Aligning Employees Through Involvement, Empowerment and Engagement

Recently Reputation Today carried perspectives on internal communication and I am sharing the complete set of responses to the interview. Keen to hear your views.

i)  Employee support can make or break turning a vision into a reality. How difficult is it aligning employees with the corporate vision?

Gaining the commitment of employees is essential for the success of any organizational initiative. Not just the company vision, any programme – small or large will need the organization to explain the rationale and the ‘what’s in it for me’ to employees. Organizations who involve employees at the start of any initiative and are open and transparent about taking on board the ‘voice’ of employees will find it a lot easier. Employees also ‘watch’ their leaders’ actions and when they see them ‘walk the talk’ is when they believe the vision is credible and there is support to see it through. The role of internal communication is therefore crucial to get employees on board with the vision. How the leaders articulate the vision, how closely embedded it is part of the company’s programming, the role employees can play to make the vision come to life and the consistent approach to talking about the vision all matter to the success of the initiative.

ii)    How do employees get their sources of information on corporate strategy, benefits news etc? And, how important is the ‘grapevine’?

Employees should ideally get their corporate information from their managers, organizational channels of communication and their leadership. The role each group plays in assimilating the information and sharing it with employees as important as the content itself. This means, when leaders take the time to meet employees face to face the richness of that interactions makes the information credible and trustworthy. When managers discuss the company updates with their colleagues in team meetings they must encourage dialogue and conversations and help improve understanding. When organizational channels serve this information it must be consistent and shared in a format that is accessible, direct, and clear. Grapevine exists in all organizations and in different forms and shapes but it becomes less reliable and available when the company information is timely, relevant and consistent. It becomes ‘important’ when employees don’t get what they need or lose faith in the culture, leadership or communication, especially in times of crisis or when business isn’t faring well. In such cases, having more face to face interactions and open conversations can overcome the gaps in information availability.


iii)  How are corporate values being conveyed to employees, with the objective of making them communication ambassadors?

Every employee is expected to be an ambassador of the brand – as they go about their life at work or outside. The opportunities to engage each employee through the life cycle are immense – at orientation, during work scenarios, as they progress through their development journey and when they become an alumni of the organization. Helping employees to appreciate ‘how’ and ‘why’ they need to participate is important in gaining their commitment. By inviting their ideas and suggestions, involving them on communication assignments, recognizing their contributions, empowering them to learn and teach each other we can make every employee a communication ambassador. AtTesco Bengaluru, our communication philosophy considers these aspects. We run periodic surveys and focus groups on our communication quality and impact, have councils (design, editorial, audio-visual, social media) that involve colleagues to co-create content, run campaigns which put the colleague at the heart of our communication (Yammer chats, Facebox – Tesco Bengaluru’s anchors, Reflections, our newsletter is colleague-curated), CSR (where colleagues shape the company’s agenda) and engagement (Talent Showcase – where colleagues entertain each other in an internal platform).

iv) Communicating with millennials are ushering in change today. They are a driving force in the workplace. They’ve pushed boundaries in the workplace, including championing for flexible schedules, better benefits, improved parental leave and fostering the idea that work should feel meaningful. What is the reality in your work environment?

Our workplace also has a sizable number of millennials and we actively understand their needs to improve engagement and involve them in the company’s priorities. Engagement is a two-way street and while the organization can raise awareness about how their work adds value to our goals there is an equal expectation that the millennials will also step up and take ownership for making the organization successful. As mentioned in the previous question we provide numerous opportunities for every colleague to join the conversations, influence how we make an impact internally and externally and we encourage everyone to participate.

v) How do you measure employment engagement, like do you have Employee Satisfaction Index?

We conduct periodic surveys to gauge not just our colleagues’ engagement but also a host of other aspects such as alignment and understanding of our core purpose/values, the benefits, policies, the workplace environment, manager effectiveness etc. The surveys are run by independent third party research agencies and therefore the responses are confidential. This apart we have regular face to face interactions with all colleagues across the business to share updates and take questions. We receive feedback that guides our thinking and approach to colleague engagement.

Participate in the 2016 Intraskope Internal Communications Survey. Receive a FREE High Level Summary Report!

Take Intraskope’s 2016 Internal Communications Survey now and provide audit inputs that will improve the value and impact of your organization’s internal communication practices. All respondents who take the survey will receive a FREE copy of the high level summary.

How do leaders, managers and the culture of the organization fare with internal communications? Here is your chance to participate and audit key aspects of your organization helping improve the understanding of this important function.

This is the 6th edition of the survey. Look up the earlier survey results on

Get your organization’s internal communication audited

If you an internal communication professional and are looking for an audit report about your organization’s internal communication ‘fitness’ invite your employees to complete this quick survey. You will receive a copy of your organization’s report via e-mail. All you have to do is request your participating employees to mention the company name while completing the survey.

