Register  |   Contact Us  | 

Posts from November 2010

Harness the Power of EmPOWERment

Posted on  30 November 10  by 

Comment (1)

Q: How can you get your employees to do the things you want them to do?

A: Trick question. You can’t.

Q: How can you be sure your employees will do what’s best for your customers?

A: Trick answer. Most employees are told to do what’s right for the company.

At CEC this past month, we’ve been asking ourselves:  What makes some companies more successful than others during times of extreme change and uncertainty (like, for example, present day)?  In other words, what are the attributes of “an adaptive organization?”

Here’s one hypothesis:  Adaptive organizations believe strongly in empowerment – i.e., encouraging ownership of  decision-making at all levels and supporting a culture of action.

Ironically, while companies can’t always get people to do what’s best, they can let them.  See the difference? Read More »

Best Buy’s Employee Listening System

Click to watch the video from Best Buy

By Kirsten Robinson

Companies recognize that they live and die by the extent to which they understand their customers’ wants and needs. But are they tuned-in to what their own employees are thinking?

Think about it…most communicators have a general sense of what matters to employees based on the organization’s annual engagement survey or informal pulse surveys.  But, do you, as a communicator, know what’s on your employees’ minds right now?  Do you know how they are reacting to a company decision or change?

Best Buy’s internal communicators came to the humble realization that they weren’t experts on their own employees.  When they realized this, they decided to learn more and created a solution off the strategy the company used to gain knowledge about their customers.  They developed an employee listening system, which uses open communication to uncover the unmet needs of workers.  The end result is a deeper understanding of employees, which has allowed the company to correct (previously unknown) problems and make communication more effective.  It has also allowed them to improve their understanding of business partners, which in turn opened up possibilities for new opportunities with internal clients. Read More »

Communications Dashboards 2.0

Posted on  22 November 10  by 


With only 31% of communicators having a formal dashboard, many of you are reading this blog title and probably saying, “Woah, let’s start at Dashboards 1.0.  We’re just beginning to invest more in measurement.”  While we at the CEC are happy to help guide you through the building blocks of how to create (even a 1.0) dashboard…your senior leadership team likely isn’t going to hold your hand in the same way.

End of year reviews are quickly approaching for many of us, and your CEO will be asking, “Did your work this year matter to the business?” And you, communicator, are looking for the easiest way to say, “Yes! Let me show you why…”  Yet so often the communications metrics that we show to demonstrate the strategic impact of the function are things like: click/attendance rates, number of media hits, followers, etc.  While these can be impressive in their magnitude, they just don’t carry the weight we’d like them to.

Essentially, communicators often begin with transactional metrics and attempt (unconvincingly) to make a leap to translate those metrics into business outcomes.  See below:

Read More »

Corporate Social Responsibility is NOT a Goal in Itself

Let me begin by making a confession: as a rookie to the world of corporate communications, I was at first surprised to hear the emphasis on corporate social responsibility . But as I have put my CSR hat on, aside from the headspin with all the buzzwords (CSR? Social Responsibility? Sustainability? Philanthropy? Corporate Citizenship?… Gaah!), one interesting finding has emerged from conversations on the subject with executives around the world:

Communicators have for long focused on CSR rankings and reporting as the finish line, aiming to be portrayed as good corporate citizens, but they are losing the connection of CSR efforts to company performance.

Read More »

Let’s Talk Tech: IBM’s “Employee Eminence” Concept

By Mike Wellman

I don’t know if it’s my geeky family heritage, the thrill of growing up in the internet boom, or a personal appreciation of Silicon Valley’s aesthetic appeal and entrepreneurial spirit, but I’ve always enjoyed speaking with communications executives in the Tech space.  There’s something magical about those organizations that are working on the front lines to make the bolder, better future possible, which is perhaps one reason that the World’s Fair exhibit “Futurama” is still so captivating.  (Check out Futurama on YouTube for a blast from the past!)

I was recently pointed to the transcript of a keynote speech delivered by IBM Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Jon Iwata.  In that speech, he painted a vision of a “Futurama” of sorts for the Communications function and highlighted what he believed to be three emerging qualities of successful communications departments: Read More »

Redefine Communications’ Role in CSR

On Wednesday, 1st December, CEC will host the first in a three-part webinar series.  During the series we’ll highlight some of the most progressive thinking we’ve found around Corporate Social Responsibility.  For the first event, we’ll focus on innovative approaches to CSR strategy and the resultant challenges facing communicators.  CEC members, sign up today.

Traditionally, demanding stakeholder groups have forced organizations to adopt CSR activities.  As such, CSR has grown up  “separate from profit maximization”; and therefore, viewed only as corollary to the business.  The best companies we’ve seen in CEC are shifting to a new role–helping  the organization spot and create opportunities for business growth that simultaneously benefit society.  This is called “Creating Shared Value.”

