Friday, July 24

Pulling Employees: Five Es For Internal Audiences


As much as people talk about pull communication for customers, there is another audience that needs it. Employees.

Even when I speak to public relations students, I always include at least one class that reinforces just how much impact external communication has on internal audiences. My concluding point is always the same — the best communication happens from the inside out. Today, this concept is especially true as the barriers between the two are largely non-existent.

Five Es For Better Employee Communication.

• Engagement. Ongoing and open two-way communication that travels from the bottom up as much as the top down. Employees who feel connected to top management tend to outperform companies who feel disconnected, especially in an environment where more CEOs seem accessible to customers. At minimum, employees deserve to know first.

• Education. Ongoing education, training, and information that goes beyond company updates or departmental functions often provides a context greater than the confines of a single job description. One of the best internal communication pieces I had ever read for a utility was a five-part series on the history of natural gas. The employees thought so too.

• Empowerment. Setting goals and actions for employees is always important, but communicating that employees can make recommendations helps establish their ownership of a particular job function. The concept is what put Dana Corporation on the modeling map years ago.

• Encouragement. While leading by example is critical, demonstrating that an employer is capable of performing specific duties (if not already engaged in them) can invigorate teams. I saw an example firsthand when the general manager of one of the premier hotel brands in the world paused to "fluff" a chair cushion.

• Exemplification. Recognition for individuals, teams, or specific actions that go beyond the privacy of personnel reviews set precedence and help create corporate culture. One of the most successful campaign launches for a new health care program we developed for one company included visible incentives for those who enrolled early.

When you really stop to think about it, the same companies that have successfully developed social media programs are the same companies with internal communication programs that range from better than average to the best in the world. In fact, when looking back on the top ten list shared from EngagementDB last Monday, I'm a bit remiss that there was not more emphasis on the work behind the work that helped make these companies successful online. That work is internal communication.

2 comments:

Larry Underwood on 7/24/09, 4:21 PM said...

Excellent observations! If every company would follow these guidelines to success, economic recovery would be well under way---with no Stimulis Package required.

Rich on 7/25/09, 5:04 PM said...

Larry,

Exactly. While the economy has directly impacted some companies that rely exclusively on supplying parts to lackluster companies (e.g., automotive suppliers), moving forward is optional for many businesses. At minimum, improving infrastructure and employee engagement would beat out waiting for government handouts.

All my best,
Rich

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