Brittany Walker

Managing Manager Communications: The Art of the Toolkit

Providing leaders with the resources needed for cascading consistent messaging is important. In many cases, the responsibility of delivering company news falls on managers. Without the proper guidelines and tools in place, it’s easy for information to be filtered through the lens of each individual. The problem comes in when their interpretation of the message changes, slightly or vastly, from the message the company intended.

Make it easy. The answer to this common communications strife may be easier than you think. Providing managers with simple communications tools, like talking points and FAQs, can go a long way towards keeping them on-message while also making their job easier. And making communications easier for managers will increase the likelihood of the message being delivered.

Everyone communicates differently, and that’s okay. Particularly for major initiatives, a communications toolkit can be an efficient solution. A range of communications styles can be accommodated by providing an electronic compilation of email templates, flyers they can print themselves, PowerPoint presentations, talking points, training guidelines and more.

Give managers a head-up. Communicating with managers in advance will allow them to process the announcement before cascading information to their teams. They should have a solid grasp of the upcoming change and how it impacts the company, their role and the individual roles of their employees. Providing information in advance will also give these leaders a chance to get onboard with the change. Once a manager is embracing the change, they can act as informers, as well as reinforcers.

Need help with manager toolkits? Tribe can help.

Brittany Walker

Employee Photography: Why it’s worth the investment

An important contributing factor to successful employee engagement is human connection. Employees can smell inauthenticity from a mile away, especially if it’s in the form of a model posing as an employee.

Nobody’s hair is that perfect while driving a fork lift. Employee photography is one of the easiest ways to connect employees based in different locations, busting silos and creating instant assembly. Used in tandem with thoughtful stock photography, original employee photography will quickly elevate your library to a successful engagement tool.

In our opinion, the three benefits below are well worth the investment.

1. Turn employees into celebrities. Enlist a quality photographer who will be strategic in their shots. Photography is a great way to make heroes of your employees. The objective should be to show the people doing the real work within the organization in a way that makes them look heroic. If you have a multiple locations and functions, try shooting a few places a year to become inclusive over time.

2. Show your desired culture in action. When the goal is to communicate certain values like collaboration or innovation, what better way to showcase that behavior than show your employees living it. Tribe recommends capturing real working photos of employees doing what they do best, their jobs.

3. Increase engagement across a variety of channels. It’s no secret that visual messaging gets more consumption. Whether your photo shoot is for an upcoming internal magazine, vision book, annual report or just to stock the visual library, be sure to shoot for many different scenarios to stretch your content usage. To create even more assets, snap a few behind-the-scenes shots of the shoot itself to build excitement. Employees enjoy seeing their peers, and themselves, celebrated by the company, providing an immediate connection to the bigger picture – pun intended.

Need help with employee photography? Tribe can help.

 

Brittany Walker

4 Reasons Not to Give Up on Communicating to Frontline Employees

Many companies with great internal communications have trouble reaching their non-desk employees. Why? Because communicating to employees who aren’t behind a desk all day can be hard. Whether it’s your sales force, retail team, physicians, manufacturing line or delivery drivers, frontline employees are often those who need to hear from corporate the most. Here are four reasons why sticking with a non-desk communications strategy could benefit your business.

1. You can’t expect employees to be aligned with the vision if they don’t know what it is. It’s no secret that many companies overlook communicating with non-desk employees. But it could be a big miss not to engage your frontline employees in the vision of the company to make them feel part of something bigger. In fact, Tribe’s national study on non-desk workers underlines the importance of communicating the company’s vision and values to this employee population.

2. Consistent corporate communication builds engagement. Many companies leave most – if not all – internal communications with frontline employees to their supervisors. While cascading communications can successfully deliver messages when executed correctly, our research indicates this is a missed opportunity to build engagement. What’s more, those employees who never hear from top leadership interpret that as a lack of respect for them and their contributions to the company’s success.

3. Frontline employees can have a tremendous impact on the customer experience. Whether the customer is an individual consumer or a business, they’re probably interacting with those non-desk workers. It is up to these employees to deliver on your brand promise.

4. Visibility from corporate is often something they crave. Just because many companies aren’t talking to non-desk workers doesn’t mean they don’t want communication from top management regarding the internal brand. Trust us, employees who work the overnight shift often appreciate these communications more than anyone else. We know because they’ve told us.

Need help with your non-desk communications strategy? Tribe can help.

 

Brittany Walker

Three tips to optimize your employee survey

Employee surveys can be a great source of valuable insight into your company. Obtaining honest feedback from employees is an important step to improving overall engagement. However, a lot of the legwork comes after the survey is complete. Here is a list of our top three tips to get the most out of your employee survey.

