Building visibility and branding for internal teams


This was a rare request – a team lead approached me to share ideas on building an ‘internal brand and image’ for his team. The team responsible for the critical human resources management, performance and employee practices was in the midst of a churn and this manager had come on board to steady the ship. 

 

On one hand the manager was struggling with the nomenclature of the team – his team was known by its acronym and was synonymous with only one element of the employee life cycle, much against his thinking. That had implications on morale in the team and also on their self-belief.

 

While branding teams internally may not be a viable option for the internal communicator to encourage, it does help to share appropriate channels and opportunities for showcasing the team’s goals, progress and members.

 Stack up

Here are some pointers which I shared with the team – you may find them useful in your context but in a different setting.

 

a)       The team can begin with self-introspection – as to what their purpose is and where they plan to be. An informal audit on ‘perception’ vs ‘expectation’ will set up a benchmark to work on.

b)      Start by sharing their team’s plans and agenda, key milestones and measures as well as outcomes

c)       Being a regular reporting of progress – either monthly or quarterly to update stakeholders

d)      Leverage the internal portal or intranet to share thought leadership articles – those related to industry trends, plans of the team among others.

e)       Be seen as the ‘subject matter expert’ in their domain – conduct sessions for employees over and above their responsibilities, reach out and support teams who need intervention.

f)        Share best practices/case studies from the team’s work – solutions that got others to succeed

g)      Showcase employees and work from the team that showcase their strengths at senior management forums

h)       Publish content from team events, off sites on the team’s page ( if this is viable)

i)         Peer review any process changes so that the word gets around

j)         Include the team’s policy and organization wide change communication as content within the regular company updates

k)       The team’s leader can contribute blog posting and create self-help modules on thought leadership, trends, updates (informal tone, with examples from everyday life)

l)         Encourage consistent messaging to that stakeholders begin viewing them as ‘one’ team and there a common agenda to work towards

 

 

While all this might help to improve flow of communication, it is important for internal teams to get relevant ‘buy-in’ and ‘share-of-mind’ internally among key management for greater visibility.

Addressing messages based on workforce profiling


Last week, I conducted a short session on Social Media and implications for recruiters for a set of hiring professionals in my organization.

The presentation aimed to highlight the explosion of current trends and tools, the need to adapt to change and tips on building personal and employer brands around the social media environment.

Milagres Church, Mangalore

Milagres Church, Mangalore

One element which caught the attention of the audience was about using the ‘right’ messages for the different workforce generations – veterans (born before 1945), baby boomers (1946-1960), Generation X (1961-1972) and Generation Y (1973-1990).  By understanding what appeals to each generation, one can improve the impact of communication to these audiences.

Tailoring messages around history and lineage makes sense to the old timers, industry awards and leadership influence baby boomers, Generation X thinks highly of organizations which have flexible work options, learning opportunities, work life balance and training. Cutting edge technology and corporate social responsibility work means a lot to the Generation Y people.

I believe is it vital for internal communicators to leverage these insights while communicating at the workplace to get better buy-in on change management initiatives and also to improve connection.

Interested to know what you think…

Looking for ‘Recession Proof’ Corporate Communication ideas?


Is the recession shrinking your communication budget? Is the downturn causing you to rethink your communication goals?

Attend this half-day workshop to learn more about ‘recession proofing’ your corporate communication. Leverage contemporary tools and resources to improve connection, engagement and awareness among your employees, customers and other stakeholders.

Read more about the workshop…

Topics of this workshop include:

 

COMMUNICATING CHANGE AND CRISIS

 

• The evolution of corporate communication

• The importance of the message

• The role of HR and management

• Preparing an integrated communication plan

• Communicating change and crisis.

A doll couple adorned in bridal wear atop a vehicle

A doll couple adorned in bridal wear atop a vehicle

 

 

COMMUNICATING USING SOCIAL MEDIA

 

• Trends in Social Media

• Overcoming challenges for introducing social media in the organization.

• Learn more about Wikis, Blogs, YouTube, podcasts and how you can benefit as communicators

• Identifying the evangelists and the followers.

 

MANAGEMENT BUY-IN TO CORPORATE COMMUNICATION IN A DOWNTURN

 

• Showcasing ROI

  Leverage talent and tools

  Portals and intranets

• Newsletters – online vs print

  Events on a shoestring budget

 

Workshop Particulars:

 Date: 18 April 2009 (Saturday)

Time: 9:30 a. m – 2.30 p. m with lunch and one coffee break

Venue: SJCBA Conference Hall, 18 Residency Road, Bangalore-560 025

Seats:  20 participants

Target Group: Less than 7 years of experience. Also those who are or intend pursuing a career in Corporate Communications

Methodology: Presentations, case study and exercises

 

Facilitators:

 Peter Yorke

Peter is founder and independent consultant at Yorke Communications Private Limited (www.yorkecommunications.com ), an organization that builds content as a platform for internal and external communications. Peter was recently Vice President – Marketing and Communications at Oracle Financial Services, a global financial services software provider. He was directly responsible for the marketing and communications function and ran a virtual and global communications team. Peter has more than 20 years of experience in working with corporate organizations and communications agencies and is an itinerant speaker.

 Aniisu K Verghese

 Aniisu has over ten years of experience in the evolving internal communication arena, social media and in corporate communications. He currently works as an Internal Communication Lead for a global interactive and consulting organization, where he oversees communication planning, employee communication and change management initiatives. Prior to his current role Aniisu worked for organizations such as Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, i-flex solutions (now Oracle Financial Services) and Accenture.

