Tuesday, June 17, 2014

IABC World Conference in Toronto

I am just back from speaking at the International Association of Business Communicators World Conference in Toronto where I had the pleasure of meeting a fantastic group of professional communicators.

Over this week I hope to post a number of key leanings and interesting information that was shared and discussed at the conference.

The first key note speaker was Mike Walsh a leading digital futurist and authority on building businesses for the 21st century. Rather than focusing on the distant future, Mike takes an anthropological approach - scanning the near horizon for emerging technologies and disruptive shifts in human behavior, and then translating these into pragmatic plans for business transformation.

One of the interesting anecdotes Mike shared was the list of words General Motors instructed their staff not to avoid using. The list included the following 68 words:

annihilate, apocalyptic, asphyxiating, bad, Band-Aid, big time, brakes like an “X” car, cataclysmic, catastrophic, Challenger, chaotic, Cobain, condemns, Corvair-like, crippling, critical, dangerous, deathtrap, debilitating, decapitating, defect, defecti ve, detonate, disemboweling, enfeebling, evil, eviscerated, explode, failed, flawed, genocide, ghastly, grenadelike, grisly, gruesome, Hindenburg, Hobbling, Horrific, impaling, inferno, Kevorkianesque, lacerating, life-threatening, maiming, malicious, mangling, maniacal, mutilating, never, potentially-disfiguring, powder keg, problem, rolling sarcophagus (tomb or coffin), safety, safety related, serious, spontaneous combustion, startling, suffocating, suicidal, terrifying, Titanic, unstable, widow-maker, words or phrases with a biblical connotation, you’re toast

The list appeared first in training presentations for GM staff in 2008 and GM state their culture has changed significantly since then!! We certainly hope so! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

IABC World Conference New York 2013 Presentation

I had the honour of presenting at the World Conference of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) in New York last week.

The theme of my session was 'How to change behaviors, attitudes and outcomes'. More specifically, it outlined how the key to behaviour change lies in understanding that people are 80 percent emotional and 20 percent rational. My session demonstrated how to drive performance and change behavior by connecting with employees on an emotional level. It outlined how to make employees feel good about themselves, and how to transform their thinking and attitudes. Here is the connection to the presentation for those of you who have requested a copy.



Thank you to IABC for inviting me to present. It was a privilege to speak along side such high profile speakers as former Marvel CEO, Peter Cuneo, Edelman PR’s Richard Edelman, Duarte Inc.’s Nancy Duarte, and Shelly Lazarus from Ogilvy & Mather.

About IABC
The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global network of communication professionals committed to improving organizational effectiveness through strategic communication. Established in 1970, IABC serves more than 14,000 members in 70 countries. For more information, visit iabc.com.

Fellow conference attendees as we proceeded to the open reception for the conference which was held in the Rockefeller Centre outdoor arena - very impressive - well done IABC, well done New York!  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I'm delighted to be speaking in London later this month at an event entitled 'Engaging Change' a half day seminar being run by IABC UK. Information on the event is outlined below. Looking forward to meeting everyone in London.

IABC UK Seminar 
Change can mean an exciting transformation for some – for others, it’s a revolution after which their lives are never the same. This is especially true in the workplace where employees are increasingly concerned, worried and disengaged. The very term ‘change’ is becoming redundant – in today’s world, change is a constant.

As many studies reveal, employee engagement is falling while it continues to rise on the agendas of senior management. Will they be disappointed and frustrated when efforts to increase that engagement seem to fail? Is the world such a different place that engagement needs to be rethought? Can employees still be motivated and committed to business success and go the proverbial “extra mile?”

These are some of the issues we’ll be debating at our half-day workshop Engaging Change so join the conversation and determine your own answers to these questions.

To stimulate your thinking, we will be hearing from three speakers with a particular interest and experience of engagement:

CIPD’s regular Employee Outlook survey reveals levels of employee engagement are staying around the same level. Jonny Gifford, research adviser at the CIPD, takes us through these findings and also considers broader research insights on the current state of employee engagement. Jonny adds, “Despite all the attention given to employee engagement, it has not risen – in our last survey, 37% of employees were generally engaged. To understand why, we need to dig deeper into the different components of employee engagement and look at key factors that are changing.”

This will also be an opportunity to compare your own employee survey results with the CIPD’s findings.

An expert in engagement and change communications, Stephen Windsor-Lewis shares his experience with leading large inter/national communication functions and change programmes for organisations like Lloyds Banking Group, GSK Pharmaceuticals, Royal Mail, Anglo American and BAE Systems. He will be sharing that experience and says; “Excellent case studies exist – but I’ve also heard of some spectacular failures – I think that you can learn even more from mistakes as successes.”

Three easy steps on how to change behaviours, attitudes and outcomes will be outlined by Dr Laoise O’Murcha in a preview of her IABC World conference presentation in June. An experienced communication professional who has worked both in house and agency, Laoise will show that, when times are tough, managers must help staff stay engaged, focused and motivated. She says: "four years of research spanning the demise of the Irish ‘Celtic tiger’ economy, reveals that organisations are ill-prepared for these challenges."

Mike Pounsford who is Head of Development of the IABC UK Chapter will facilitate the session. Mike has 25+ years’ experience in employee communication and change. Mike says: “We are trying to make the IABC sessions more interactive and conversational so that as well as getting input from people with experience, we all get to share our own knowledge, ideas and best practice. Our aim is for everyone to leave with not only insights and ideas about how to increase engagement in their own organisation but also two or three key action points.”