1.  Slice and dice your findings. Asking demographical questions at the beginning of your survey like age, gender, tenure, work function, etc., will allow you to take your analysis to the next level. Knowing that 20 percent of your employees are unhappy with their work-life balance is good to know, but being able to pin point a specific department or office location where the problem is occurring could help solve the issue even faster.

2.  Keep your word on the survey’s anonymity. If the survey was advertised to employees as anonymous, it’s important that it is treated that way. Employees are much more likely to respond candidly and honestly if they know you won’t be able to trace their answers back to them. Working with a third-party vendor like Tribe can also contribute to employees feeling more secure in their responses.

3.  Deliver on your promise. One of the worst things you can do afterdeploying a survey is not following up. Communicating that your survey will affect change will empower your employees and managers to speak openly about their challenges and suggestions. Think of the reasons you are administering the survey and be prepared to take action on what you uncover. If nothing else, you can share the survey results with your employees.

Tribe specializes in crafting, executing and analyzing employee surveys. If you need help with your next survey, Tribe can help.

Brittany Walker

Does Your Culture Support New Moms?

Brittany had planned to post a blog today on best practices in workplace lactation rooms — covering the issues that are important to breastfeeding mothers and how companies can best accommodate their needs, as well as the importance of a culture that offers the flexibility to make it easier for women to return to …

BUT SHE WENT INTO LABOR BEFORE POSTING!

Want to stay in the loop? See Tribe’s Facebook page for the latest news.

Brittany Walker

3 Tips for Making Digital Communications More Engaging

The landscape of digital communications is continuously evolving. When it comes to engagement, thinking strategically and creatively will make all the difference. Here are three tips to thoughtfully increase engagement through your digital channels.

  1. Keep it short and to the point. We’re not saying that text-heavy channels can’t have a place in your IC arsenal, but communications consumed on-screen should generally be concise and direct. Whether you’re revamping your intranet, introducing digital signage or updating your corporate email strategy, a big differentiator in reaching employees in a meaningful way is to mirror the digital consumption trends they experience in their personal lives. Think bite-sized, easy-to-consume information, with a direct call-to-action to learn more.
  1. Shine the spotlight on employees. Make heroes of the people behind the hard work though employee spotlights. Simply put, employees love reading about other employees. Spotlights are a great way to feature frontline and field workers and celebrate their contributions, through regular Q&A’s in a newsletter, online recognition programs or contests that highlight employee performance. Spotlights also succeed at humanizing leadership by giving them a venue to share their vision and expertise.
  1. Make it move. From professionally produced videography, to quick-hit smart phone videos, to two-second GIFs, switching out still pictures for their moving counterparts can automatically enhance the employee experience. Video can be a great tool for engaging employees and breaking down silos because it truly gives an authentic face to employees and leadership alike, which is difficult to capture through picture or text alone. For a cost-effective solution for high-quality video, prepare material for eight to ten videos that can be shot in one day. If shooting leadership, we generally ask for 45 minutes on the CEO’s calendar and less than 30 minutes with other members of the executive team.

Need help with your digital communications strategy? Tribe can help.

Brittany Walker

Tribe’s Take on France’s “Right to Disconnect” from Email

Will corporate culture trump the law? Earlier this week, a new law went into effect in France giving employees the legal right to unplug. The law requires companies with more than 50 employees to establish hours when employees are not required to answer email. As we get more and more attached to our smartphones, tablets, and even our watches, the lines of business hours and expected availability will only continue to get blurrier. Below is Tribe’s take on the new regulation. Similar to non-exempt laws in the US restricting off-the-clock work for some types of employees, this law could be a launching pad for tighter restrictions across the board.

We’re curious to see if the law will actually work. It will take some time to determine significant impacts, but acceptance of these behaviors will rely heavily on individual company culture and direct manager-to-employee relationships. Instituting change in an established culture can be a daunting task, but certainly doable with the right communication and executive buy-in. It will be interesting to see if legal action accelerates these changes in behaviors.

A less stressed workforce can result in lower healthcare costs. Email overload, whether received day or night, has been reported as a significant source of workplace stress. As NPR highlighted, a group of Stanford business professors have estimated that work-related stress added between $125 and $190 billion dollars per year to America’s healthcare costs, amounting to between five and eight percent of total costs. Overwork accounted for $48 billion of that.

Decreased burnout can equate to higher engagement. With hopes of being more than just a ban on after-hours emails, the law anticipates making a real impact on work-life balance. The ability to unplug and detach from work-related responsibility could positively impact morale, engagement and productivity. Time will tell if other countries will join the movement, or if France will remain a lone trailblazer.

Interested in improving your culture’s work-life balance? Tribe can help.

