Lessons from Launching and Reviewing an Internal Leadership Blog

After over a year, the leadership blog (internal corporate blog) aimed at employees is gaining momentum at my organization. I wanted to share insights on how we began, progress we made and personal learning. In case you are planning to champion a blog in your organization (training, business, engagement, CSR among others), I hope these insights give you information you can use.

The blog (hosted on the company intranet) was initially created as a channel for the CEO to post messages and interact with employees. The company went through organizational changes and to suit the inclusive style of the new leader the blog was expanded to allow a pool of writers to contribute. The leadership team took turns to pen their thoughts on how they perceived the company through their own eyes.


The ‘leader’ blog was an attempt to capitalize on ‘personality’ within organization, open a new channel of communication and provide an opportunity to “be real” and allow interactions. We expected to measure the impact of this exercise through direct comments from readers, fruitful conversations, ‘good will’ and increased engagement.

The posts range from the leaders’ business interactions to the team’s charter, from a personal account of the Mumbai 26/11 attacks to the company’s employee volunteering initiatives. The leadership was provided access to manage the blog in a DIY (do it yourself) model with  e-mail communication templates  to use after the posts went live.

The blog gets promoted in a roll-up newsletter, in Town Hall sessions and team meetings. The blog was measured by the readership, the feedback posted and the quality of the conversations. When I created a business case for blogging internally, I leveraged this interesting blogging success formula from Inside the Cubicle: “Personal voice + Accessibility + Relevant and timely information = Employee Engagement.”

In my role as the internal communications consultant I sow ideas on blog topics and relevant themes. Also my responsibility is to review the blog draft for consistency, language, redundancy, accuracy, company verbiage and opportunity to recognize employees. That apart, I look for avenues to build a conversation, address people concerns, manage the tone of voice, add context to the current environment, link to other company updates and help improve the human connection. I believe that the personal ‘touch’ occurs only when it is penned by the leader and not ‘ghost’ written.

Overcoming resistance to blogging: Often leaders shy away from blogging because they think it may ‘give away’ their true self. It was a struggle initially to get leaders to understand the benefits of blogging not just to be seen as friendly and approachable but also to be known as personalities or mentors people could look up to. Often I hear the comment that employees know me already, why do I need to blog?

Verbiage and small things that matter: In a post the leader drafted a message on a recent ‘offsite’ where the team ‘had fun’. I had to step back and understand the context. Finally we edited it to make it read more appropriate ‘also had fun’. Though I would have preferred to use the phrase ‘team huddle’ instead of ‘offsite’, we let it be since we wanted to be direct and honest in our communication. During a recession, having an offsite when all funds are scrutinized can be perceived differently by your employees.

Your readers are discerning: One leader had begun his post mentioning ‘I am a facilitator of our induction program’ while he was in fact ‘one of the facilitators’. To readers, the leader would have come across as pompous though he did not mean it that way.

Demonstrate that blogging is easy: Most leaders want to know how the blogs notes evolve. I usually share work in progress drafts and inputs which I provide to enhance the notes. This aids other leaders to begin thinking in a certain direction on how to pen their own posts. I reference external blogs that are well written to stimulate their thinking as well.

Promote the blog often: I highlight the importance of the blog and employee engagement during workshops and team meetings. I try to find visible spots for the blog in the company newsletter and on the intranet. It is a widely recognized channel for interaction today in the organization.

Taking feedback seriously: As soon as we discovered a theme emerging from the comments posted, a discussion between the leadership and the internal communication team led to a concrete action plan. The feedback providers were intimated and the progress shared proactively.

In the long run, we are hoping to reduce e-mail communication and have the blog as a preferred mode of communication.

Have other ideas from your experience on leveraging an internal corporate blog? Interested to hear from you.


PS: I am proud to announce that Intraskope completed 150 posts since I began blogging in 2006. The blog statistics report 297 comments and over 27500 page views. I would like to thank all my readers for your feedback and encouragement.

Internal Communicators as the Company’s Historians

About 8 years ago my supervisor at a previous employer handed me a list stating my roles and responsibilities as an internal communication professional. In that, I recollect was a line which read ‘the company’s historian’. Then, as a junior member of a growing communications team it only meant ‘collating and updating’ company news. The focus was so much on getting the basics right that it never dawned on me how powerful that specific responsibility was. Today as I look back I can relate quite easily to the expectations. Knowledge farming, retention and reinforcement should be high on any internal communicator’s radar.

sun, sea and sand

sun, sea and sand

In a recent case, I helped an organization put together a timeline and a video on completing 10 years of operations in India. Interestingly, nothing previously existed in terms of a formal history timeline till the time we got down to creating one. Though the experience was phenomenal the process of putting the content together was harder  since most of the information was anecdotal and in peoples’ inboxes.