Responses to this survey are anonymous and participants’ information will not be shared with anyone. The survey ends on October 31, 2016.

For any questions on the survey please write to

6 Insights That Can Change How You View Your Career

Every organization reviews their talent’s capabilities, performance and progress periodically. Often, what goes on during these discussions can throw light on what guides decision making about employee performance outcomes and what one must be aware of while delivering the best in your role.

I have had the opportunity on numerous occasions to be part of conversations that invites feedback about employees, evaluates how connected they are with the business, what differentiates them from others and what can be done to improve their impact. A few themes emerge consistently each time and may be helpful for us to ponder over.

1.    Positivity matters: It is no surprise that people want to be around those who are positive. However, what struck me most is that the positivity which shines through from people sometimes gets reviewers to underplay if the individual hasn’t done such a good job. Keep yourself really busy and stay away from office politics. What matters is how optimistic one can be at the workplace, and genuinely.

2.    Perception counts: Every interaction gives colleagues an opportunity to understand each other. How people perceive you can have an impact on how your review is discussed. It isn’t about being unauthentic and merely ‘projecting’ an image. It is about being aware that how you are perceived in terms of your ability and knowing that your behavior does influence review outcomes.


3.    Engagement rules: The more you go beyond your realm of control and scope of work the more chances of your engagement being acknowledged and appreciated. It doesn’t mean you step on other peoples’ toes to accomplish a lot. This is more about your ability to behave in a ‘boundaryless’ manner and add value to others even when you have a lot to get done.

4.    Feedback defines: If you are not seeking feedback about your work often or reaching out to stakeholders and peers as you progress with your assignments there is little that reviewers will have to say about you. Your ability to welcome feedback, do something with it and circle back on progress you have made is crucial for your success.

5.    Consistency helps: Everyone loves dependable people and if you are the force holding the team together then it does wonders for the confidence peers and others have in you. So being consistent pays in the long run as you are seen as a ‘go-to’ person to deliver results time after time. To do that you need to have a plan, now and for the future.

6.    Thinking pays: Just getting a job done isn’t enough. As the world moves to machine learning and automation the need for creativity and thought leadership will expand. That means you will be asked to do a lot more thinking about your work and create approaches that can be sustainable for the business. How you think through a plan and bring it to life will be an expectation and a key differentiation for reviewers. Bringing fresh perspectives, being curious and leading with your thoughts will be the ‘new’ normal.

A word of caution for reviewers. Many bias could creep in while such evaluations are conducted. Be mindful of the ‘recency/primacy’ and ‘halo’ effects as well as ‘group think’ when you provide your inputs. Reviews can make and break careers and lives.

It is a big responsibility on the shoulders of those who are involved in reviewing potential and performance for many who may not even know they are being discussed in conversations.

What are your views? What have you experienced?

This post is on my Linkedin page at:

Your Decisions Define Your Career and Life

As I listened to leaders share their career journeys at a recent manager gathering it occurred to me that no two careers are ever the same. I am writing to share my insights from the interaction – which I feel will benefit anyone who is considering making the most of his or her career and life.

Each had a unique story; quite obviously so. Since the time, investment, education, location and environment among other factors differed with each individual. More so, their own decisions shaped how they converged at the same organization and in different places and levels!

One had travelled overseas to gain international experience and build ‘networks’, one had taken the route of understanding the business specifics of managing profit and loss accounts for organizations while another stayed on in one organization and grew from within.



The common themes that emerged from their talks were:

a)     All had their respective plans in their minds

b)     They had the passion to go after them

c)      They took risks – at least that is what they perceived ‘doing things differently’ and ‘moving away from the comfort zone’ meant.

d)     Made key decisions that were often in contrary to popular views at that time

e)     Made lateral movements as a route for progress

f)      Enlisted the support of mentors, friends and families

g)     Communicated their direction regularly

h)     Were resilient in pursuit of their goals

i)       Acknowledged their failures

j)       Put their learning to good use

k)     Were grateful for opportunities they received

To summarize, opportunities are taken and not given, one needs to focus on personal development and growth, take peers along and make a lasting impact on the organization

Overall, the key take-away for me was that the decisions you make define who you are and where you go. There are choices in life and while you gain some, you lose some. Knowing the difference makes you better than others. Finally, you only compete with yourself.

This post is listed on my Linkedin page at:

Why Does My Stakeholder Escalate Issues?

Giles is upset about what he is hearing. The stakeholder whom he works with has again escalated an issue to his manager. He finds it odd that despite all the hard work he does for the stakeholder ‘silly’ stuff gets forwarded on to his leader. He calls his friend, Sharon to share his situation and seek her views. What follows is a conversation between them. Think about the situation and contribute your perspectives.

Giles: “Thanks Sharon for taking the time. I haven’t been sleeping well these days thinking of the issues that keep getting escalated.”

