Tag Archives: internal comms blog

Guest blog: the importance of understanding the user

I’ve stopped attending internal communications or employee engagement events.

I actually stopped a few years ago.

To me, the content always seemed to be the same.

And the questions posed were identical to when I first found myself in internal communications, nearly a decade ago, and the case studies seemed to be a tad dull.

Almost everything seemed to be on a loop and marginal success seemed to be over celebrated.

Around this time, I started working with some of the UK’s leading digital thinkers and quickly found myself emerged in ways of thinking that were totally alien to me as an ‘expert’ in internal digital communications.

Their user-centric approach to building products with a focus purely on delighting the user was a substantial shift from merely keeping stakeholders holders happy with little true knowledge of the project.

It was joy to work with the actual end users of the products and engage with stakeholders using data and research to drive decisions rather than mere opinion.

This approach led to the creation of some of the best digital projects out there, according to the IoIC.

And these all began with a sole focus on the end user at the formative stages.

They did not have a project manager.

Instead, they had a product manager running the show, supported by a handful of business analysts – something I have not seen too much of in the IC industry.

There is method in the madness. At the messy start of each project, we set out to discover what type of product should be built or what type of channel should be developed.

The amount of interviews and sessions with users is mind-boggling compared to the early days of delivering internal channels.

There is a landscape designer in the US who lives with her clients for nine months before she designs the landscape.

Yes, you’ve read that correctly.

I’m not suggesting taking nine months to understand your audience but a deep sense of understanding is essential before even thinking about the product.

This experience changed the way I approach IC.

Nowadays I always start with deep dive into Persons (and non-personas) and the Employee Journey: the two underlying pillars that enable the building blocks of employee experience.

This is followed by several sessions called Assumption Consumption, which takes all of the assumption towards an audience, a channel or a product and rips apart them if the evidence is there.

This takes away the painful conversations that may come in the design/build phases of a product.

I don’t go into the complete methodology here, but wanted to use this opportunity to nudge you not to ‘lean in’.

Turn around. Take a moment.

Spend time taking a long look at what is happening outside the world of IC.

Kevin McDougall

It may just help you create the some of the best products and services you can.

** Kevin McDougall is an Employee Experience Consultant helping businesses understand its people’s needs and requirements.

Kevin has worked with the BBC, Unilever, Transport for London and Hiscox Insurance.

The psychology of workplace change

Stephanie Davies, Laughology Founder and CEO, takes the hot seat, blogging about the psychology of change at work.

Change is a word that can cause all kinds of emotional responses. Some people view change as negative, while others see it as positive. But now, even the way change happens is changing, which means there’s a lot to get our heads around.

These days, many modern businesses treat change as a continuum, rather than a finite process. The fast pace of the world means that many organisations position transformation as continuous improvement, especially those that are constantly evolving to stay ahead of the game and future-proof themselves.

Ways of working, lifestyles and services are developing all the time, forcing organisations to evolve with them. For example, office spaces and set working hours will be a thing of the past before we know it and communicating at work will be more about social media platforms and instant messaging.

We will all need to become learning ninjas, constantly updating our skills to match new systems and beat the competition.

By helping employees to grasp this concept and improving their resilience, adaptive thinking, flexibility and growth mindset, you can ensure they are future fit. Businesses need people who can think and adapt quickly and effortlessly and who will and feel positive about doing so.

As Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

At Laughology we would advise you to:

1. Support your workforce in becoming future fit.
– Be clear about why continuous development is important – what does it mean for the organisation, why is it important for the business and how will it help in future?
– Share ideas, inspire with vision and engage people with their own development
– Lead the way. You should make sure managers have the knowledge, people skills and coaching skills to successfully evolve their teams
– Create the right culture. A culture of continual learning and trust built through honest positive, open communication will impact how people adapt to new ideas
– Help employees to understand where you are now and what needs to happen to get you to the next stage; this will make change easier to stomach. Small, manageable and well-communicated steps
will help people feel more in control and happy about development.

2. Become a growth mindset business.
Organisations that welcome new ideas and experience are the best performers. Too often, businesses can stifle experimentation due to fear of failure and because it’s easier to stay in their comfort zone. But it’s a changing world. Invite new ideas and ensure that resources and encouragement are available for your people to continuously learn and develop.

