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.
- Partners would inform each other immediately – face-to-face or by text or by email – of the outcome.
- Employees directly involved on the pitch, in the office and in other offices, would also be informed as quickly as possible and ideally in a face-to-face meeting [conference call or Skype if necessary because of the schedules of the partners] with a chance for them to learn the outcome and discuss the implications for the team. ¬†This meeting would be relatively short.
- Other employees – depending on the size and nature of the news and it’s implications – would either receive an e-mail [while the pitch team was in their meeting] inviting them to a small group meeting with their partner, or to gather with the pitch team for a celebration or mourning
- Peers and colleagues outside the office would be informed as appropriate after that
- The partners and pitch team would create opportunities for debriefing and learning within the days following the news.
People and relationships are at the core of all organizational strategies.
This means an adequately thorough and complete stakeholder analysis is key. If the stakeholder analysis is weak then so too is the strategy. And stakeholder analysis starts with adequate segmentation.
Segmentation doesn‚Äôt start with a list of generic stakeholders. It starts with a deep understanding of who will be impacted by what you are planning, saying, doing?¬† And how they will be impacted.
Seems so obvious, and yet it‚Äôs not.¬† In the past few weeks I was asked to pull together work of several other consultants to create an integrated strategic framework that would help identify gaps and overlaps in the work and thinking that had been done so far.
Communication was just one of 6 strategic priorities but every other priority had a significant communication component. Three consultants had already prepared three separate plans – media relations, government relations and fund development.
Each plan referred to their own key stakeholder, but not one of them adequately developed the segmentation. Instead, they were almost generic.
It‚Äôs a government relations plan so the target is government. No differentiation between Federal, provincial though both could impact the outcomes for this organization. No reference to which specific ministries. No differentiation between elected and non-elected politicians, or bureaucrats [senior and junior]. Even though each of these segments would have different and important impact on the work of this organization.
None of the plans did any more than a superficial analysis of this already thin segmentation. Instead of really thinking about what the client organization was trying to achieve in relationship to each of the segmented stakeholders, again, plans fell back into generic descriptions and no real analysis.
Even cutting an orange into segments takes some thought and skill…
And, the sad thing is, this failure to segment stakeholders and do some pretty fundamental analysis is not unusual.
The result. Bland planning and a focus on tools and tactics.
No strategy at all.
If you want to be strategic, then developing mastery in the art of segmentation is a good place to start.
So, what’s a good question? ¬†Today I’m going to share with you what I think is not just a good question it may be the best question: ¬†”Why?”
Yes the question is: “Why?” ¬†And if you’re asking me “Why?” Here’s why.
The answer to the question “Why?” will get to motivation. ¬†And motivation in leadership and communication is everything. By asking “Why?” until you get to the motivation you will find that the answer is either to:
- Make something go away? Problem-solve.
- Bring something into being? Create.
Problem-solving and creating are fundamentally different. ¬†They have different energy. ¬†Creating will always allow you to build momentum toward the thing you’re creating. ¬†Problem-solving will not.
“Why?” you ask. Well that’s a very good question…. ¬†For leaders and communicators knowing the difference is fundamental.
Have you ever asked yourself what a great communicator looks like in your organization?
Are there any? ¬†If so,
- Why are they great?
- What characteristics do they have?
- What impact do they have?
- What can you learn from them? ¬†What can the rest of the organization learn from them?
If not, why not? And what can you do about it.
Great communicators may just happen, but the ones I know are very disciplined about their communication. ¬†It’s not something they pull out at the last minute – “Oh now I guess I better speak to my folks!” It’s something that is absolutely build into everything they do and how they do it.
What is your organization doing to build communication mastery? I’d love to talk.
I was walking through the McGill University campus the other day and noticed a poster that described the invention of the Kellogg cornflake. It reminded me ¬†again of how chance has led to some of the most innovative creations of the past century: vulcanized rubber [think tires], Post-it notes, Teflon, mauve [yes, and a must read on this], the x-ray, superglue, stainless steel, and microwave ovens [for more].¬†But, there’s more than happenstance and chance or even serendipity, to these breakthrough events. There was the ‘accident’ and then there was insight.
Virtually every organization I know is trying to find ways to encourage and capitalize on innovation. Big and small, customer or operationally-focused innovation is the new ‘silver bullet’; a “key growth lever”.
Well, they’re benchmarking. ¬†They’re designing new workspaces to support innovation – atriums and agoras, open offices, whiteboard walls and basketball hoops. Mimicking the Google and Apple campuses in the hope that they will inspire new ways of thinking. They’re giving employees access to more and more collaborative tools and creating opportunities through internal innovation challenges.
But most of these same organizations – whether they are white collar knowledge workers or blue collar labourers – are designed to produce widgets.¬†It’s the nature of the work and the day-to-day deliverables.¬†The design of the overall business operation is more like a production line in a sausage factory than a research and development team in a laboratory.
Are we just “putting lipstick on a pig”? Or are these changes – especially in older traditional businesses – really delivering the promise?
In the week since it was first announced, Yahoo!’s policy stopping remote work has created a firestorm focused on the policy and its implications for worker flexibility in general and the tech industry in particular.
