Tag Archives: Internal Communications

Will social media kill off the Pulse Survey?

Every year companies run out their Pulse Survey, but is time running out for the Pulse Survey. Could the same sentiment software used for social media analysis mean the death of the Pulse Survey?

Of late I’ve been looking at some sentiment software and how it might be used inside a corporation to gauge employee mood. The idea is that the same techniques used to monitor sentiment across the ‘blogosphere’ and ‘Twitterverse’  could also be used for an internal enterprise social network.

My current thinking on this is that it’s a bit of the proverbial sledgehammer. It would be far more easy to simply monitor it manually, or if needed to set up special focus groups, perhaps as Private or Secret Groups (to use Jive’s nomenclature) and ask people what they think. It might potentially be of use when a network gets to say a 100,000 people, which is the potential of the current project I’m working on, but not particularly cost effective for smaller numbers.

But then. This sort of data is priceless. Companies need to know how engaged or disgruntled their employees are. The traditional way of finding this out it the Pulse Survey. Most of us have experienced these: HR lugs these out on an annual basis and the maligned manager tries to work out who dunnit. They provide an invaluable snapshot of where a company’s most human of resources actually are at.

So could social media (social business) replace the Pulse Survey and become in effect a rolling pulse survey, an actual beat, much more of a pulse than the traditional one? My thinking on this is not. I think the Pulse Survey provides an important benchmark, some empirical figures and at least in theory, a wide spread of employees.

The ongoing social pulse type of survey would we know be particular in its audience and glean information from only those actively participating in the networks. This we know from the Forrester ladder or Altimeter’s reworking of this (well they did make the 1st ladder but obviously don’t own either the rungs or the struts, just those bits in between them), that only a minority of a network’s members actually tap on the keys and write. The rest just ‘point and click’ as a friend of mine dubs anyone who uses a GUI.

This all said though, an annual survey is as it says on the box a one-off per year event. The data needs analysing and of course it’s HR who make and answer the questions. It is by its nature both limited in scope both as temporal and in data. The work-based social network is ongoing, the beat is that of the employees. They determine both the questions and the answers. And thus, so much more richer in information and of sentiment is the organisation that uses and encourages a global social network. And short of spying (shades of the Deutsche Bahn ‘spying’ scandal), what better way is there of seeing what people think than a healthy and honest social network?

In fact I’d go further and argue that a corporation without one, HR and others, doesn’t really know what all its people thinks. Well ok, once a year do they if they run the Pulse Survey – but what far better way is there for senior management to know what people feel than an active and healthy social business network?

Updated from September.

Employee Engagement = Social Engagement

Polemic number one for 2010. There can be no employee engagement without social engagement. Or put in other words, internal communications cannot continue to successfully engage employees in a modern organisation over a certain size without  social media inside the firewall.

Why so? The basic element is trust. If there the technology that enables dialogue and conversation inside an enterprise and by that I mean genuine 2 way conversation then there is no trust. And without trust there is no engagement.

Why then is there reticence about using social media inside companies from the very people who might be championing it, the internal communications teams? (& see Melcrum for some interesting data on this). Trust, or lack there of. The instinct is to stay with command and control comms, the need is a shift to a more dialogic or polyphonic conversation (for Polyphony see Bakhtin).

There’s a litmus test here. Ask the internal comms team if their middle management are good communicators & can they be relied upon to be ‘on message’. If there’s trust then these boys and girls can be engaged. There rarely is though and the perennial fear is that the message will go off piste. So what is my answer. If the central message is clear and strong enough and actually translates strategy into something that engages with what most people in the business actually do then it will get through. But is there’s not the means to discuss, debate and actually disagree with the Message, then there’s no real engagement. You may have a well informed and aligned workforce, but not an engaged one.

PushmePullYou Comms

And following on from my post on Google’s potential internal comms engine, the question here is push and pull. Users, those consuming information want to have information pushed at them (broadcast) and pulled by them, (selected and chosen).  Those sending information want to broadcast, to propagate their ideas, to propagandise.