Tickets for the event can be booked on http://iabcukengagingchange-rss.eventbrite.co.uk/

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Social Media Marriage Proposal

I was really inspired in two ways when I found how social media had been a key component of these marriage proposals!!

Firstly, the proposals are compulsive watching and are really innovative. And secondly, how did they get so many of their friends and family organised to participate? Check out the videos, you too may be inspired but I warn, you may feel a little under pressure if you're planning to propose anytime soon!

I'm always watching out for ideas from the non corporate world that I could translate into the business world and there is certainly food for thought in these videos.

http://jamieleighevents.com wedding planners helped arrange these proposals





Things you should know before your Job Interview

Tips for job interviews

Graphic from http://www.nerdgraph.com/things-you-should-know-before-your-job-interview/

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Successful Employee Engagement and Social Media Event in Dublin

iabcireland's items

As President of IABC Ireland I was delighted with the success of our recent event on best practices in social media, employee engagement and measurement held in April 2013. Thanks to the IABC event co-ordinators (Keith Hoare, Maxime Sattonnay, Marykate Collins and Catherine Lowe). Author of a leading book on employee engagement and measurement Susan Walker was joined by the digital communication strategy manager for the Council of the European Union Aurelie Valtat. Check out the photos which will give you a flavour of the event.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Employee Engagement and Social Media Seminar


What happens when two leading communication experts invite you to an event designed for PR pros, corporate communicators, social media strategists and employee engagement execs?
YOU PROFIT!
The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Ireland and event partner Diageo have invited two leaders in the communications industry to teach an event in Dublin emphasizing best practices in social media, employee engagement and measurement. 
Author of a leading book on employee engagement and measurement Susan Walker is joined by the digital communication strategy Manager of the Council of the European Union to present at this seminar.

Event Details
Date:  Friday 5th April, 2013
Time:  6pm-8pm (Refreshments served 5.15 - 5.45pm)
Venue: The Master Brewer Suite, “The Guinness Storehouse”, St. James’s Gate

If you are a manager working in employee engagement or social media today, you don't want to miss this "expert led" event.

You will learn...
How social media is redefining the meaning of "engagement"
Ways to persuade your senior leaders to embrace social media and lessons on how to create a vibrant social media presence
Tools to create connections, interactions and conversations that engage employees 
Practical, real-life case studies from organisations that are doing employee engagement measurement well
Don't miss these best practices from leading practitioners in social media and employee engagement. PLUS—you'll get a chance to network with communication professionals from the public and private sector industry from all over Ireland.

Speakers: Aurelie Valtat
Aurelie Valtat is currently driving the digital communication strategy of the Council of the European Union. She will speak about "Embedding social media into the communication mix of risk-averse organisations". She will focus particularly on the use of social media in internal change management programmes, public innovation and crisis situations.
Before joining the European institutions, Aurelie was the online communications manager at EUROCONTROL, the European air traffic management agency. She introduced social media to the organisation’s communication mix during the ‘Ash Cloud’ crisis and had over 7,000 followers within days.

Speaker 2: Susan Walker
Susan Walker is a leading figure in engagement and communication measurement from the UK. She directed blue-chip and public-sector organisations surveys as Head of Human Resources Research with the international research firm MORI. She has developed new approaches to interpreting and understanding results to drive action forward. She has contributed to books on this topic and has recently published her own book covering this field. She will speak about employee engagement and the important task of measurement.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Creating B2B digital content

Here is a great free ebook for B2B marketers and strategic communicators on creating great digital content. An easy to follow seven step process. It explains what makes successful content in the social media world.

Created by Steve Seager it is available on http://www.steveseager.com/the-anatomy-of-great-content/



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Employee Engagement

This video by INVOLVE is based on statistics from the Harvard Business Review. It  summaries the importance of employee engagement and the impact it has on an organisation's bottom line.  I like it. 


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Taking a different view!

Inspired by Suzanne Salvo at the EMELI European Leadership Institute in Paris recently I took this photo before returning home.



Suzanne a multi-award winning photographer believes that quantity has won out over quality when it comes to photography and video production. She explained that,
'any image that can be had cheap and that vaguely resembles the who, what or why of a story - no matter how badly exposed, haphazardly composed, no matter how poorly lit - is being published.' 
After showing us a sample of these 'poor' photos (many of which looked uncomfortably familiar to me) she provided us all with some useful tips on achieving more interesting photos. 
  • Look at your subject from a more interesting perspective 
  • Tell a story with your photos

Inspired but not confident, I decided to start with inanimate objects in my quest to take more interesting photos! I'll let you know how I get on when I progress to humans. 

Suzanne and her husband Chris are co-owners of Salvo Photography, an international award-winning studio and when they are not undertaking assignments around the globe they share their experience in action-packed workshops. I am a total convert - sign me up for the next one!! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Exploring Internal Communication: The text book for those working in or aiming to work in Internal Communication


I am delighted to be able to give you details about a text book on internal communications to which I have contributed, entitled Exploring Internal Communication. Chapter 5 entitled 'Auditing internal communication: four quadrants of internal communication success', is based on my PhD research and provides readers with a powerful tool to measure and improve internal communication quality. The tool helps build successful communication in a business.