Brittany Walker

How to Turn Post-Meeting Behaviors into a Productive Culture

It’s not about the meeting. It’s about what happens after. Establishing a culture of being productive before, during and after meetings can work wonders on efficiency. In this post, we’ll cover the behaviors that should immediately follow the meeting.

Encourage smart scheduling. Meeting times and scheduling can help or destroy productivity. We understand that calendars get booked and squeezing in those one-hour meetings can be the only way to move things forward. But instead of blocking calendars full and tackling the to-dos later, establish a culture of shorter meetings to leave time for the important steps that should follow immediately after. Tribe recommends scheduling 50 minute meetings instead of the traditional – and often default – 60 minutes. Getting those precious 10 minutes back to regroup and establish next steps can vastly improve output.

Capture action items. A great meeting just wrapped with a lot of deliverables for multiple parties. Instead of letting those tedious scribbles collect in a notebook, encourage employees to immediately record action items to get their team to the next milestone. At Tribe, we use Action Cards, a great low-tech solution that works well for us. Our Action Cards include due dates, details and the person responsible, taking the guess work out of what’s next.

Communicating decisions. The act of making decisions while in a meeting is as triumphant as important, but what’s next? Communicating the news of decisions to the appropriate person or team is just as significant as making the decision itself. Just as there should be clarity about who’s in charge of capturing the action items, make sure your post-meeting communicators know their responsibility in keeping everyone on the same page.

Interested in developing your productive culture? Tribe can help.

Brittany Walker

Four Tips to Launch an Effective Ambassador Program

You’ve got an important initiative, big organizational change or great new communications channel. Now what? In most cases the next step is to start producing news and information to keep employees informed. Establishing a successful internal communications platform like a well-rounded intranet, newsletter or digital signage is great, but having internal resources throughout the company will keep you on track for success.

Tribe recommends an ambassador program. From gathering and editing content, to providing a face-to-face internal voice and guidance among employees, a team of ambassadors can take your communications efforts to the next level. Here are four of our suggested tips for a successful ambassador program launch.

  1. Recruit the right team. A program of ambassadors positioned throughout the company can be a natural source of support across functional silos, business units or geographically locations. However, the right employee is key. A successful ambassador is often a more junior employee eager to make a name for themselves. Energy level can be more important than experience.
  1. Spread the word. Tribe usually recommends an announcement from management to reveal their team’s new ambassadors. Communicating the news of the new ambassadors will have two purposes: letting employees know who they should go to with their questions, concerns and relevant content, while also giving the ambassador the recognition they deserve.
  1. Provide the tools they need to be successful. Before ambassadors can become successful representatives, they will need some guidance. Introducing training tools like FAQs, conversation starters, and resources for connecting with each other to share best practices will go a long way in the successful launch and longevity of your program.
  1. Emphasize the WIIFM factor. The role of ambassador often adds to the workload, so clearly outlining what’s in it for them is important. Good news for you, becoming an ambassador is a great opportunity for employees. Not only will they have the chance to stretch beyond their current job descriptions, they will be able to connect and learn from some of the people doing the most important work in the company.

Need help getting your ambassador program off the ground? Tribe would love to help.

 

Brittany Walker

3 Tips for a Successful Culture Magazine

Culture magazines are a great resource for communicating across a multitude of functions and geography. Internal magazines are opportunities to bridge silos, create shared pride and boost recognition, all of which contribute to higher employee engagement.

At Tribe, we’ve created culture magazines for clients across industries ranging from consumer products to aviation to fashion. Especially in manufacturing, retail and other non-desk populations, magazines enable the company to make these frontline employees visible and even recognized as heroes throughout the organization.

Often produced as a quarterly publication, culture magazines don’t have to be a daunting or budget-busting. Here are three simple tips to keep your magazine on track.

  1. Develop an editorial plan. Establishing reoccurring topics and themes for each issue will take a load off the planning process at the beginning of each issue. Think through your messaging and communication goals for the publication, and be sure to work each of them into the plan. Allow for flexibility by including a feature story, but we would recommend at least three basics, like employee spotlights, leadership Q&A or wellness and volunteerism updates.
  1. Appoint an editorial board. This simple task has been a life-saver in ongoing magazines Tribe has produced in the past. At the start of each new issue, gather your established team composed of people from across different segments of the organization. All it takes is one organized conference call to discuss potential stories and features for the upcoming issue. By the time the call ends, you should have your identified editorial plan for the next issue, and the correct contacts to start producing the content.
  1. Keep revisions to a minimum. For best, and most efficient results, collaborate on the front end of the magazine, not the back end. A large part of this helpful hint is cutting down on the number of reviewers themselves. Once the articles are written and the issue is put into design, keep the circle as tight as possible. Multiple rounds of revisions can do damage to your timeline, and as a result, impact the budget.

Interested in developing a culture magazine? Tribe can help.