The broadcaster wants to know that their message has been delivered, even if to deaf ears. A broadcaster can be happy knowing that the leaflet is disappearing into 10,000 recycling bins. It’s the shout mentality. Send more, speak louder, make more hullaballoo and some will get through.

Of course the problem inside the corporation is that we have a captive audience. That audience doesn’t want to be deluged. They want to be kept informed and to choose. They want this as easliy as possible. They want PushmePullYouComms.

Over-egg a Desktop Notification system, send too many e-mails, even fire up too many RSS feeds and the audience is lost.

So how to achieve the mix, how to create a PushMePullYou Comms structure? Two things are needed I believe. One is an effective internal comms system with a central point of truth that is able to stay independent of PR and HR (both will sway the message). The second is social media. Only if the comms ecosystem can be filtered through a social medium will the balance be made.

Twitter Internal Comms Top 10: NEW!!?

This blog has been a tad quite of late as I’ve been busy building social networks out of raw slabs of php (well OK, out of Elgg and WordPress Multi User + BuddyPress), but it’s now time to kick-start it back into action. And what better way that to relaunch the Twitter Internal Comms Top 10 the 10 people IC professionals should follow on Twitter? It’s probably out of date as interests and focus changes and of course there’s lot more fab IC people on Twitter now compared to 6 months ago or so when I started.

To get it right thtis time, or at least a bit better, I need help, your help. What I’d like feedback on is how to do it… should it be democratic with a poll, Survey Monkey and the like? If so, how, which etc? Or could it be done with raw data – is there a metric I could use to decide and select?

And the big question – who do you think should be in the Top 10 in your judgement? My original criteria was based on interesting to follow, relevant points, known in the field etc., I’ve had some feedback that we need more vim and rigour here – so here’s your chance!

You can let me know either via the blog feedback on on Twitter (and if you want to send in private and I’m not following you, send me a note and I’ll follow you).

What's at play in internal communications?

A couple of weeks or so ago I set up one of those polls in LinkedIn asking what the single most important aim of internal comms was. The chart of the results so far is thus:

internal_comms_chart1

The discussion continued on LinkedIn, with a lively engagement on what the most importan aspect might be. Now of course, this is all a bit phantasmagorical as in real life there’s no single one most important aspect, but the discussion did draw out some interplays between the different aspects.

I tend to agree with Nicky Fried’s comment that:

If we, as communicators, are able to link each employee to the corporate vision – the rest takes care of itself.

but as we see above most people disagree and think engagement is the most important aspect rather than the vision or strategy. There was also an important contribution from Mark Barwick, who argued that I’d made an error by missing out Productivity as the key aim. For Liam FitzPatrick  however, asking what aim might be most important implied conflict or polarities between ‘productivity/strategy/engagement’.

My view on this is that we’re not talking about polarities and certainly not about conflicts, but different spheres of action and influence. I’d still place strategy as the most important aim and align its relationship with engagement and productivity as so:

internal_comms_triangle

But then, as I pointed out to Mark, the strategy might not be productivity, it could be to say, increase market share. The ultimate end, and the ultimate end of all business, would be Profit. We might therefore, replace Producivity with Profit as the driver. Thus all internal communications becomes a drive to profit.

We therefore end up with a chart such as this:

internal_comms_triangle1

This creates a very instrumental, one might almost say brutalist picture of the enterprise. What’s missing is the ethos of the company – it’s brand and its culture. For me at least, the brand is all about internal communications – we’re articulating the brand to our shared internal audience. So what we need to do is bring this branding aspect into the equation:

culture

Taken together these aspects create the enterprise’s culture. One can then begin to imagine who the communications would change as each of these gains ascendancy over the other. Profit must always have the final say – or the business goes out of business. But if profit becomes the only driver, what then for internal communications?

I think this is where Visteon came unstuck. They created a Culture, complete with a well-defined Corporate Social Responsibility and communicated it well enough so that their employees not only knew about it, they both understood it and bought into it. It was when Visteon itself, driven by the profit motivator, forgot that aspect of its culture, that the workers of Visteon decided to occupy their plants.

Ethics and Integrity Policy, Visteon.

What's the aim of Internal Communications?