Edited by Kevin Ruck the book is both a companion for UK's Chartered Institute of Public Relations qualifications in internal communication and a general introduction to the fast developing fields of internal communication and employee engagement. It is relevant to people currently working in these areas, from either a corporate communication or human resources background, and also to operational managers seeking a better understanding of internal communication.

The book is available on amazon.co.uk at Exploring Internal Communications and is also available directly from the The PR Academy website.

Happy Reading.

You're asking for it, if you are not asking for it - employee feedback!


Remember Gallup’s landmark research on the drivers of organizational success. Two of the twelve most powerful drivers were:
  1. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  2. At work, my opinions seem to count.
Caring about what your employees have to say has a huge bottom line impact. Successful communication in a business a essential key to delivering bottom line results. 

However, a word of warning, you must take action on the feedback you receive. People often ask me, do employees not get tired of being asked for their opinion and their feedback? The answer is no, not if their views are listened to and acted upon. If action is taken, asking for employee feedback is the easiest way of building employee engagement and morale. 

Here's an interesting article from David Lee on this very topic http://www.humannatureatwork.com/articles/employee_morale/Employee-Feedback.htm

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Leadership question

Have you ever struggled to explain the difference between leadership and management when it comes to your role.

In this You Tube video Tom Peters explains it in a very clear and simple manner.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Employee Engagement: Enough!

I really liked this article I read recently by Paul Hebert from Bloomberg.

The recession is no time to worry about employee engagement.

Sure, go ahead and worry about employee engagement. After all, you’re in this fix because of a lack of engagement, right? The lack of sales, lack of new product and service innovation, and the high cost to build, produce, sell, and service are all engagement issues. If only you had engaged employees, all those problems would disappear. “Damn those employees. They should be engaged, and they’re not. We have to engage our employees to survive (cue dramatic fist pound on mahogany table in senior executive conference room.)”

Everyone is focusing on the employee engagement problem. But in reality, now is not the time to worry about finding ways to engage employees. Now is the time to be reflective and address the real issues in business today. Let’s take a cue from the late Michael Jackson:

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change

Yep, it is all your fault.

The problem with focusing on “employee engagement” is that makes it sound as though employees were disengaged because of the lack of employee engagement programs. But engagement programs treat the symptom not the disease.

The real disease is poor management—and that’s you, bucky. Employees don’t need programs and engagement strategies. They need managers with vision, an understanding that employees want and need to work to the best of their abilities. Employees need managers working together toward a shared strategy for the company, not managers that worry about building individual silos. Employees don’t need to be engaged—managers need to be improved. Employee engagement is about having a well-run enterprise based on consistently applied values. Do that, and engagement follows.

Back to work!

I have been absent from my blog over the past few months as I was working night and day on getting the final stage of my PhD over the line. I am delighted to say that it is now complete and has received the official seal of approval - much to my relief! So starting today I hope to be able to continue to post thought provoking articles for internal communication professionals.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, what does it mean for internal comms?

It’s that time of year. Edelman have just published their 2012 Trust Barometer. Unsurprisingly, trust in government has massively dropped. But what’s the score for businesses and the implications for internal communication? There are a few significant findings:

1. There has been a dramatic increase in trust in social media – it is now at almost the same level as corporate information sources. This is a important consideration for internal communications as employees now have ready access to information about the company from external social media sources.

2. There has also been a massive drop in trust in CEOs, the most trusted resource within an organization is the average employee (60 percent). This highlights the importance of face-to-face communication as well as employee "communication champions".

3. The average person needs to hear a story three to five times from different sources before they believe it. This reinforces the fact that our internal messages have to be presented through a variety of channels.

If you are interested in learning more, my good friend Steve Seager, has already helpfully posted an analysis of it. Why not check out his post here.

2012 Edelman Trust Barometer: Global Deck


View more presentations from Edelman Insights

Friday, January 27, 2012

Highly effective communicators are making greater use of social media than their less- effective peers

On average, however, usage is fast outpacing effectiveness. While the use of social media has expanded over the last 12 months for all, highly effective communicators are more than twice as likely as the least-effective group of companies to have expanded their use of social media. This online article highlights results from Watson Wyatt on the use of social media in organisational communication.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

They are not really social media 'experts'

There are many self proclaimed social media ‘experts’ in the market place at the moment. The following are a number of warning signs that your ‘expert’ doesn’t really know what they are talking about.

1. There are social media icons in their email signature, but when you click on the links you they haven’t updated the page in weeks or months.

2. The social media icons on their website, lead to social streams that haven’t been updated.

3. They don’t appear to have actually used the tools they are advising you to use.

4. They don’t talk about engagement with customers when they talk about social media tools.

5. Their heir Klout scores is very poor.

6. They have no suggestions about how to measure success.

7. They guarantee immediate results.

These tips and more can be found on Andrew Worob’s blog at PR at Sunrise. Andrew has worked in PR for ten years.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Top five powerpoint presentation annoyances

Responses from over 600 presentation recipients highlights the top five things that people find most annoying when watching presentations. 

They are:
The speaker read the slides to us – 73.8%
Full sentences instead of bullet points – 51.6%
The text was so small I couldn’t read it – 48.1%
Slides hard to see because of color choice – 34.0%
Overly complex diagrams or charts – 26.0%

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Making speeches memorable – some tips!

In an article, "Why concrete language communicates truth," the author states that when you speak and write using unambiguous language, people will believe you.