So now, for something completely different, I think it’s time to take a closer look at what we can learn from the announcement itself. Here are my top 3 lessons:
#3. The headline matters.¬†¬†”YAHOO! PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION ‚ÄĒ DO NOT FORWARD”. Whatever happened to a subject line so that you know what the memo is about? Instead, here the title is: “Confidential”? Yeah maybe. “Proprietary”. Well isn’t everything that’s done on behalf of the company? “Do not forward.”¬†Anyone who’s worked inside any organization knows this is a redflag to a bull. These legal ‘requirements’ make our institutional leaders less credible with every memo. They are virtually impossible to enforce and the consequences even if they could be are just not that clear.
Mistake #2. Don’t manipulate.¬†The message itself was¬†drafted using the “sandwich method”. You’ve all seen it before. Upbeat good news. Followed by the downbeat less good news. Followed by a little more upbeat good news. It assumes that people won’t be able to handle the news without softening the blow. It’s manipulative and everybody knows it. Manipulation kills relationship.
Now for the biggie…
Mistake #1. Make sure you know who your message is really for. ¬†“Beginning in June, we‚Äôre asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices.” This message isn’t relevant to most employees. ¬†In fact, with over¬†14,000 employees, it turns out there are¬†about 200 remote workers who will be directly affected.
That leaves 13,800 who received the memo and aren’t directly affected. ¬†Of those,¬†there’s a % who are already coming to work every day.¬†This message is completely irrelevant to them except perhaps to make them feel a little smug or proud.
The rest, and there are by all accounts many at Yahoo!, who have taken advantage of the flexible working conditions by staying home for the “cable guy” too often need to know that their behaviour is no longer acceptable. This is a performance management issue. ¬†And, it’s management who, for whatever reason, have not been held accountable. The focus for the communication, once you get beyond the 200 remote workers is management. And making sure they know they are responsible and accountable for their employees being onsite to work and giving them what they need – training, mentoring, support – to be successful.
Their memo, directed at 14,000 employees left virtually all of them wondering what it means for them and speculating with each other, their families, their friends and media online and off.
Now that’s a lesson we can all learn from.
There’s a lot of interest, OK hype, around Google Glass. Let’s face it, the futuristic glasses are pretty cool looking just as a fashion accessory, but add in all the power of a smart phone and well it’s a pretty compelling offer.
Here are some of the features in the current prototypes:
- Responds to voice commands
- Answers questions [since it syncs through the net it means you can search the net - it's a Google product after all]
- Has GPS
- Takes and shares¬†photographs and¬†live video
- Sends and receives text messages and emails
- Provides digital voice assistance that is customized to your personal habits [e.g. weather, traffic]
All this in a range of fashion colours!
At least one of ¬†my luckier, dare I say it geekier, friends [Mitch Joel] has already had a chance to try the Glass. ¬†His take: ¬†”I think this will blow people away.” ¬†I’m pretty sure we can expect that¬†by the end of 2013 we’ll start seeing the Glass on others if we’re not lucky enough to have one ourselves.
So, here’s my question:¬†What impact will Google Glass have on the workplace? ¬†You know it will, so it’s definitely not too soon to start thinking about the potential and planning for the future!
I’ve been struck in the past few weeks by the number of times I see communications go wrong because of one thing. Little or no thought was¬†given to the “audience” for the communication. No one is asking:
- if or how the ‘news’, information, change will impact them;
- what they need or want to know from their point of view;
- how they might feel about it; and
- what they might do with it, or, even
- what the communicator wants them to do with it.
It’s as if communicators are on automatic pilot. ¬†No human empathy or understanding at all.
Unfortunately, internal communicators are especially guilty. ¬†After all of the executive inputs, edits and reviews it’s very easy not to remember who you’re trying to reach.
“All employees” is often the answer. ¬†But not all employees are created equal when you’re doing internal communication. ¬†Some will be affected directly by the thing you’re communicating, some indirectly and some not at all.
Understanding these differences and framing the communication based on impact is one way of increasing meaning. ¬†And, today it’s something we don’t do very well. ¬†It’s got to be the #1 failure of internal communicators. What do you think?
According to “Engage for success“, a government initiative designed to increase employee engagement across the UK, ¬†there are¬†four enablers of employee engagement:
- Visible, empowering leadership providing a¬†strong strategic narrative¬†about the organisation, where it‚Äôs come from and where it‚Äôs going.
- Engaging managers¬†who focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and stretch their people
- There is¬†employee voice¬†throughout the organisation, for reinforcing and challenging views, between functions and externally, employees are seen as central to the solution.
- There is organisational¬†integrity -¬†the values on the wall are reflected in day to day behaviours. There is no ‚Äėsay ‚Äďdo‚Äô gap
Each of the four enablers is, at its core, a question of communication:¬†The ability of leaders, managers and employees to communicate in a way that involves.¬†
The UK figures they’re losing¬†¬£25.8bn¬†[that would be¬†$40.25 billion!]¬†in GDP annually. ¬†Why? ¬†Employee engagement. Or rather the lack of engaged employees. Now if that doesn’t wake business and government up I don’t know what will.
Employees want to go to work to do a good job. ¬†They want their work to matter. They want to feel involved. ¬†They aren’t. Or they aren’t enough.¬†Shouldn’t encouraging and building the capacity to communicate be a priority? If not, why isn’t it?