Over at LinkedIn I recently created one of their polls to elicit some information about what really drives Internal Communications. The LinkedIn poll widget allows one to solicit 5 possible answers to a question.  So throwing caution to the gales I asked “What’s the single most important aim of corporate Internal Communications?”

  • To inform employees
  • To create a shared vision
  • To increase productivity
  • To engage employees
  • To support the strategy

The results so far are as so:

poll

This I found interesting. I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong answer, but my reply would be “To support the strategy“. Why so? Well I think that ultimately this is what focuses internal comms. We have a strategy and we align our comms to it. Engaging employees is/could be a mean to this end. If we engage them for example in directions that aren’t the strategy then we’ve missed our target. At least that’s what I think, your chance to put me right below 😉

Update:

After writing this blog I added a question to the Melcrum discussion page on LinkedIn. A lively discussion ensued. You’ll need to be a member of the Melcrum group to participate.

Prince2 training and Internal Communications

A quiet week on the blog front as on a Prince2 (a UK project management system, similar to the US’s PMP) course all this week with Parity training at Moorgate. Lots of homework to do and there’s so much to cram in. Learning about Project Initiation Documents (PID) and Dr.Qil – Daily, Risk, Quality, Issue and Learning logs (better check my notes to make sure that’s correct).

Interesting to cross-reference to Internal Communications praxis and some of the DMAIC / 6th Sigma courses I’ve been on. Communications and effective ones at that are built into the core product docs such as the PID and by inference internal comms is accepted as part of the business process. I wonder if the reverse is true and how many Prince2 Internal Communicators there are out there?

How Microsoft Surface video to win deals

Using internal comms video to empower and inform a highly mobile and technically savvy workforce is one of the things I’ve spent a lot of career years on, so it was with keen eyes that I watched a Microsoft Surface video on how they’re doing it with cutting-edge surface table technology. The results look funky and efficient. I’d like to know more about how it all fits together. The questions that come to mind are:

How is the information is structured behind the creatives?

What the field sales guys reckon – nice or must have?

Tagging – I like tagging – what’s going on here? There looked like a means of synching up the info across multiple devices inc iPhones. This was the killler app I always wanted to provide our field sales guys with – don’t bombard but synch up so that the devices know when a message has gotton through. This looks like it delivers.

But delivery – is it push or pull, how do they find out about new content, how good is the engine behind it all?

It’s a good job that the presenter is on Twitter so I can now follow @tosolini and learn more…;-)

Scaling the Enterprise Social Network Pyramid

Over at Bertrand Dupperin’s Notepad blog there’s a great article on Enterprise Social Networks, Social networks are the quintessence of enterprise web 2.0. Bertrand looks at how the active users has to manage and interpret the information flows amd how social media tools join up as a final layer, a ‘protean set of tools’:

Social network for enterprises is not a Facebook-like that connect people. It’s a tool that gather in a one and only place all the logics of web 2.0 (blogs,wikis,bookmarking,tagging etc…) and take benefit of this information to re-create all the facets of the link between information and people as explained above.

Reading this got me rootling through old archives looking for a model I made some time back where I try and articulate this in terms of how messages are managed:

pyramid

What I’m trying to get across here is the notion of effective leadership and direction from on high, coupled with an interaction and feedback from a socially networked and actively participating workforce. The more strategic the message, the more structure and governance, the more participatory, the more democratic, organic and ad hoc. I’ve also overlaid this with technologies / applications. Thus the more traditional messaging is structured by the orthodoxy of a managed intranet and scheduled messaging via e-mail or planned TV shows. The more socially generated messaging is powered by social tools such as blogs, Twitter apps and such. There’s also the idea of segmentation and pushed /targeting vs, personalisation and pull. Not sure if the whole sits together – it’s perhaps too much of a changing target to do that, but it’s a model that helps me understand and to play with the potentials and possibilities of enterprise social networks.

12 tips for a successful internal comms video channel

trivet-oskayIn a previous role I was lucky enough to manage an Internal Comms video channel aimed at our field sales force. The channel’s aim was to deliver short video messages that were business-aligned, relevant, timely and targeted. Topics covered in these videocasts included sales updates, product launches, new marketing initiatives and company meetings.