3. Pause, assess and celebrate.
Encouraging your team to take a deep dive into the process behind its own successes and failures will maximise learning and improve performance by instigating employee-driven change . We work in such fast-paced environments that it’s easy to finish one project and move straight onto the next without pausing to ask what worked well and what could be done differently next time.

4. Reinforce growth mindset practices through communications.
To have a true growth mindset, an organisation needs to constantly highlight and reinforce growth mindset practices. Try encouraging your people to share their favourite recent examples of their growth mindset with their teams, and share growth mindset success stories through your channels at every opportunity, across the whole organisation.

How to source stories in your organisation

Stories are incredibly powerful tools. They influence, inspire and move people. They can change behaviour and get people thinking.

But, in an organisation, sourcing stories is sometimes easier said than done – especially when the sources you’re relying on don’t really know what makes a story.

There are a few steps you can take to help you track down the best stories in your organisation.

Build solid relationships
As an internal communicator, you need to build strong relationships at every level of your organisation. From the cleaner or the graduate, to the senior manager or the CEO, you need to make it your business to get to know the business – and the people within it. By making friends in every department, you’ll always have a steady stream of information and tip-offs about what’s going on.

If there are any events going on in your business – from a huge conference to a tiny bake sale – an internal communicator should pop along. By having everyday conversations with as many people as possible, stories worth sharing are bound to crop up.

Engage line managers
When it comes to sharing stories of brilliant colleagues, it’s unlikely that anyone will get in touch with the IC department to share a story about something great they’ve done. Their line manager is far more likely to contact an internal communicator to lavish some praise – so make sure you get them on board.

Leadership stories
CEOs and senior leaders often have a lot to say – but their messages can be dry, business-focused and top-down. Consider another way: humanise your leadership team and present them as individuals. Encourage them to be open and share information about the person behind the suit, such as the time they climbed a mountain, how they are embracing the company values in everyday life, or the story of how they got to where they are.

Be nosy – scout social channels and notice boards
ESNs can be a great way of sourcing stories. You might feel a bit nosy scouting through online conversations, but it can be a source of gold when it comes to finding interesting tales worth sharing. The same goes for noticeboards; keep your eyes peeled and you could find a gem.

Identify champions
Setting up a network of champions can be a productive way of sourcing stories. Identify story champions at each site or in each department and ask them to keep their ear to the ground and to let you know if they hear of anything interesting going on in their area.

Bring dry content to life
You’ll lose count of the number of times you’re given reams of facts and piles of reports that need sharing with the workforce. Instead of churning out another corporate message, consider turning the information into a story. Look for a colleague who can tell the story from the bottom up and who can offer a fresh, real perspective that makes it worth reading. Alternatively, turn the facts into an infographic that colleagues will want to share on your ESN.

Keep an eye on the news
National news stories about your industry or company can be a good source of inspiration for internal communicators. You might just like to share a story that colleagues might find interesting, or you could gather a series of views on a hot topic and share the vox pops around the business. Just remember – with this kind of story, timing is everything, so act quickly before it’s old news.

How IC can help you find and hire the best employees

Paul Peters from applicant tracking system Betterteam blogs on how a company’s current employees can be an untapped source of excellent job candidates.

We’re living in one of the toughest hiring climates of all time.

It’s taking a record 29 days to find employees and more job openings are going unfilled than ever before.

But what many companies are failing to realise is that current employees are an untapped source; they can identify the very best candidates for your business.

They can help you reach ‘passive’ candidates who are not yet on the market or who aren’t actively looking for jobs – and who make up about 75 per cent of your potential pool.

Leveraging employees can also give you inside information that helps you find and attract better candidates on LinkedIn and job boards, especially for competitive roles.

How to handle referrals

This is the most obvious, tried and tested way of leveraging current employees to attract new ones.

Many companies reward successful referrals, which may be expected in some industries. For me, this puts the emphasis in the wrong place.

You want employees recommending people not because of a bonus, but because they really want to work with those they’re recommending.

Working with great people improves everyone’s day and makes the company more profitable. In turn, people ideally get paid more, receive more promotions and have more job security.

That said, recognition doesn’t cost a thing and can go a long way towards making an employee happy. If a referral is successful, be sure to thank the referring employee when you announce the new hire.

