This blog is about the relationship between organizations and the people who work for them. And, it’s dedicated to the millions of people around the world who go to work every day wanting to do a great job.
Archive for April, 2011
On a recent trip to Vermont Michael and I were listening to the Vermont Public Radio president on a town hall with their listeners.¬† And I noticed something.¬† It just didn‚Äôt work.¬† The president listened and chatted with those that called in.¬† The conversation seemed more like ‚Äėshe says‚Äô/‚Äôhe says‚Äô than a real conversation.¬† And, at the end of the show the president closed nicely and I realized she hadn‚Äôt specifically responded with an action to a single listener‚Äôs feedback.
It seemed a far cry from Obama‚Äôs town halls. Or what I’ve heard from my friends who live in Vermont, a state that may have invented the town hall, about the meetings that their very small town, Newfane, runs regularly to discuss all matter of issues and opportunities facing the community.¬† Or my recent experience attending a town hall for a ¬†‚Äúprogramme particulier d’urbanisme‚ÄĚ that has the potential to change the face of downtown Montreal.¬† These are lively discussions.¬† Both the politicians and the electorate care about the issues being discussed.¬† And at their best there‚Äôs clear action to be taken at the end.
And yet, the Vermont Public Radio town hall seems a familiar scenario for those of us doing internal communications.¬† So what‚Äôs going on?
Employee town halls after all are supposed to humanize organizations.¬† They create one of the few opportunities for interaction and discussion between our executives, managers and employees.¬† ¬†So, why don‚Äôt they generate meaningful discussion?¬† Why aren‚Äôt they more lively? ¬†Gosh why don‚Äôt we even get questions, unless we plant them [manipulation ‚Äď for another blog] more than half the time?¬† Why does it seem more like a shareholder meeting rather than a scrum?
Here are some thoughts:
|Political town halls||Employee town halls|
|It‚Äôs a democracy||It‚Äôs not a democracy|
|Audience has the power||Speaker has the power|
|Politicians to listen and defend their position||Executives to talk and assert their position|
|There‚Äôs something to discuss that people care and want to discuss||There may or may not be anything to discuss and employees are ‚Äėmandated‚Äô to participate|
|There‚Äôs an opportunity to influence decisions||Little or no real opportunity to influence; ¬†decisions have already been taken or|
Given these differences, what can we learn? ¬†Can we re-frame the Corporate town hall to achieve our goals of humanizing, engaging and creating meaningful conversations that further the business? ¬†Love to hear what you think.
Human resource departments talk a lot about the employer brand; the ultimate reflection of the employee experience of the brand. ¬†And given the growing challenge of getting the best people, it‚Äôs something that all business leaders are beginning to worry about.
So, imagine my surprise to read that ‚Äúnearly 30 percent of executives surveyed by search firm Korn/Ferry International said job applicants aren‚Äôt being treated respectfully by potential employers‚ÄĚ! ¬†These executives report the following experiences:
- No confirmation that their application arrived
- Interviews that turn out to have been set up for other candidates
- Interviews that have been set up for the wrong job
- Interviewers who are under prepared
- No follow-up after interviews
- No answers to e-mails or phone messages
- A big black hole.
This isn‚Äôt any old recruitment.¬† This is executive recruitment.¬† Presumably people who have more money and influence than most.¬† Makes you pretty sure that it‚Äôs a lot worse for your average job seeker.
We know bad news travels faster than good news.¬† We know the value of the brand experience as an employee or as a customer.¬† It‚Äôs pure gold.¬† And the erosion of the brand experience a business killer.¬† So, how could we be going so wrong in what seems like such a simple matter ‚Äď basic courtesy?
Could it be because of overworked employees?¬† Sucky values?¬† Bad training?¬† Too many files?¬† Too few hours?¬† Not the right tools to do the job?¬† Or all of the above?
I don‚Äôt know, but as communicators we‚Äôre all about helping our organizations [and their employees] build strong positive relationships with all our stakeholders, so I think it‚Äôs something worth looking into and taking action on. ¬†The employer brand starts here.