Choosing words that reinforce the concrete nature of your statement make it more credible . Here are some examples:

1. Be specific with nouns.. Instead of "cars," say "Thunderbird" and instead of "breakfast," say "steak and eggs." Use more action verbs. Use fewer adjectives and adverbs, and stick to concrete nouns and verbs. You won't sound as if you're exaggerating and your credibility will shine through.

2. Avoid ambiguity. Read your lines aloud to a friend this will help you will hear the words that may confuse confusion for your audience. Aim to use simple, universal terms.

3. Use concrete verbs: Use solid, concrete and unambiguous verbs for example verbs like 'count' and 'write'. Avoid verbs that are less clear such as 'help' and 'insult' as they are open to interpretation.

3. Paint a picture. Describe an event of picture that your audience can imagine in their head. That kind of specific, easy-to-understand description does more than any slide to make your talk memorable—and credible.

Steve Jobs died at age 56

The man who started Apple computer in a garage died just two months after resigning as CEO.

Not surprisingly, #RIPSteveJobs became an immediate trending topic on Twitter.
Many tweeted quotes from Jobs, such as “Stay hungry. Stay foolish" and "Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life." Both are taken from Jobs’ 2005 commencement address at Stanford.

For those who haven't heard Jobs' Stanford address you can check it out on:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=D1R-jKKp3NA#!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Poor training!

Has an employee ever come to you with a problem to which you helpfully answer, , “If I were you, I would…”

You may feel satisfied that you have helped but you may well be storing up trouble for yourself. 

The reality is that when this employee came to you they had a problem. You helpfully took ownership of that problem and relieved your employee of responsibility for solving the problem themselves. As a manager this type of action trains your staff to come to you with their problems instead of trying to resolve the issues themselves. This can lead to you becoming embroiled in office politics taking you away from your role as a leader. Beware!


The key is to actively listen and allow staff to think through, analyse and arrive at solutions themselves. 



What motivates employees?

Employee’s emotions and motivation change on a daily basis but according to recent Harvard research there is one tool that motivates employees more than anything else. Can you guess what it is? It’s not clear goals, it’s not incentives, it’s not even recognition for good work. According to lead researcher, Teresa Amible the biggest improvement in motivation will be seen if you focus first on helping your employees make progress.

The researchers have named this phenomenon the progress principle and the implications of it for managers are laid out in the book The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work. The research, which took over ten years to complete, explains that while recognition and providing financial incentives for a job well done are still important, there are two questions above all else that help managers motivate their employees. The questions are: “What can I do to help my team make progress in their work today?” “What is getting in the way of my team’s progress?” When the answers are identified and remedial action is taken employees are likely to me highly engaged.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Role of CSR in organisations - does it impact on organisational culture?

Discussions about ‘values’ are now jostling with ‘risk’ in board rooms. ‘Authenticity’, ‘engagement’, ‘culture’ and ‘passion’ are starting to define the ‘corporate soul’ and ‘true north’ of organisations.

Echo Research and the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) have partnered to produce a report that aims to provide a better understanding of the drivers of success in the field of corporate sustainability and responsibility.

The report is entitled A World in Trust - International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF)
www.iblf.org/~/media/Files/.../World-in-trust-IBLF-Echo_Research.ashx

Euprera 2011

I'm just back from presenting at the Euprera (European Public Relations Education and Research Association) and I heard and had the chance to meet some really interesting speakers.

Prof Tom Watson presented on the role of ROI (Return on Investment) in public relations. Interestingly, he argued that the use of the term may actually be damaging the reputation of public relations instead of enhancing it.   He argues that while measurement and evaluation of our work is essential referring to an accountancy term (ROI) may detract from our credibility instead of adding to it! Interesting, food for thought.

Arthur Page was the Head of Communication in AT&T over 70 years ago. The guidelines by which he worked became known as the Page Principles. They are still relevant today.
  1. Tell the truth. Let the public know what’s happening and provide an accurate picture of the company’s character, ideals and practices.
  2. Prove it with action. Public perception of an organization is determined 90 percent by what it does and 10 percent by what it says.
  3. Listen to the customer. To serve the company well, understand what the public wants and needs. Keep top decision makers and other employees informed about public reaction to company products, policies and practices.
  4. Manage for tomorrow. Anticipate public reaction and eliminate practices that create difficulties. Generate goodwill.
  5. Conduct public relations as if the whole company depends on it. Corporate relations is a management function. No corporate strategy should be implemented without considering its impact on the public. The public relations professional is a policymaker capable of handling a wide range of corporate communications activities.
  6. Realize a company’s true character is expressed by its people. The strongest opinions — good or bad — about a company are shaped by the words and deeds of its employees. As a result, every employee — active or retired — is involved with public relations. It is the responsibility of corporate communications to support each employee’s capability and desire to be an honest, knowledgeable ambassador to customers, friends, shareowners and public officials.
  7. Remain calm, patient and good-humored. Lay the groundwork for public relations miracles with consistent and reasoned attention to information and contacts. This may be difficult with today’s contentious 24-hour news cycles and endless number of watchdog organizations. But when a crisis arises, remember, cool heads communicate best.

Editing tool now available on YouTube

You can now edit your videos onsite on You Tube with a new editing tool they have introduced. All you have to do is click “Edit Video” on your video’s page or on the My Videos page. While the editing tool won’t replace other advanced editing software packages it will enable users to make simple changes in an easier and less time consuming manner.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bathroom talk - the new employee communication tool


I read recently that many leading companies are printing employee communications on the office toilet paper! Thankfully that was a joke. However, it is a fact that more and more organisations are using the company restroom as an opportunity to communicate with employees.