He has won several employee communication awards and writes regularly for management and industry publications. Aniisu is passionate about engaging fellow communication practitioners through workshops and presentations.

Visit Aniisu’s blog at  www.intraskope.wordpress.com

 

‘The presenters have conducted a successful workshop on ‘Effectively Leveraging New

Media for Corporate Communication’ on 12 May, 2007 in association with SJCBA. Please visit http://www.sjcba.edu.in/CorporateCommunications.html for details of this workshop.

 

Workshop Fee:

Delegates: INR 2,000/- Students: INR 500/-

Discount:

3 or more participants from the same company will be given a discount of 10 percent.

Registration:

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 Castelino

St Joseph’s College of Business Administration

18 Residency Road

Bangalore 560 025

Phone: 94488 93525

Email: edwin@sjcba.edu.in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you justifying your existence as a communication professional?


The recession can surely make communicators sweat! It also seems to be making communicators revisit their purpose and justify their existence.

A mail from a fellow communicator in India pointed to just that – it read ‘we are gauging the span of the Corporate Communication and roles vis-a-vis number of employees. It’s going to hopefully help justify why me and my team mates are stretched’.

Goodness.

Incidentally, the individual had contacted India’s leading association for software organizations for benchmark numbers and met a dead-end.

Flower

My first thought was – when they hired corporate communicators, what was the organization thinking? Did they know why they wanted them in the first place?

The second point that crossed my mind – if this wasn’t a recession, would the organization really go around checking if the support functions like Corporate Communication was delivering 100%?

 

 The third – aren’t communicators supposed to be working on a formal plan which is ‘blessed’ by the senior leadership – who need to be actively driving it as one of their priorities?

And, finally, if communicators are spending quality time trying to justify their existence, how productive are they in doing what they were hired to do as professionals?

So how did we get here in the first place?

My take is that it begins with where ‘communication’ as a function sits and is valued within the organization. The closer it is to senior leadership and the frequency with which communicators play strategic advisory roles, the greater the chances of the team being taken seriously.

I can also visualize why these communicators feel stretched. They might be doing non-core communication work such as writing ‘personal memos’ for their leaders, conducting events for local connection programs which bloats their bandwidth and playing ‘gate-keeper’ for all communication that flows – upward, downward and lateral. Also, they may be repeating tasks which can either be automated or converted into self-help models to empower their employees – for example, e-mail style guides, templates for presentations, event checklists among others.

By crafting tangible measures and outcomes to the communication objectives, the communication team can have sufficient reasons to justify how their work – a) adds value to the organization b) drives change and therefore is a core need.

I foresee a need to survey their impact every year if not more often – questions such as ‘I am able to understand the organization’s vision and goals’ and ‘I receive clear, simple communication which helps me do my work better’.

I recommend teams facing such questions need to step back and revisit their goals. They need to understand how the function can align to the company’s overall plans and thereby build a comprehensive, measurable plan.

Corporate communicators – internal or external, need to be resourceful too. Therefore it is important to regularly share best practices from the industry among senior management, get internal teams to leverage each other more through interactive forums and spend time sharing knowledge as ‘subject matter experts’ on evolving media like Web 2.0 and social networking.

Do you agree? Share your point of view here.

Slowdown paradox – reduce or keep internal communication momentum going?


Do you communicate more or less or continue ‘business as usual’ during a slowdown?

 

Slowdown impacts communication budgets but research points to continued communication improving commitment even during these scenarios. Contradictory?

 

While most will agree that communication even during a slowdown is critical, very few communicators and leaders end up doing so.

 

 The reasons are manifold. As a support function, any form of internal communication involves effort, time and money. Companies prefer to invest in effort that generate more business rather than focusing on aligning employees to the organization’s goals. Apart from staff reductions, there is pressure on the function to show ROI from communicating during these times. If there isn’t a structured communication plan which the leadership has agreed upon, internal communicators is usually stretched to deliver on pressing issues during this period rather than focusing on messages which articulate the organization’s mission and goals. There is also a fear that communicating during a slowdown might weaken the organization’s position vis-à-vis the competition.

 

If for example, the company has been hiring over the last few years, we find it difficult to say that we have frozen hiring due to the current environment.

 

Also, if we have recently restructured our business, we still want to show we are doing well and under no pressure. Such is the urge to ‘look good’ in the eyes of our employees and other stakeholders that we forget that they have long memories.

 

A recent Watson Wyatt’s report talks of how we can undo all our great work if we ignore employees at this time of crisis.   It also highlights ‘engageable moments’ during these situations which internal communicators and organizations can leverage to continue the momentum.

 

The Business Today issue (March 8, 2009) talks of job losses in India and how companies are communicating. Interestingly, while the cover story recommends being ‘honest’ and ‘direct’ the company letters showcased from Wipro, TCS, TVS and others do not focus on possible reductions in force but talks of ‘cost management’ and ‘tightening the purse’.

 

 I  believe we have a gap in India. While there are layoffs taking place ‘below the radar’ in most organizations in India under the banner of ‘performance management’, employees get the wrong message that the company is not being forthcoming.

 What's up?

 

Employees fear that if they speak out, they are marked for elimination. Creating such a culture is surely detrimental for the future.

 

I would recommend that internal communicators demonstrate leadership by taking proactive steps and support message development and communication.  Dive into the organization’s history and revive stories around what is core to success. By sharing key milestones, success stories, people who live the values and traditions of the organization the positives will help employees look at the brighter side of this slowdown. Increase face to face connections and allow free flow of information. Empower your managers to have direct conversations with your employees. Involve employees in business decisions that help mitigate the slowdown The chances of your employees trusting your organization will be higher when things come around.