I’d like to share our best practice findings with you. These are all based on practical first-hand experience and I believe, are relevant for any IC video channel, either as push, pull, streamed, video podcast or download. If you have any other tips or correction/qualifiers here, please let me know – I’ve jotted these down as pointers and I’m more than sure that there’s a lot I’ve missed out here! Enjoy…

12 Tips for Internal Comms Video

  1. Before you do anything, decide on the aims and objectives. Ask how the video channel will support your overall comms strategy and as a result the overall business strategy.
  2. Back up the aims and objectives with strong and agreed governance. Get senior buy-in to support it and make sure your stakeholders agree with it. Publish the governance.
    This will ensure the channel maintains focus and does not get used for off-piste aims such as self-promotional egocasts, superficial ends or irrelevant content.
    And remember – the more successful, the more you will need that governance!
  3. Content is king. An informative, entertaining and interesting video from someone with a web cam, will always beat boring studio-quality crap sub-optimum content. Even though content matters most, that’s still no excuse for not doing your best. Produce to the highest quality you can, with the time and money available. Always avoid basic Nobo mistakes such as presenters in patterned shirts and ties, clutter in the background, noisy interference or filming in front of a window.
  4. Don’t use video for the sake of it. Always ask ‘why use video?‘ and whether your aim will be be met with other formats. This can save time, money and ensure that the video channel maintains quality plus it keeps to the stated aims.
  5. Make all content relevant. No one will click on a video and watch it unless there’s something important in it that they will gain from. It doesn’t matter how well it’s filmed, scripted or delivered, if it hasn’t got relevant content it won’t get watched. Always put your audience needs first.
  6. The close cousin of relevancy is the target audience. When you tell people the video is available, use targeted messaging or pull technology such as RSS. Don’t spam. Even if you think the content is great and relevant to everyone they might not agree. The more that you spam them, the more likely they are to avoid your video in future. I’ll say it again, always put your audience needs first.
  7. It may be fahionable to be late but your audience wants punctuality. Decide on the frequency and make sure content is up to date. Don’t send out too many videos – your audience are at work and haven’t got the time. Decide on a max frequency for sending videos out and stick to it. If you must have lots of videos, consider storing them in a YouTube type site and send out a regular compendium update.
    Don’t be late – if it’s time-sensitive info and going to take 3 weeks to make and send the video out, the chances are that it’s going to be out of date by the time your audience see it. Bearing in mind that you might just might miss a deadline, avoid the presenter mentioning dates whenever you can and never ever have them saying ‘next Tuesday’. The chances are it will be watched by X% on the Wednesday after.
  8. Make it short. All the evidence says that online attention span is short, especially for video.If people get bored they will switch off. We found that 3 minutes was best with 4 minutes the max for sales-update video messages. If you’ve a longer event say a video of a company meeting, break it up into bite-sized chunks.
    nb This does not apply to training videos for Systems Engineers who will happily watch one of their colleagues talking about something technical for an hour or more.
  9. Script it/structure it. Even if the video is informal and very short, have a script if at all possible. A speaker may be very good delivering live ad hoc talks, but that isn’t necessarily going to work on an online video. Also, some presenters are more interested in themselves than either the content or their audience. Scripts will keep both the presenter and your video relevant and focused on your stated aims and objectives.
  10. Make it easy – make it linky. If you’ve done a good job and sent a timely, interesting and relevant message to your audience, they will want more. They will either want to learn more, or to do something with the info you’ve given them. Add tangible pointers to next steps – links to sites, documents and to you. Always provide easy feedback links!
  11. Measure it. See how many people watched the video. Ask people what they thought of the channel overall and for each video message. Ask them via feedback rating stars, online polls or simply by asking them. Look at what works and what doesn’t. Look at what your audience decides to watch rather than what you send them.
    Compare all data with the overall aims. Don’t do this once, but look at what’s been achieved on a regular basis.
  12. Use your data and audience feedback to experiment and improve the channel. Keep it fresh and don’t rest on your laurels. Try new approaches and ways of delivering it. But whatever you do, always make sure the camera is on and is recording. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen and senior vice presidents do not think it’s funny!