Two genuine pioneers in the CSR field will join us for this event to share their experiences and answer your questions.

Read More »

Driving Virtual Engagement with Leadership

By Kirsten Robinson

Are leaders in your organization constantly on the road? Is your organization geographically dispersed? We all recognize it’s important for employees to feel a connection with their leaders, but many executives struggle to make their presence felt where they can’t be in person.

We recently received a question on our Employee Communications Forum from an executive eager to hear about how other CEC members drive virtual engagement with leadership. Most organizations are using the Internet and other visual media to bridge the gap — here are a few of the takeaways from the thread:

  • Get “face time” in real-time. Employees can get virtual face-to-face contact using a video chat program.  One member suggests Live Meeting, which hosts web conferencing in real-time meetings, training sessions and events.
  • Communicate through video. Seeing an executive deliver their message (even recorded) can provide employees with a more personal sense of who’s addressing them. One member creates DVDs, noting that they’re often more effective than having employees read an email, or listen in on a conference call. Read More »

Ambassadors: Power of Passionate Employees

Posted on  11 November 10  by 

Comment (2)

What if you overheard a story around the water cooler?  And instead of the typical office gossip, your colleagues were discussing good news. And you reacted: “wow, this message is spreading like fire among employees (and outside the organization) and that was exactly our goal”?

Research shows that engaged employees are more productive, exhibit less absenteeism and are more likely to stay at their company longer. So how can you capture the power of a passionate group?  The Allstate Insurance Company has proven that engaging them as Ambassadors can drive positive business results.

Allstate’s exclusive, in-the-know employee group has been designed from the bottom-up with the goal of expanding the company’s network of advocates to promote its brand and reputation.

CEC members, join us and Laura Glaza, member of the Reputation Leadership team from Allstate, on November 18th to hear how they’ve designed the program and how the movement has created ambassadors who are excited about speaking on behalf of the company. We guarantee that this is not your standard “corporate” ambassador program. Register here.

For a sneak peak into how the program works, read on.

Read More »

You Cannot Please the World: A Tough Pill to Swallow for Pharma

Posted on  10 November 10  by 



Pill Head by Bryan Christie

Dear Communicators at Pharmaceutical Companies,

You are sitting on a gold mine of passive supporters.

Doctors, nurses, satisfied patients, professors, proud employees, communities that benefit from your social investments—you’ve got people who not only like your company, but rely on it to maintain their quality of life. What other industry can boast such a thing?

Your passive supporters are quiet, and that’s not helping you.

No matter how proud, happy, or grateful these stakeholders are, most aren’t saying anything about it. In fact, CEC research tells us that only 11% of favorable stakeholders are active (i.e., spreading the good word on your behalf). The remaining 89% are passive – favorable, yes, vocal, no. These passive supporters represent a real opportunity.

You can convert a passive supporter to an active one through an emotional connection to the company.

Fortunately, you can boost the ranks of your active supporters by creating opportunities for stakeholders to discover an emotional connection to your company. An emotional connection is indicated by

  • a sense of shared values,
  • a feeling of ownership for the company; and,
  • a feeling of investment in the company.

Think about your current communications activities and messages. Are you providing opportunities for stakeholders to feel connected? Or are you just listing the benefits of your drug? I particularly like how Johnson and Johnson and GSK have created blogs that don’t even talk about their products. Instead the blogs are a place for stakeholders to follow or serendipitously stumble upon to read uplifting stories and informative pieces on health care and wellbeing generally.

You don’t need to fret over your company’s detractors.

Read More »

3 Tactics to Engage Top Communications Talent

By Mike Wellman

“We were in a strategy session, and we landed on this idea that we [Corporate Communications] are experts on our employees, and as soon as someone said it, we realized that we really aren’t experts on our employees…  It was kind of a wake-up call.”  -Mike Voss, Best Buy Senior Director of Employee Communications

This quote, which actually comes from a video our team shot at Best Buy’s Headquarters not too long ago, is a great way to illustrate the value of “learning what you don’t know. “  For Best Buy, that insight led Corporate Communications to create some of the most progressive employee listening practices out there, and it paid off in spades through the recession.

Recently, our research team has heard some even more startling “now we know what we didn’t know” experiences from our members.  Many senior communicators are finding that they actually aren’t even experts on the employees on their own teams and they’re struggling to work through new retention challenges.

This isn’t a difficult trap to fall into.  Since we often consider ourselves the “experts” on employee engagement, it’s not a huge leap to assume that our departments will be less privy to engagement challenges.  However, recent chatter is suggesting that’s not the case.  The good (or bad) news is that we’re not alone.  Our sister program for heads of HR has found that while both discretionary effort and engagement are slightly improving, intent-to-stay is approaching low levels last seen in 2008.

Read More »