Seeing the Vision is Critical to the Employee Experience

Every company has a vision, or at least they should. The issue most companies have is taking the vision from an idea to reality. Engaged employees work because they believe in what their company is doing and where it’s heading.

Although there are different silos in an organization, it’s imperative for employees to share a common goal. Everything they do needs to feed into the same objectives. Here are four ways you can focus your employees on those objectives.

  1. Make it visible. The outreach phase can include a booklet, brochure, mirror cling, paper weight, and the list goes on. One Tribe client printed their values on bags of snacks, and the employees loved them. Simply put, your vision needs to go where people will see it and see it often.
  2. If you want employees to believe the vision, top management needs to live it. Leading by example is key to getting everyone to buy in. Interview managers on how they live out the vision every day, post weekly or monthly blogs highlighting executives who employees look up to, or host town halls and Q&A sessions to gather feedback. The vision comes from the top, but the workforce believing in it is what drives it forward.
  3. Connect the day-to-day work to the vision. Communicate with employees at every level to show them how their work contributes to the greater mission. This helps with employee recognition, but it also shows how everyone is like a building block, nothing stands if even one piece is removed.
  4. Follow through with updates on the journey. Even if the information doesn’t paint the rosiest picture, employees need to know where the ship is headed. Quarterly updates provide a snapshot to compare with past performance. This is as much about keeping employees in the loop on progress as it is about showing everyone what happens when the entire company works with the vision in mind.

Whether you’re introducing a brand-new vision, or reinforcing an old one, your goals should be the same. Disseminate the information, have leadership live out the vision, connect daily work to the bigger picture and show employees how their hard work contributes to a more productive work environment.

Interested in crafting, launching or maintaining a company vision? Tribe can help.

4 Reasons Not to Let Employee Feedback Slip Through the Cracks

What’s the danger of asking for employee feedback? Letting it fall into a black hole. If companies are spending time and money gathering information from associates, employees will want to know how their responses are being used. If leadership doesn’t complete the circle, then company culture, perceptions and morale are guaranteed to stay the same.

Below are four reasons why execs should address concerns being raised by associates: 

  1. Values employee voices. Asking and acting on feedback gives associates the chance to feel that their voices and opinions are being heard and matter. This appreciation can help cultivate a greater sense of belonging within the company.
  2. Shows willingness to change. Listening to and applying employee feedback to the organizations strategy can help motivate employees to excel in their positions and produce a better product or service for the company.
  3. Job Satisfaction. If there is an issue that’s consistently brought up by employees, it’s most likely affecting their job satisfaction. By addressing the issue, hopefully it can help create a better work environment, which can lead to employees feeling happier in their positions and wanting to stay with the organization long term.
  4. Enhanced Recruitment. By understanding how employees feel about their job, employers are able to understand the positions and better attract and keep talent that is a great fit for the organization.

Interested in analyzing your employee feedback? Tribe can help.

Steve Baskin

The Value of Values

I was in a meeting last week with a leader of a global technology company who was not a fan of corporate values. We were talking about internal communications, and she said that most often, corporate values are empty words and that she’d rather focus on other things. What’s important to her is teaching her leadership how to communicate more effectively.

I couldn’t agree more on the importance of coaching leaders toward more effective communication. Regardless of how hard you attempt to align employees around the vision of the organization, if you can’t effectively communicate to employees, it will fall flat.

But, at Tribe, we believe that corporate values are extremely important. If the vision defines what the company needs to achieve to be successful, the vision instructs employees on expectations of how they should do it.

For many companies, values are indeed empty words – or at least, words that probably won’t help the company achieve their goals. Often, corporate values are distilled down to generic words that are really just table stakes or descriptive of how employees should act regardless of where they are – respect, integrity, excellence, customer-centricity. They do little to help employees understand how they could or should think differently about working within this company.

Values should reflect the DNA of the organization, but should not necessarily be defined by the organization. Like the organizational vision, leadership should define, communicate and live by company’s set of values. Leadership will have strong opinions about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior within the company. Maybe employees are asked to work hard, but are given flexibility about when and where they get their work done. Maybe there are sales goals, but it’s unacceptable to achieve those goals in a manner that undermines long-term relationships with clients. Leadership must set those expectations.

Values that aren’t true to the organization can be much worse than no values at all. Employees will immediately know if the company doesn’t live by the values that it espouses. So it’s critically important that leadership get outside of the C-suite to understand where the gaps are between the chosen value set versus the reality of the existing culture. It’s not a crime to have aspirational values – in fact values should drive us to strive further. But it’s counter-productive for a company’s values to diverge too much from reality.

Once you have a set of values that define and differentiate your culture, use them everywhere. Values should be a part of your internal communications, recruitment, on-boarding, employee development and bonus structures. Most importantly they should be communicated and demonstrated day in and day out by the leaders of the organization.

Interested in defining and communicating values? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Non-desk employees cite two issues with cascading communications

In most companies with non-desk workers, the default mechanism for communicating with them is through their direct managers. Frontline employees in manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, retail locations and the hospitality industry rarely have company email addresses, so using managers as human communication channels  a logical solution.

But using managers to cascade communications can be an imperfect channel. In Tribe’s research, employees have two concerns about communications that come through their managers. The first is timeliness, in that some managers will share with their team right away, others will eventually get around to it, and still others may never do it. Corporate often has no way of knowing whether the information has in fact been shared or not.

The other issue employees often cite is inconsistency of message. Human nature being what it is, each manager will filter the information through their own lens. Employees in our research often referenced the childhood game of Telephone, where a message is whispered from one person to the next to the next until what the last person in line hears bares little resemblance to the original message.

Tribe’s research also indicates that many direct managers may struggle with this process. In our most recent study, 53 percent wanted online tools to help them communicate with their teams more effectively. This could be a comprehensive online tool kit of PowerPoint presentations, email templates and videos. Or it could be as simple as providing a one-pager of talking points and maybe another page of FAQ.

Either way, these communication tools address several issues at once. They increase the likelihood that direct managers will indeed share corporate communications with their teams. They promote consistency of message. And they help both the direct managers and their direct reports feel supported and valued.

Of course, in most cases Tribe would also recommend some corporate communications that go directly to employees rather than through their managers. In our research, 72 percent said that hearing from their top management is important to them. And 84 percent said they currently receive “not enough” information from corporate.

Even with employees who don’t have company email addresses, direct communication from corporate is quite feasible. If you’d like to know more, just ask us. Tribe can help.

Are You Keeping The Door Open On Internal Communications?

Communicating with employees is more than sending out communications just so you can check off a box. There’s no perfect playbook to guarantee every single employee will truly listen, but you can capture moreof your audience with open channels of communication.

Having an open channel of communication with employees is something every business should strive for. The employee dynamic is different from office to office, but it’s hard to beat face-to-face communication. That can take shape in group sessions or one-on-one talks. If it’s possible, allow managers to carve out time during the week for this discourse.

When speaking to individuals isn’t feasible, questionnaires and surveys on the intranet cast a wide net. Many employees say online feedback is the best way to share their voice. Even private channels like Slack or Instant Messenger give employees a collaborative space to toss ideas around. However, if you collect input online, employees need assurances their feedback was read. Listening is an important element in any conversation.

After feedback has been gathered, have a plan to acknowledge and implement. Not every idea can be taken, and employees need to know why certain suggestions were left out. Explain your rationale for going the direction you did, and acknowledge the feedback that didn’t get used. The next time you want input from the workforce, they’ll only put in the effort if they know they’re being listened to.

It’s impossible to get 100% of your company’s attention, but through testing different methods you can find what works best for your culture. Communication within a company is an evolving conversation. Employees are eager to share their voices, they only need the avenues to do so.

Do you need help communicating with your employees? Tribe can help.

Open Enrollment Acronyms (and other jargon that employees just don’t get)

  

It’s that time of year again when companies start throwing around confusing words and acronyms such as, CBA, EAP and prior authorization. But do they know if employees actually understand the communications they’re sending to them?

And this is not a problem that’s exclusive to Open Enrollment. There are plenty of times when SME’s are tasked with communicating to people who do not have a basis on the particular subject, whether it’s IT, HR, Marketing or Finance.

Each department has their own lingo that becomes second nature because they hear it day in and day out. But terms that are familiar to one person can seem like Greek to another. So, when it comes to sharing this information with coworkers, it can be harder for them to get the message across.

This is where agencies can step in and be that translator. Agencies have the ability to take complex, subject-specific information and break it down into conversational language that can be communicated and understood by any employee within the organization. This allows companies to communicate quarterly financial earnings, benefits information, cybersecurity details, and beyond. Agencies become an instrumental tool in facilitating the connection between employees and the companies they work for.

Need help communicating with your employees? Tribe can help.     

Steve Baskin

Being The Best In Your Category Or Industry Is A Lot Like Being A Major League Pitcher

I’m in awe of Major League pitchers who can throw the baseball a hundred miles per hour. A few years ago, I was at an expo at a sponsorship event and stepped into a pitching cage to see how fast I could throw a ball.

Now I’m not completely un-athletic. But after lobbing the ball a few times to get warmed up, I wind up for the real thing –  forty-seven miles per hour. That couldn’t be right. So I wind up and give it everything I’ve got. Forty-six miles per hour. And now I have a newfound respect for major league hurlers.

So how does a major league pitcher make a ball fly at a hundred miles per hour and consistently hit an inches-wide target that’s ninety feet away? First, he practices pitching over and over for years and years. Then coaches and trainers meticulously hone the pitcher’s movements to ensure absolutely perfect form that won’t break down under pressure. Finally, and probably most importantly, the pitcher calls on every part of his body to participate in the process.

Sportscasters say, “that pitcher has a great arm.” But it’s not just the arm that throws the ball. Fingers have to hold onto and release the ball. The shoulder has to power the arm. The spine and hips have to generate torque to whip the arm around. The legs have to provide that forward propulsion for the movement.

The lungs can’t be seen from the stands, but if the pitcher couldn’t get air in him he wouldn’t be able to throw the ball. In fact, he’d die. The same is true with veins, arteries, blood and just about every other part of the body.

It’s a very similar story when we think about how high-performing teams deliver the brand experience at the best companies. There are front-line people delivering a service or selling the product. Typically, someone with a great pitch. But as important as they are, front-line employees are just the final connection to the customer.

Without the rest of the company, the brand experience falls completely apart. Someone invented the product or service. Someone figured out the operations requirements for building the product. Some actually worked on the assembly line or sewed on buttons. Someone made sure that the plant or office is a comfortable and safe place to work. Accounting figured out how to bill the customer so that employees could get paid and everyone would actually show up for work.

While the connection is not always obvious, everyone in the company has a role in the customer or brand experience. Everyone in the company contributes to making the product as good as it can be. Companies work at their peak when every part of the organization understands how his or her individual actions contribute to the company’s success.

Interested in communications that get every employee in the company aligned with your goals? Tribe can help.

Jeff Smith

The Internal Brand Starts With The External Brand

Your external brand or consumer brand, lives in a competitive environment alongside thousands of other brands. In order to stand out among the competition, brands do their best to differentiate themselves from others while remaining consistent – same logo, same colors, same fonts.

Internal communications departments often use their external branding for emails, the intranet, digital signage, and the like. Internally, your communications aren’t seen in rotation with other brands. Your audience can tire of the same thing over and over because there are no other brands working in the space to break up that experience. Oversaturating your internal communications with your external brand will eventually make your efforts invisible to the workforce.

Leverage your internal brand to create a more engaging experience by developing an internal brand. By expanding and building upon your external brand, a unique branding will emerge that employees already recognize. Not only will a fresh and expansive internal brand renew their desire to be engaged with, but it also acts as a cue for them to know that those communications are meant for them only.

We suggest developing your internal brand by creating the following:

  • Employer brand rallying cry
  • Adding additional colors to the existing brand palette
  • Design motif for backgrounds and other uses
  • Building a library of original employee photography

The internal brand should be authentic, genuine, and support the external brand. A good internal brand can transform your internal communications and create a better experience for your employees.

Need help with an internal brand? Tribe can help.

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.

Four Tips to Make Internal Communications Human

How are you communicating with your employees? Small companies have the benefit of easy, face to face interaction, but corporations with hundreds, or thousands, of employees can’t rely on a game of telephone. Communicating with a workforce that large means removing the personal touch a conversation gives. Making mass communication personal isn’t difficult, but it requires focus and effort. Here are four tips for adding a personal touch to your internal communications.

 

  1. Email is a popular avenue for internal communication, and for good reason. The majority of office employees have a company email, and in today’s world, emails are expected to be read. The issue is how the information is presented. A block of text is unappealing and won’t command anyone’s attention. Art directing your emails is a simple way to catch the eye. If the message is coming from someone in a leadership position, include their picture in the communication. Let employees connect a face to the message they’re receiving.

 

  1. Depending on the message, words alone might not be the answer. Shooting video of the CEO or an EVP delivering the message makes the communication more distinctive and puts a spotlight on the information. Just make sure the person talking on camera is comfortable with public speaking. If the confidence level of the speaker is low, employees will tune the news out. Admittedly, this is a riskier option, but done correctly, video is a refined way to communicate internally.

 

  1. Launch an anonymous employee feedback tool. Allowing employees the opportunity to provide critiques or compliments opens the door for honest communication. Their experiences are exactly what leadership needs to hear about — daily life in the company. To show employees that you’re listening, have a quarterly roundtable giving managers the chance to address employee concerns.

 

  1. Produce a podcast of executive or investor meetings. Giving all levels of associates an inside look at the company’s future and inner workings puts everyone on the same page. Providing that information helps promote transparency, and corporate transparency should always be at the forefront.

 

A successful communications strategy doesn’t have to include all of these tools, but it should incorporate elements of each to effectively reach your workforce. If these steps are implemented efficiently, your employees should feel like they’re working with you, not for you.

 

Interested in improving communication within your company? Tribe can help.