In an article entitled  ‘It's okay to 'stall' employees’ Employee Benefit News outlines how  you can boost communication by capturing employees attention while they are taking a break. They rationalise that in most American homes, the bathroom is the library so it is logical that companies should use their restroom facilities to provide company reading material

Among their suggestions to effectively use the restrooms for communication are:
1. Post communications at eye level for those seated in the stall.
2. Keep the in-stall info sheets to a single page.
3. Include images, since people are more likely to pay attention to messages with pictures.
4. Change the materials every two weeks.
5. Use differently coloured paper for each update to signal the arrival of new reading material.
6. Get an intercom system installed to enable personal CEO messages to be delivered during the high-volume morning hours.
OK, I made that last one up! But it may be worthwhile considering the other suggestions. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Riots in the UK - interesting case study.

There is no doubt the riots in the UK will be a very interesting case study from a pr perspective. Interest in London had increased due to the royal wedding and the upcoming Olympics and it will be interesting to see the reputational damage the riots may have. Given that the riots appear to now be under control PR may be able to sell it as “a moment of madness”. Interestingly, social media sites have come under fire as the PM suggested that Facebook, Twitter and Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry, should take more responsibility for content posted on their networks. This will be another interesting angle to watch.

Customers can boost employee engagement

Motivated and engaged employees lead to improved results and higher levels of performance. However, many organisations struggle with engagement and many managers feel pressure to be the motivators of their teams. Many organisations would like some assistance in this area.

This is why the Harvard Business Review article “How Customers Can Rally Your Troops” caught my attention. The article describes how a five-minute meeting motivated university fundraisers to increase their weekly productivity by 400% and how a photograph drove radiologists to improve the accuracy of their diagnostic findings by 46%.

The interesting element in the article is that it wasn’t managers who motivated employees but customers. The article outlines the growing body of research which shows that end users—customers, clients, patients, and others who benefit from a company’s products and services—are surprisingly effective in motivating people to work harder, smarter, and more productively.

The article provides some interesting case study examples on this technique. Definitely worth a read.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hear what your employees are really saying

Most of us now know of the Gallup poll that says the number one reason people leave their job is because of a poor relationship with the boss. “People leave managers not companies…in the end, turnover is mostly a management issue.” Gallup adds that poorly managed work groups are on average 50 percent less productive and 44 percent less profitable than well-managed groups. There is a long list of “bad boss” behaviours that contribute to poor but, the most common complaint is, “My boss doesn’t listen to me.”

The way to become a better listener is to practice "active listening". This is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent.

In order to do this you must pay attention to the other person very carefully and take the following steps:

L: Look – make eye contact.

I: Inquire – Use who, what, where, when and why questions but do not make any personal comments or provide advice, just listen.

S: Summarise - Summarise what the employee has said in your own words. So what you are saying is…. This shows you are listening and allows the employee to clarify the situation if you have misunderstood.

T: Take notes

E: Encourage - Encourage them to explain the problem fully by using head nodding etc. 

N: Neutralise – Neutralise your feelings towards the employee. Listen to the content of what they are saying and seek understanding of what they are trying to say.



Employee Focus Groups: Five Tips

No-frills employee focus groups can sometimes be the best way to get employee feedback. Below are five tips to help ensure you get the most out of your focus groups.

1. Keep it intimate. Invite only 10 to 12 participants to the session. The more people you have in a room, the easier it is for some of the more reserved participants to
withdraw and keep quiet. If you have a smaller group, they will feel more a part of the discussion.

2. Mix it up. Work to have as departmentally diverse a representation as possible, depending on the topic. You want to get input from different workgroups in the organisation.

3. Set ground rules. The purpose of the roundtable is to gather input on a chosen topic. At the outset, let participants know that what they say is confidential, that you are there to listen, capture feedback and report on general comments.

4. Stay on track. Try to keep the session to one topic if you can.
5. Keep it short. Keep your focus groups to about 45-minutes. In my experience, this can work to your advantage. When participants know they have a small window of opportunity to provide their opinions on the topic, they're more likely to speak up.

Which change model is best?

A number of change models have served me well. I used all or a version of all the five models listed below. They are useful to have in your change toolbox and they are all must reads if you are going to be working alongside those involved in organisational development.  

1. Kotter’s 8 step model.
This was the first change model I used and it appears to be the most widely cited. It is probably the oldest of the change models but that doesn’t mean it is not still useful today. It was developed by Harvard Professor John Kotter and he spent a career perfecting it. It is very intuitive and clearly presented. I have found the 8 step model a very useful guide.  

2. Bridge’s Change model.
First outlined by William Bridges in his book Managing Transitions, Making the Most of Change. This model provides step-by-step strategies for minimizing the disruptions caused by workplace change. The primary model is “Endings, Transitions, and Beginnings”, but the book also has other useful tools, checklists, and models, including the “Marathon Effect”.


3. Beckhard’s Change Equation.
This simple model can be a of benefit when management begin to talk about change. Developed by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher the simple formula provides plenty of food for thought. The model is 
D x V x F › R.
D V and F must be present if change is to succeed.

D = Dissatisfaction with the status quo;
V = Vision of what is possible; 

F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision.
R = If any of these factors are missing or weak, then you’re going to get resistance.