Sharon: “That’s ok. I am happy to be a sounding board”.

Giles: “You know I work hard and give it all I have. My stakeholder in the engineering team has worked with me for a few months now and we often meet regularly. I have attended most of the meetings she calls for. I also try and give updates on time. Sometimes, I miss it due to other pressing work.”

Sharon: “That’s interesting. Have you let her know when you were unable to share an update and the reasons?”


Giles: “You know how it is. There are multiple campaigns to manage, many people stop by my desk and I need to respond. There are others who ping me on the instant messenger service. Then, there is my manager who expects me to review other stuff. All this means that sometimes I am unable to give an update.”

Sharon: “So, have you found a way out to manage your time better and to engage your stakeholder differently?”

Giles: “Well, I have a list which I look at. Although, I don’t know if that is what I need to be working on for the day. We have a team meeting where we catch-up. I can’t get through all the e-mail that pours in. Some ask for information, some are just fyi and some are actions which need to be taken. Now I go ‘offline’ on instant messenger to avoid those numerous requests that people ask online. I have started to take a ‘break’ from the non-stop work by sitting in the cafeteria for a while.”

Sharon: “What does your stakeholder think about your ability to deliver work?”

Giles: “It seems patchy. Sometimes they think I do well, often times they are upset that I don’t keep them posted.”

Sharon: “What stops you from letting them know?”

Giles: “I am trying to be more organized but there is always that gap. Why do they need to get so upset about not getting an update? Why can’t they see how much I have already done for them?“

Sharon: “What does your manager think about all this?”

Giles: “She is obviously upset that the stakeholder doesn’t get their update on time and expects more of me.”

Sharon: “Not surprising. I would too if I was managing anyone. No one likes surprises you see! Would you?”

Giles: “What surprises? I think it is all going fine. I don’t think there is an issue.”

Sharon: “You don’t? Then, why would there ever be an escalation? What do you think escalations mean and do?”

Giles: “I guess they only mean that the stakeholder is acting funny and being ‘mean’!”

Sharon: “Giles! You really need to think about this. This can lead to other stuff. Do you want to chat again after a few weeks and check if there have been any improvements?”

Giles: “Hmm. I probably need to have a think.”

How can you help Giles see the implications of his actions or rather inactions?

How Do I Measure My Communication Role Objectives?

Your objectives are a reflection of your commitment to the role and how much you value personal development. There are ‘official’ objectives you want to have and then there are real objectives that will make you a better person and professional. The choice is about the goals you set and the pursuit of excellence that you wish to follow.

You can set very aspiring goals but if they are unrealistic, you will fall short. You can set weak goals but those may not challenge you enough.

Setting measures for your objectives is probably more difficult than just writing them up. Each role will have a different set of measures basis the expectations and goals the organisation has set for the function or team. What must you consider while setting measures for your communication role objectives?


Here are a few pointers that will help you think through what matters.

Milestones vs hard targets: Often the work you do may not have a direct relation to the organization’s performance. In that case look for milestones that demonstrate tangible progress towards specific determinants of performance and your goals. It can be for example, related to productivity, engagement, motivation or communication satisfaction. These milestones must be closely related to the everyday tasks on hand and the long term view expressed by the objective.

Quality vs quantity: It isn’t about how many objectives and the number of tasks you completed while achieving your goals. It is important to measure the quality of the outcomes considering communication as a function is about relationships, content, channels, climate and other variables.  Consider what behavior you want to focus on.

Dependency vs individual contribution: In a communication role there is bound to be dependencies on not just your team members but also stakeholders to get work completed seamlessly. Knowing which elements involve others and which can be done independently will determine how you craft measures for your objectives.

Control vs influence: When you own a specific project you have greater control over the outcomes. It can get difficult to measure when you need to influence the direction of initiatives that are owned by a stakeholder or a colleague in your team. In such scenarios you need to evaluate the value of your effort in the engagement. Think about the key levers you want to tap during such initiatives.

Short term vs long term: Your measures need to weigh if they are in the near term or something planned for later in the year. For the long term goals break them down into smaller, achievable elements.

There are three parts to delivering on your objectives. Setting objectives is one aspect of the journey. Making them work is more crucial and finally, communicating progress and closing the loop is key.

We often do the first two well but forget to track the journey and make note of our progress leading to mismatched expectations when a performance review conversation takes place.

Most importantly, having regular conversations about your progress with your leader and peers can see you achieve more than you expect.

What are your views?

Bridging the gap between communication theory and practice

Stephen Waddington, Partner and Chief Engagement Officer – Ketchum has been leading an interesting project to improve collaboration between academia and practice in public relations.

I had an opportunity to contribute to a series of letters that were presented at the 23rd International Public Relations Symposium (BledCom 2016).

You can read the complete post here: