Building employee relationships can build employee engagement

To build employee engagement, create opportunities for employees to relate to each other. When employees have strong relationships at work, they’re more likely to be engaged — and to stick around. Here are three ways to make that happen:

 

 

  1. Look for ways to build visibility across silos. Help build awareness of the people and the work being done in different geographical locations and functional areas — through the intranet, employee publications, town halls or other channels. When employees are aware of other colleagues and the work that their doing, it smooths the way to potential collaboration down the road.

 

  1. Make celebrities of employees. Build in employee spotlights or other storytelling aspects to your recognition programs to help build human connections. Use photos of actual employees whenever you can, whether it’s for employee of the month or just a service milestone.

 

  1. Use wellness to create a level playing field. Fitness competitions, fitness tracker step-counting contests and other wellness initiatives are a great way to break down barriers between employees, managers and leadership. Nothing puts people on the same level like working out together. These sorts of programs also allow employees to build relationships that transcend workplace conversation, which can be valuable when they’re back in the office.

 

Do you need help engaging your employees? Tribe can help.

4 Ways to Align your Team with the Company’s Vision

True success as a company comes when you can align your employees with your vision. When employees feel connected to the direction of your company, they better understand their role in the structure and how their job can impact the success of the overall organization.

Your vision is the common goal that unites the employees. When everyone is engaged and working in the same direction, the company works smarter and better. And it’s leadership’s responsibility to communicate and align employees, especially as the company evolves.

Here are four ways that Tribe recommends sharing your vision with your company:

1) A vision book to set the landscape.  The goal of this product is to clearly articulate the vision, often along with the values that support that vision. There’s never a wrong time to unveil a vision book, but they can make the most sense during the launch of a major cultural transformation or immediately following a large-scale change, such as a major acquisition or a new CEO.

2) Leadership communications to make it relevant. Employees need leadership to lead by example. In town halls presentations, blogs and intranet articles, the vision can anchor executive announcements in any channel. When executives use their platform to tie company information back to the vision, it helps increase employee confidence in the company and trust in its management.

3) Manager communications to relate the vision to day-to-day work. Although leadership communication is important to set the bar for the vision, employees will look to their direct managers to understand how the vision impacts their individual jobs. This is where talking points and other communication materials can make it easier for managers to work vision into the conversation.

4) A culture magazine to share progress toward that vision.  Including articles on teams or individuals that have contributed to the company’s success help show the real life application of following the vision. Employees appreciate reading about the roles their coworkers are playing in achieving goals, whether those coworkers are in positions like to their own, or in completely different silos.

 

Need help aligning your team to the company’s vision? Tribe can help.

Steve Baskin

Leadership may know all the words, but don’t assume employees have heard that song

Leadership is listening all day long to a radio station employees don’t get. Those top layers of company management hear the same songs over and over. They know all the words by heart.

Most often, that station isn’t even on the dial for employees. They’re not in those meetings with C-level and the one or two layers below. They don’t see the same PowerPoints their boss’s boss’s boss sees. They’re not rubbing elbows with other SVPs or bumping into the CEO in the hallway. And the email that gets pushed to all employees describing the company’s new vision and values will rarely capture the nuance behind the new direction.

Tribe’s national research on functional silos indicates that executive management is often detached from employees. Although we generally think of silos as vertical divisions, in many companies the leadership level exists in its own horizontal silo.  And this exists even in some of the smaller companies that Tribe works with.

This divide can make it difficult for leadership to know what employees don’t know.  The vision of the company is clear to leadership because it’s a focus of their work. The business reasons for major, disruptive changes in the company are apparent because they’re dealing with those business objectives every day. Employees are often left out of this communication loop.

Vision and change, however, are the two topics employees want to know about and want to hear directly from the top. In other Tribe research, employees shared that when there’s a major change afoot, they prefer to hear it first from executive leadership. And when the discussion turns to where the company is headed, employees want their top management to fill them in on that vision. For understanding the details and how the change affects their individual roles, they’re comfortable following up with their direct managers.

Ironically, the same barriers that keep employees out of the loop makes it difficult for leadership to recognize their isolation. When we do employee interviews during the discovery phase of our work with clients, it often comes as a surprise to leadership that their employees feel so out of the loop on the vision and the reasons behind change.

That recognition is often the first step to aligning employees with leadership’s plan for the company’s future. When channels are developed to communicate directly from those at the top to the rest of the company; when employees feel in the loop on leadership’s plans; and when they see how their individual roles support leadership’s vision, it can create powerful alignment that streamlines success of the company.

The goal is to teach everybody the words to the songs leadership hums all day long. If you’re not sure where to start, Tribe can help.