4. Kurt Lewin Change Model.
This  three stage theory of change has sometimes been dismissed as being too simple but I believe it has some interesting insights. The model can be summarised as Unfreeze, Change, Freeze (or Refreeze). The force-field analysis he outlines as part of the unfreeze stage can be useful when organisations begin examining change. It is a useful model to have in the toolkit.

5. Kubler-Ross.
Kubler-Ross outlined the 5 stages of grief in her book On Death and Dying. The model is equally applicable to any significant change process. It is useful to use it along side other change models and it helps explain the emotional impact that change can have on those affected.

In summary, I have found elements in each of these models which are useful. If you are undertaking a change initiative reading the above texts will definitely be of benefit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Speaking the language of leaders.

I was lucky to present at Bledcom in Slovenia, an International Public Relations Symposium that has been organized over the past 17 years to provide a venue for public relations scholars and practitioners from around the world to exchange ideas and perspectives about public relations in all its forms. This year the focus is on Internal Communication. It was a great conference and the debt of knowledge presented at the event shows how seriously internal communicaiton is now being taken.

My paper, “Internal communicators who fail to talk the facts and figures of the corporate suite" was the first time I presented the main findings of my PhD research.

Here is the abstract to my paper:

Abstract

Business leaders and internal communication managers inherently understand that effective internal communication is a business imperative. It builds staff morale, motivation and engagement. It also builds a healthy organisational culture and helps facilitate change, all of which deliver bottom line results for the organisation.

However, if you ask for proof of the value of internal communication you may be provided with an anecdote or two, presented with a good article in a major publication or shown the results of an employee satisfaction survey, but most organisations still fail to consistently prove the positive causal relationship between internal communication efforts and business success. The failure to prove the benefits of internal communication is due in part to a failure to measure communications activity. However, a lack of measurement is not the sole reason. There are a number of contributing factors such as a lack of a clear communications strategy and a lack of clear and measurable objectives for communication activities, poor leadership support and a weak guiding coalition supporting communication within the organisation. All these elements contribute to making evaluation of the value added by internal communication problematic.

This paper aims to establish whether the case study organisations directly tie internal communication results to strategic management and tangible bottom line results. It also aims
 to establish if internal communication is seen as a strategic management function or is it a technical function to be managed by others. It also aims to identify the criteria necessary for excellence in internal communication. The study uses the generic benchmark of the critical success factors and best practice in communication management, as outlined in Grunig et al’s Excellence Study, as a framework for investigating the internal communication practices in public and private sector organisations in Ireland.

The findings presented are the result of a three stage process involving: (i) international review of best practice in communication and internal communication, and research into effective communication practices in individual organisations; (ii) in-depth interviews with CEOs (or their representatives), internal communication managers and individual staff members in public and private sector organisations in the profit and non-profit sector in Ireland (iii) analysing results finalising and publishing conclusions.

The findings reveal that the hard work of the internal communicators is not leading to demonstrable success. This is because the implementation of the communication tools often takes priority over other important communication activities such as strategy development, clear objective setting, building a guiding coalition and measurement. The findings suggest that internal communication remains mainly focussed on the technical journalistic-type activities. In this paper, and the researcher discusses the findings and suggests the use of the ‘O’MurchĂș Internal Communication Matrix’ to ensure that internal communicators organise and execute their work in a manner that will lead to success and the development of tangible bottom line results.

Isn’t Honesty the Only Policy?

I read an interesting article on insidedge recently and I really liked the analogy of employee communication being similar to selling a used car to a family member. If you don’t tell the truth, he or she will find out sooner or later that the roof leaks or the brakes stick; whatever might be wrong, or right, will always come out.  So, you have to tell the whole truth before you ask them to buy, because they won’t be going anywhere. They’ll be around for holidays, and they definitely know where you live. Full article here. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Obama now tweets live

For PR practitioners who are sometimes told our stories aren't newsworthy enough its amazing that Barack Obama's tweeting makes news across the world ! Just in case you haven't heard the story is that President Barack Obama recently referred to himself as “the first president to live tweet.”  His tweet read : “in order to reduce the deficit, what costs would you cut and what investments would you keep?”.

Obama's live tweeting is only the latest example of the President’s interest in social media. In May, the president named Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to his National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Build Excitement and Engagement about Town Halls meetings

Your next Town Hall meeting is marked in your CEO’s calendar – that in itself may be an accomplishment – but how to you make the town hall exciting. How to you get employees to leave their desks, come to the venue and engage in the session?

Getting employees to actually want to attend is the role of manager’s throughout the organisation but you as communicator can help. Here’s are some tips:

Plan ahead. Start planning about 4-5 weeks before a quarterly meeting. Identify front-line and middle managers who are opinion leaders and can act as communication champions. These managers are key to encouraging employees attendance.

Outline the purpose of the meeting. Define the purpose for the upcoming meeting and set a participation goal – no less than 90 percent. Write a personalised email from the CEO to the identified managers about the purpose of the meeting.

Canvas staff opinion. Canvas staff for key topics that staff would like covered at the town hall meeting. This ensures that employees needs are also met during the meeting.

Build momentum. Senior leaders should use every opportunity to promote the meetings while speaking with staff by outlining the importance and relevance of the content.

Cultivate topics for Q&A. One week before the meeting, ask staff for their questions via a feedback collection tool that has been established for the meeting.

Finally, involve front-line and middle managers in the actual meeting. Have a group of managers from different departments ask a number of questions at the beginning of the Q&A session. Apply this shared ownership model to your next Town Hall and watch the value of the meeting soar.

