar trouble. That’s a big risk, because too many organizations today still regard internal communications as a low-priority activity. If “That’s HR’s job!” summarizes how your company manages internal communications, it’s time for a re-think.

And if you’re not telling your own people first, you’re squandering whatever trust your workforce (your most important productive asset) places in their leadership and its credibility. This loss affects the very core of their motivation, loyalty and productivity.

How’s that Mushroom Strategy working for you now?

Greg Loh is the managing partner of public relations and public affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s leading independent marketing communications agencies. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of EMA.

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