How should you approach asking for referrals?

At an education startup I once ran, we found many of our best employees by putting out a message via email or Slack, informing employees that we were hiring and which positions we were hiring for.

We would generally ask: Where can we find the best person to do this job? Or: Do you know someone you would love to work with?

I’d also recommend sending employees some pre-written copy that they can post to social media to help put the word out. This is an effective way to reach passive candidates.

If you’re hiring engineers, for example, engineers at your company are likely to have contacts from their past or on social. Even if they aren’t seeking employment, they may see your employee’s post and get in touch.

Leverage employees to win at LinkedIn recruiting

This is a bit more proactive than asking for referrals and a great tactic in tough hiring times.

Talk to your very best hires and ask them about the best teams they’ve ever worked in, and where and when it was. It’s likely that their experience links to a high point at the company they worked for.

Through LinkedIn’s advanced search tool, you’ll be able to find out who else worked there at that time.

Ask your current employees to introduce you to anyone who looks like they might be a good fit. Talk to them about why the potential candidate might like the position and use that when you make contact.

How your employees can help you write killer job postings

If there’s any risk to getting help from your employees with recruiting, it’s becoming too dependent on it.

By failing to post your job elsewhere, you may not reach a diverse enough audience and could miss out on potentially great hires.

But yet again, your current employees can help you succeed, by influencing your job board postings.

Nearly all job postings are the same; they read like a bullet pointed list of demands by the employer. This gives you a terrific opportunity to set yourself apart.

Forget writing out all the possible qualifications and requirements for a job – keep them to a minimum.

Instead, ask current employees what it is about the job, the workplace, their fellow employees and the location of your business that would make someone want to work there. That’s what to include in your job posting.

Potential applicants are like customers you’re trying sell to. A little effort into this part of the recruiting process will reap big rewards.

At Betterteam, we’ve helped several clients rewrite their job postings this way.

After taking this approach to an endodontist position that hadn’t received an applicant in months, the company received two well-qualified applicants within three days, and hired a great employee a short time later.

Don’t let this tough hiring climate hold you back! Improve communication with your employees and let them show you the way to making your next great hire.

Infographic: how publications make a business more profitable

It’s easy to spend so much time and energy on creating a snazzy internal publication that you forget all about it once it hits the stands.

But what about all the wonderful things it goes on to achieve? Headlines details your publication’s journey post-print.

Your publication hits the stands. It’s taken blood, sweat and tears, but it’s worth it. Employees pick it up – and it starts fulfilling its destiny.

Publication's post-print journey

Informed employees
This is your publication’s key role. Keeping people up to date will mean they understand your organisation better.

Company vision shared
By aligning employees with your company’s vision and goals, they help accomplish them.

Two-way conversation
Publications drive conversation. When used as part of a mix of channels, employees tend to take the conversation to more social channels.

Values embedded
Aligning employees with your company values helps change behaviour and encourages adoption of them.

Sense of belonging fostered
A sense of community leads to a team mentality – and excellent partnership working between teams and employees.

Best practice shared
Sharing the excellent work of employees encourages more of the same and lets them feel acknowledged and valued.

People celebrated
Recognising the good work of employees in an employee publication for all to see outweighs financial reward for many people. Consider it the ultimate, morale-boosting pat on the back!

Pride instilled
By sharing the great things happening in your business (alongside coverage of any business issues which should be tackled), employees will feel proud to work at your organisation.

Engagement: The holy grail
Engaged employees are enthusiastic and absorbed in their role and company. The ultimate engaged employee is one who is engaged with their organisation – not just their job.

Engaged employees feel good about coming to work, enjoy what they do and respect the organisation they work for. They’re productive and will help further your company’s interests and reputation – improving your bottom line.

Engaged employees are more likely to get involved. They’ll share stories with you, talk to you – and feed your publication.

Download our great employee publications infographic here….

Did you know?
• Highly engaged employees are 50 per cent more likely to exceed targets*
• Companies with high engagement experience report on average 37 per cent less absenteeism and employee turnover**
• An increase of 0.1 per cent in employee engagement can add $100,000 in annual operating income to your bottom line**

References: *Hay Group **Gallup, 2010