The Power of Storytelling in Organisational Communication

The Book “Tell to Win” by Peter Guber, Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, details how storytelling can be used as a power tool to move employees to action. Gruber explains that his background in the movie business, ‘the emotional transportation business’, taught him how to find words that demonstrate the power and passion he had for this work. He believes that if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it, and you will fail. His book is a very interesting read for all involved in communication. Here’s a short interview with Guber conducted by Forbes. http://video.forbes.com/fvn/business/tell-to-win

Why Leaders Lose Their Way - Ethical Issues

In recent months several high-level leaders have mysteriously lost their way. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund and a leading French politician, was arraigned on charges of sexual assault. Before that David Sokol, rumored to be Warren Buffett's successor, was forced to resign for trading in Lubrizol stock prior to recommending that Berkshire Hathaway purchase the company. This article in the Harvard Business reviews "Why Leaders Fail". http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6741.html

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Jonah Lehrer - Speaker at IABC World Conference

Excerpts from Jonah Lehrer's speech, "How We Decide: The New Science of Decision Making," at the IABC World Conference on June 12, 2011, in San Diego, California. Jonah Lehrer is the author of two books, Proust Was a Neuroscientist and How We Decide.
http://www.youtube.com/user/BillSpaniel?feature=mhum

Monday, June 13, 2011

IABC World Conference

In San Diego at IABC World conference. Lots of interesting information. Will have newsletter with the key learnings from the conference. Let me know if you'd like to receive it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From here to America - more elections.

Now that our own elections are over the build up to the American election is getting interesting. Donald Trump debuts in a first-place tie in Gallup's latest update of Republicans' preferences for the party's 2012 presidential nomination among potential contenders.


http://www.gallup.com/poll/147233/Huckabee-Trump-Romney-Pace-GOP-Field-2012.aspx?utm_source=tagrss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_term=Politics

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Flip has flopped

Flip Camera, my trusted toy has seen its last days. I'm upset but I'm sure there will be other products to take its place. 


In 2009 Cisco bought Flip. Last week it announced that it plans to discontinue the range. With Cisco experiencing the same financial challenges as many companies it has decided to focus on its core offerings. It believes it has been spreading its offerings too widely. Flip looses out in this decision - even though the product is still making a profit. Cisco announced this week it will no longer make Flip cameras and is pulling back on its consumer product strategy.


It is believed that the Kodak will pick up most of the Flip market but  iPhone or Android are also sure to provide an equally good service very shortly. I'm still sad though:(

Saturday, April 9, 2011

EuroComm 2011 - Fantastic learning

Just back from EuroComm 2011. Learnt a lot and met some really interesting people. Also presented  own research on internal communication practices in Ireland. You can read my article  on http://www.simply-communicate.com/news/understanding-language-c-suite.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Working for you, isn't working for me.

Many of my friends have been asking recently how to deal with difficult bosses. Previously, during the "celtic tiger" years they may just have got a new job. Now, with employment in a more precarious situation they feel more trapped than before.  So I went exploring and found a little gem of a book called "Working for you, isn't working for me". 

An easy read it identifies  the difficult boss characteristics. It also provides a "boss baggage profile" - i.e. what baggage the reader brings to the table and how this can impact on their work relationship. It then outlines coping mechanisms for dealing with each boss depending on the readers baggage profile. 

The first few chapters are very interesting -especially when detailing how people  react when a boss relationship begins to deteriorate; replaying the events of the day, trying even harder and becoming nervous etc. 

Definitely worth a read on Google Books.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Harvard Business School has proven the effectiveness of storytelling - but how do we use this tool?

The Harvard Business School has proven the effectiveness of storytelling  to communicate even the most complex issues. But how do we create an effective story. This interview with McKinsey provides some valuable insights. 
Good stories have three components: a strong beginning, a strong end, and a point of tension. Most people confuse stories with situations. They’ll tell about a situation: Xhappened, Y happened, Z happened. But a good story takes Y, the middle part of the story, and creates tension or conflict where the reader or the audience is drawn into the story, what’s going to happen next.
Treating stories as assets is an underrealized idea right now. Stories serve as glue to unify communities. Stories spread from employee to employee, from consumer to consumer, and, in some cases, from employee to consumer or consumer to employee. Stories are much more memorable than statistics or simple anecdotes and are a mechanism that allows communities to grow. Strong stories can be told and retold. They become infectious.
There are at least four important stories that all companies should have in their portfolio. The first is the “who am I?” story—you know, how did we get started? The second is the “vision” story, the “where are we going in the future?” This may or may not be connected to the “who are we?” story. A third is the “apology and recovery” story. In any long-term relationship, there is inevitably going to be transgression. But it is remarkable to see how few companies have thought through what a transgression is for them and how they might respond to it. The final type of story that becomes really important for corporations to have in their bank is the “personal” story: what are the personal stories that are being incubated and cultivated within the organization? This is a very different type of story. This shines a light on people rather than the organization.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Front line supervisors are employees preferred source of communication, right?

Research by Angela D. Sinickas, demonstrates that front line supervisors are not always the preferred source of communication within an organisation. The preferred source for receiving communication changes depending on the information to be communicated.