Creating the company’s history ensured there would always be something employees could refer, have a sense of culture, work ethics, progress and accomplishments. It also opened up numerous avenues for employees and managers to reflect and imbibe the fabric of the organization. Now the timeline and video are a part of the company’s induction, their team meetings, reference for press releases, social media sites and large forums.

So why is this a role of an internal communicator? In our role (and this is my understanding) – we are expected to connect the organization, enable managers and leaders to communicate effectively and provide opportunities and forums to recognize employees. Connecting the organization includes engaging the workforce by rallying around a common theme and direction, creating artifacts and repositories that enable better conversations and capturing moments that define the organization’s DNA.

So how can one go about playing this role?

Here are a few learning from the role I got to play as a ‘historian’.

a)       Have the end outcome in mind: Understand how the final result will look like. We had a timeline that got hosted on the intranet along with a video that we played for engaging local offices

b)       Keep your ears on the ground: I discovered a few sources and ‘servers’ where content was saved in the past. By asking employees I navigated to primary areas for information. One employee sent me a home video that they created that captured how the team kept fit by doing push-ups during overnight project releases!

c)       Tap your ‘history champions’: Social media research identifies two key groups – ‘collectors’ and ‘connectors’ who drive change across organizations and in the social media world. Do we know who they are in the organization?

d)       Google your company: I came across some interesting snippets from the press which we converted into a press timeline for a history module

e)       Make it accessible: Convert the ‘history’ modules into usable models such as flash files and pdfs.

f)         Be open for feedback: After we created the timeline, we opened it up for employees to comment and share their inputs. Quite like how the company evolved, the timeline also had the same effect.

Also, you may want to check out the History Factory. I received an invite via Linkedin from Warren Levy who shared this interesting website. In his words “history and heritage are more powerful communication tools than most organizations realize.”

Are You ‘Tunnel Visioning’ Your Employees?

With internal communicators struggling today to reduce information overload and help employees ‘get what they need’ there is a contrarian view at play! That of making information ‘self discovery’ a joy for your staff.

This thought was further cemented when I read an argument by a leading educationist fighting against the spread of ‘coaching institutes’ in India that make Indian students ‘brain dead’ (November 9, 2009 – Business World). Professor Yash Pal is of the opinion that we make the learning process simple enough for students to ‘meander’ through the syllabus rather than learn by rote.


From a distance

In India, professional course admissions (medicine, business management and engineering) are sought after by students resulting in mushrooming ‘coaching’ institutes that promise to ‘get you in’. I find the same mind-set when I teach MBA and media students. Even if I provide themes or ‘keywords’ hoping that students will explore further either by reading more or ‘Googling’, most often they are keen to focus on the ‘content’ taught in class so as to score higher marks in their examinations! Instead, I always believe that what you ‘learn by exploring’ is what takes you further in life – over and above your grades.

Applying that thought to internal communications I truly believe we can avoid ‘tunnel visioning’ our employees by enabling them to make suitable decisions based on ‘discovered’ information. Rather than force feed what they need to read and see.

In our quest to provide suitably crafted messages that resonate with what we expect of our employees and to get them ‘up to speed’ on what the organization stands for, we are probably obstructing our employees from growing as individuals. As internal communicators I see an opportunity to allow more interaction (face-to-face meetings considered by research to be by far the most effective form), connecting leaders with people, sharing ‘real-life’ examples of those who live the core values and allowing employees to truly discover how the company operates by experiencing it.

From induction programs to alumni forums we may often be placing information in front of employees although it might be ‘intrusive’ and ‘in their way’. Rather employees expect to be treated like adults who prefer to ‘find out’ for themselves and thereby trust what they get.

Here are some ideas I had which will help your employees get better at discovering your organization.

a)       In a large multi-national banking product company where I worked previously, we ran an ‘online treasure hunt’ and clubbed it with an ‘offline’ one as well to launch the intranet and also get employees to ‘know their organization’ better. The response was overwhelming.

b)       Leverage blogs and other social media tools to help make information accessible and less ‘intrusive’. Tag clouds and ‘hot topics’ can give employees an idea on what is getting discussed widely and therefore pay closer attention.

c)       Plan offline ‘socials’ that help employees figure out information from key stakeholders.

d)       Recognize employees who mine and share information – they form the backbone of any ‘discovery’ process in the organization.

e)       Remember to update information across the spectrum (induction to alumni) so that your employees are getting consistent chunks to bite off

f)       At a global interactive and consulting firm new joiners are allowed open access to the organization’s workspace and employees to ask questions about the values,  culture,  environment and functioning

Have other suggestions? Share them now.