 

 

 

 

Jeff Smith

Internal Communications: Brand guidelines are for video too

Video is a very strong form of communication. It can humanize executives, it can break down silos, and there is a level of entertainment that will get employees to watch and listen. But before you jump in and create a video, there are a few important brand tips to take into account, to make sure your video not only communicates the right message but feels like your brand.

Brand guidelines are important, and the same goes for video. You want to have a set of video brand guidelines that will assist anybody in the company who is making an internal video. These guidelines should include tone and voice, logo, color, and font treatment, shooting guides, and also editing techniques. Each of these categories will help ensure that no video will stray from what the brand stands for and how it is portrayed to all employees.

Go beyond the basics. It’s obviously very important to make sure you’re using the right tone and brand voice, along with correct colors and logos. But two of the most important things to consider when creating video brand guidelines are shooting tips and editing tips.

Show people in their work environments. Shooting guidelines are different for each company, but when interviewing employees or leadership, you might want to shoot people on the job rather than in front of backdrops. You want to portray your brand as authentic and genuine, and showing the actual physical locations of your employees can help portray that. It also helps employees throughout the company to get a better feel for other locations and areas of operation.

Think about post-production as well. Editing guidelines don’t have to be as complex as shooting guidelines, but the main tip for editing is to, keep it real. Although there are many tricks and tools available for video editing, they may not be appropriate for your brand. When in doubt, keep it simple. Better for your video to come across as authentic and human than slick and hokey.

Internal videos are a great medium for storytelling, for making human connections, and showcasing the people who work at your company. You want the way you communicate with your employees to be as powerful as the way you share the brand with the rest of the world. A set of guidelines will help you be consistent and professional in the way you communicate internally through video.

Need help creating video guidelines? Tribe can help.

Peer-to-peer recognition programs boost employee engagement

There’s a different dynamic at play when an employees’ peers recognize them for their work. They’re often told “good job” by their manager or direct superior, but peer-to-peer recognition is helpful in building collaboration, community and engagement. Employers often struggle with creating a program that is meaningful to the culture.

One way to ingrain employee recognition into company culture is to tie the program into your mission or vision. Ask employees to nominate peers that exemplify your values. This opens up recognition to every level of employment. Directors, managers, customer service reps, and sales people can be all be held to the same standards. Plus, showing love to every division helps retain employees that might otherwise feel undervalued.

Recognition or signs of gratitude can take different forms. At one end of the spectrum, the reward might be nothing more than visibility. But you could also consider a points-based system with a prize for the winner. Money, gift cards, a day or half-day off work all drive high engagement in recognition programs. More important than the reward is the overall experience. Employees should have fun when they participate, because when they do they’re more likely to stay involved.

There’s no reason not to make recognition public to the whole company. Upload digital signage with their names, post a congratulatory article on your intranet, or send a monthly email with a short Q&A highlighting them. This creates heroes in your workforce for others to look to. Employees appreciate it when their peers get rewarded for hard work, and in turn will strive to be the next one recognized.

Not to mention, it’s easy for employees to work only in their silo. Public recognition is a great way to introduce and showcase hard-working part-timers and remote employees with the broader company.

No matter how you handle employee recognition, you need to sustain it. Skipping a month shows employees that you don’t care about the program or their work, and in return they’ll do the same. The results of a more focused and determined workforce will be reason enough to continue.

Interested in implementing a lasting and rewarding employee recognition program? Tribe can help.

Jeff Smith

The Power of Design in Recruiting Millennials

Design is a strategic weapon. If you want to recruit top Millennial talent, one of the best things you can do is give them communications that make them want to be where you are. Design can change people’s minds, make them take a second look, and maybe even look further into a company they didn’t think was a good fit.

It could all start with a brochure. Whether or not your recruiting collateral ends up in the trash or stays in the hands of a potential employee can depend on design. That brochure or flyer might be the potential candidate’s first encounter with your employer brand, so it’s important to make that first impression a strong one.

Millennials, in particular, will notice the design. This generation has been raised on powerful branding, and they’re a discerning audience. If the design of your recruitment materials looks second-rate, they’ll assume your company is a second-rate kind of place to work. If you want to convince potential candidates that your company is a leader in the industry, your recruitment communications need to reflect that caliber of design.

Millennials also have lots of questions. What does your company stand for? What do you offer? What’s the culture like? Although your copy might include answers to all of the above, people will also collect clues from the look and feel of your recruitment materials. Use design to transform your recruitment collateral into a conversation starter.

Millennials respond to authenticity. In addition to great design, it’s also important to be real. Show photography of actual employees, not stock photography of models. If your company is particularly innovative, the design should reflect that. If it’s a collaborative culture, show that. Give potential job candidates a visual feel for what your employer brand represents.

Interested in stronger recruiting communications? Tribe can help.

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.