Sinickas outlines that a soundly designed communication audit should ask:
  • Which source of communication is currently your primary source of company information on X?
  • Which source of communication is your preferred primary source of information on Y?
The X and Y should include but is not limited to company objectives? Department goals? Quality improvement? Benefits? Safety? Company financial situation? Reasons behind decisions? New products or services? What the competition is doing? News from other locations and departments? People changes and recognition? Other subjects that are important only at your own company?


When the questions are asked individually by subject the choices of preferred methods of communication vary depending on the topic being discussed. In general front-line supervisors are the preferred source of "my job" level issues while top management are the preferred source on issues they don’t believe their managers will have the full insights into.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Twenty Best Companies for Leadership

Here is an interesting article if you want to learn what the best companies do to help build effective leaders. Corporate officers for each of the top twenty companies listed discuss their employers' approach to developing strong leaders. Short and to the point - it makes an interesting read. 


http://images.businessweek.com/ss/10/02/0216_best_places_for_leadership/index.htm?chan=careers_special+report+--+best+places+for+interns+2010

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Three steps to building a better top team

When a top team fails to function, it can paralyze a whole company. the stakes get higher with senior-executive teams: dysfunctional ones can slow down, derail, or even paralyze a whole company. This article by McKinsey outlines what CEOs need to watch out for. http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Three_steps_to_building_a_better_top_team_2743

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Leaders and Self-deception

Recent crises have led me to wonder what some leaders see when they look at themselves in the mirror. As if in the “Hall of Mirrors” in a carnival, what they see appears to be different to what a majority of those looking directly at them see.

This distorted reflection can be the result of leaders isolating themselves, choosing to be surrounded by people who gain the most by taking viewpoints the leaders most want to hear. It is understandable that leaders may not want to face the anger of their people or employees but if they don’t they have no way of knowing what is truly happening. Shutting off contact and communication enables a self-deception. It enables the leader to disengage and disconnect from the actual reality. It enables them to disconnect from the impact their decisions are having on others. This can do untold damage to those affected and it creates a trust gap. This inevitably leads to loss of motivation, morale and productivity.

It is our job as communicators to ensure the lines of communication remain open and functioning, especially after a crisis. Whatever the reflection, if it is seen and understood it can be dealt with. If self-deception reigns the consequences will be serious. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Useful Google App for creating professional diagrams

Drawing diagrams can be a hassle. Representing your ideas in a professional manner can take considerable time. Not any more. If you use Google Chrome you can download one of its apps ‘Lovely Charts’ to make creating charts child’s play. Its very simple drag ‘n drop mechanism allows you to create professional looking diagrams including flowcharts, site maps and organisational charts in a simple easy manner.

The software is free to use as long as you are only using one diagram at a time. If you need to store multiple diagrams which you may wish to edit to can subscribe for a monthly fee of approx €3. You can check it out- like I said its free and may save you a lot of time.

Companies using social media are making more money, says McKinsey

Interesting research from McKinsey suggests that companies using social media  or “collaborative Web 2.0 technologies” are achieving higher profits.


This makes the case for a return on investment, a question that is often asked by senior management as well as public relations professionals trying to get to grips with social media as part of PR 2.0. It seems to show that companies that are starting to do it well are being rewarded for their efforts. More than that, it says those that fail to implement social media could be making a “critical mistake”.

McKinsey says these “networked enterprise” are gaining significantly improved performance and are not “only more likely to be market leaders or to be gaining market share”, but also use management practices that lead to margins higher than those of companies using the web in more limited ways.


Read more: http://wallblog.co.uk/2011/01/10/companies-using-social-media-are-making-more-money-says-mckinsey/#ixzz1Ar97PY1f

Saturday, February 5, 2011

“I’m eating my cookie” – a new way to say no comment? I don’t think so!

In the era of social media every comment is on the record. Some spokespersons are learning this the hard way. 

In Canada Alberta’s hospitals ran out of beds. The public was upset about the long emergency room wait times and the press came looking for answers. Dr. Stephen Duckett, CEO of the Alberta government agency with responsibility for the health of more than 3.5 million Canadians, was targeted by the press to answer their questions. Unfortunately, he was not in the mood to answer any questions and was in fact more interested in eating his cookie. Instead of expressing his full commitment to improving the situation he gave this interview. This interview got him fired!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DxeCK5Ne_Q&playnext=1&list=PL0FDD15D77ADFC1E2 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Consultation Guidelines

Was involved in a public consultation recently and I found a very useful document online on http://www.betterregulation.ie/eng/Publications/Reaching_Out_-_Guidelines_on_Consultation_for_Public_Sector_Bodies.html . The guidelines are designed  for public sector organisations but I think they would be useful for any organisation involved in public consultation. In easy to read language and with useful checklists it may be a good document to have in your communications toolkit.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A rare comparison of the major social media monitoring services available.

Do you feel you need some help listening to everything that is being said in the social media space about your company or clients? Do you feel a little at sea? This article might be exactly what you are looking for it details many the major monitoring companies, the services they provide and how much they cost. I very good read if you are thinking of moving into this space. http://www.socialmedia.biz/2011/01/12/top-20-social-media-monitoring-vendors-for-business/

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A fairytale with no happy ending. Social media can only do so much!


Recently, Ted Williams demonstrated the power of social media when a Youtube video of him, a homeless man with a golden voice went viral, generating over 12 million hits in its first days. The job offers came flying in and it looked as if the fairytale was coming true. However, reports that he has been arrested after an altercation with his daughter suggests that this fairytale may not have a happy ending. You can see the video on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaGLDKBE8Ho