To begin, internal communication practitioners can make quick hits by solving employees’ basic issues of information overload and personalization. But for larger success, internal buy-in from senior leadership on the benefits (which are many – accountability, transparency, trust, engagement) and measurements of the medium is critical. Practitioners keen to arrive at a concrete new media plan for internal communications can show results with easy to manage tools and applications. Below are some starter-kit recommendations.
- Many heads better than one: Can you wiki your internal documentation? With this new collaboration tool, you will witness a new found passion for sharing and integration among your employees.
- Leveraging internal expertise: Each employee has unique talents and expertise and you can help harness it for the organization. By connecting experts and channeling a discussion, the time for information access is reduced dramatically. They say we are separated from each other by six degrees of separation. Make those six degrees closer than your employees can think.
- Constant beta-testing with your best critics: How often have you wished you got critical feedback to improve your products and services and did not know whom to turn to? Test it on your employees and you will be amazed at the power of insight which comes from them. Today, organizations believe in the power of crowds to fine-tune mission critical applications meant for mass markets. Good examples are Google and Yahoo.
- The power of citizen journalism: With new media, the press is no longer the one who creates or brings news first. It can be your employee who blogs, is on social networking sites and listens to podcasts and has an opinion. Are you aware of where your employees are? Research has shown that a large chunk of their time in office as well is spent on networking sites and gathering content. There is a boom in social networking sites not just abroad but also in India. With international social networking sites such as Facebook, Orkut, MySpace becoming a part of the daily routine for the 38.5 million Internet users in India, the Indian social networking sites have a tough ask. Reliance ADA group’s Bigadda.com, Yaari.com, portal Ibobo.com, Fropper.com and many others are ready for battle. The Internet user base is estimated to grow to 100 million by 2007-08, according to Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). It is estimated that 10 per cent of the present Internet audience is active on social networking portals, which is close to 4 million users today. Therefore, can you make your employees advocates of your brand by understanding their needs?
- Monitor the web: Search Technorati and other leading Internet think-tanks for subjects and mentions of your organization. Identify the appropriate channels and share the internal strategy with stakeholders
- Build policies: Institute policies for electronic media usage before the media overruns your organization. It can be a good idea to wiki the policies – IBM arrived at their policies with the help of employees.
- Start a conversation: Replace e-mail with an internal blog and get the conversation started. Engage communities of practice on the intranet and offline. Wiki your intranet pages as test case. Make employees accountable for content Have measurement mechanisms like page rating and popular expert pages.
I was recently asked to review a poster campaign on data and risk protection which showed a snake as a visual! The message was ‘beware of consequences if you leak out confidential data!’. While showing the slithery creature had its own merits, using fear without balance and a solution did not have the desired effect. The poster only got poor reviews. According to Dr. T J Larkin and Sandar Larkin (www.larkin.biz), using fear appeal works if there is a proposed option for the employee to follow after you provide the physiological arousal. Cigarette, AIDS prevention advertisements all follow this route.
Dr. T J Larkin and Sandar Larkin ( www.larkin.biz) indicated that a hypodermic like needle injection of messages were not enough to change employees. Rather a two pronged method of injection plus face-to-face communication helped bring about change. Supervisors needed to be the change agents.
Intranet re-designs are an exciting but challenging assignment. I can vouch for it having been involved in a re-design exercise at i-flex solutions in 2002.The key learning from the i-flex exercise was to make the intranet a relevant content channel for employees and branding the forum. Gerry McGovern also throws light on how intranets today still stand true to that premise. Processes, ways to get work done faster, connecting with experts and leveraging resources is the right way to go.An interesting study from Cisco and the Online Publishing Association (OPA), content is still king.
I discovered this while in the midst of a campaign…nothing teaches you better than practice…
This unique campaign harped on the employees’ role in protecting the organization’s reputation…and in the key messages we drove home this point by highlighting one key word usage…( unable to disclose it since it was an internal message)….but the moot point is……after informal meetings with employees I was astounded to note they were relating that particular word with a well-known medical chain in the country….and understood that the organization had decided to set-up an outlet within the premises!
While the campaign was supported through many different modes of communication, what struck me was how audiences were absorbing what they could relate to.
Have you wondered why most internal focus group discussions get skewed to a certain way of thinking? Why you are unable to make headway when you are searching for a certain kind of information?
From my experience, it seems to be the following factors….
1. Fear ( depending on how the organization culture is..)….therefore you always tend to hear politically correct responses…
How can you avoid it? Take them into confidence and help them settle down…maybe break up the group into smaller teams…also it works best with employees who know each other..
2. Unsure of how the information will be used: Often we fail to brief our focus group invitees on the background. There is no follow-ups to keep them informed about the results and how their contribution helped the campaign or the messaging. A simple thank you message also works wonders.
3. Asking the wrong questions: By focusing on how the discussion helps us, we tend to overlook their participation. By being users, they are the center of the program and we need to give due recognition for the same. Ask questions related to usability, experience rather than what worked and what did not….open-ended questions draw better results…
The next workshop on Employee Branding will provide insights on new trends and how you can leverage your organization’s most important asset…..
Keep on this topic? Let me know your thoughts…..
Workshop Particulars: Date: TBD Time: 9:00 a. m – 2.00 p. m with lunch and one coffee break
Venue: SJCBA Conference Hall, 18 Residency Road, Bangalore-560 025Seats: 30 participants Target Group: 2-7 years of experience. Also those who are pursuing a career in Corporate CommunicationsMethodology: Presentations, hand-outs, case study and exercisesFor details: http://www.sjcba.edu.in/CorporateCommunications.htmlRegistration:
Kindly send Nomination letter along with D.D./ Cheque in favor of St Joseph’s College of Business Administration, Bangalore, to the address mentioned below. Prof. Edwin CastelinoDean AcademicsSt Joseph’s College of Business Administration18 Residency RoadBangalore 560 025 Phone: 998 6464 102Email: firstname.lastname@example.org