– By Roger Bolton and Ethan McCarty, Global Head of Employee and Innovation Communications, Bloomberg. Originally published Feb. 23rd, 2018 on the Arthur W. Page Society Blog.
In a dynamic discussion a few weeks ago, a small group of Page and Page Up members meeting in New York City explored the challenges of engaging employees in support of the enterprise.
In this era of radical transparency and low trust in institutions, employees have a lot more impact on public perception than ever. Engaging them in building and telling the company story thus is critical to building stakeholder engagement and trust.
The discussion was off the record, so we won’t reveal names or specific examples, but the key takeaways are worth sharing.
- Listening is the key to getting the story right. To make the company’s narrative really resonate, it should reflect the mission and purpose of the enterprise and relate to the actual work employees do. The best way to build the story is by listening to employees at all levels, not by huddling with the old guard at HQ. Everyone in the room described elaborate listening programs that were not just inclusive of the execs.
- Make it easy for employees to get access to shareable content. We had a great discussion of available platforms. Of course, the content must be authentic to their experience or it won’t resonate. See point 1.
- Motivate middle management. No surprise here, but middle management can be a blocker. Some in the room actually seemed to activate the very top and the bottom of the organization, but this could be a perilous end-run around middle managers. A better approach might be to engage middle management in message creation (see point 1) and find champions who love living, modeling and telling the story.
- Encourage employees to tell their stories on Glassdoor. Disgruntled ones do it anyway, so actively encouraging all to participate can help to present a more balanced picture. That’s assuming, of course, that you’ve observed point 1 already and have listened and responded to their concerns in a meaningful and material way (not just messaging).
One more thought: A lot of this listening and sharing is enabled by technology. If used thoughtfully to enable authentic human connections, digital engagement systems can be incredibly effective. All of us must remain diligent, though, about resisting the misuse of technology that has plagued the social media environment, where fake news and fake personas distort authentic dialogue between real people.
I had the pleasure of attending this year’s annual conference for Page Up in Washington D.C. this week; my fellow Operating Committee member and great friend, Stacey Bailey and I did a Facebook Live wrap up following the event. We tried to capture some of the stand-out insights and highlights of the conference, whose agenda is here and more about Page Up here.
Speaking at the Poppulo conference in Chicago w great folks incl. David Grossman Richard Gera Rob Biesenbach http://ow.ly/wdYJ30eLqjW
Serendipitously, two things appeared in the news this week on the same day related to my work. The first is an article I submitted to the Institute for Public Relations a couple months ago. They’d asked me to write a few articles for them late last year; this is the second. “Don’t Measure Internal Communications“
The second is a recap from an event at which I spoke for PR Week — it is a teaser for a full-length article about my talk that will go up in the next print edition of the magazine. “Analytics in Action: Measurement with Meaning“
Both are based on work I’ve been doing at Bloomberg and stuff I learned from my time at IBM. I’m really happy that some of the strategic work I’ve done for these firms is finding an interested audience outside of the company — and really happy that Bloomberg has encouraged me to share.
If you are moved to do so, please pass along the links to anyone you know who might be interested.
Well this is pretty cool…#augmentedreality #ar Tech At Bloomberg http://ow.ly/onHH30e4LoI
Required reading for HR and ecomms: How work changed to make us all passionate quitters http://ow.ly/NjHN30dXrfo via Aeon
Want to work on my team Bloomberg LP ? We have great snacks! (And do an occasional innovative thing or two.) http://ow.ly/RBza30cF5VM
“The People Marketer” A little mktg jargon aside, @jeannieymullen rightly reflects employee networks’ power. http://ow.ly/V75D30c9Vf6
Many people will tell you otherwise, but if you really want to enhance your credibility as a consultant on all things digital communications, just hold a giant piece of paper in your hand. True story. It works!
I tried it while moderating a panel on employee activism at the 2017 Arthur Page Society Spring Seminar.
Pretty legit, right?
More importantly, I got to talk with three incredibly interesting people: Heide Gardner, Dawn Lyon, and Tracy Chou. Here’s the session description:
The focus of this conversation will be to understand how employees are activating change within their companies and what leaders can do to work with them more effectively. We will explore questions such as: What is employee activism? How do you identify and work with employee activists? What are the advantages for organizations that proactively work with their employee activists? Page Up Member, Ethan McCarty, will moderate a panel with Tracy Chou, co-founder of Project Include who will discuss her role as an employee activist when she was with Pinterest. They will be joined by Dawn Lyon who will explain how Glassdoor encourages companies to make changes in their workplaces and share research on what today’s employees want most. Heide Gardner of Interpublic will describe her extensive experiences with multi-cultural Employee Resource Groups.
Fascinating close-reading of Melania Trump’s photographic work: http://ow.ly/hatY30aUBjC