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.

What Does your Office Say About your Culture?

No matter how your company describes its culture, job candidates and new hires will make snap judgments the second they walk in the door. The physical appearance of the work place provides several clues to what it’s really like to work there.

Consider what your office may be communicating about your culture:  

  • How is the space used? An office designed as open concept with public work spaces and lots of casual meeting areas might signal a team-oriented culture that promotes collaboration and a younger, more modern approach to business. In contrast, an office filled with row after row of cubicles says something else entirely. One is not necessarily better than the other; some employees actually prefer cubicles.
  • Is the place a hoarder’s delight? If someone walks into an office and finds that the hallways are filled with stacked file boxes and the flat surfaces filled with clutter, they may feel a sense of inefficiency and disorganization within the company. An office that’s well maintained and well organized gives a more professional, efficient vibe.
  • Do the furnishings accommodate various employee needs? A company with standing desks, treadmill desks, specialized back support chairs, or even larger monitors can show that the culture values employees enough invest in their health and wellbeing.
  • What color are the walls?  Vibrant colors can portray a creative driven and upbeat company. Muted and neutral tones will signify simplicity and focus. But dingy beige walls that haven’t been painted since the company moved in a decade ago will communicate a message as well.

Whether it’s intended or not, the physical appearance of an office will speak to your culture. It’s an interesting exercise to compare your stated culture with the state of the workplace.

 

 Interested in better ways to communicate your culture? Tribe can help.

Jeff Smith

The Second Pancake Theory of Design

Good design is like making pancakes. Most times, the first pancake gets thrown away. It’s burned or gooey, flipped too soon or too late. To get to the pancakes that are golden brown and perfectly fluffy, you’ve got to let the first one or two go.

 It’s another way of saying Fail Fast. We’ve all heard those tired clichés about how if you don’t fail you won’t succeed, and how the best thing for everybody is a good old-fashioned failure. And guess what: that’s absolutely true when it comes to design.

The first idea you have is rarely the best. You start with a blank piece of paper or an empty computer screen. And you take for granted that your first several tries will be bad. Or at least not great. And if you want to get to great design, you have to do the bad stuff first.

Let’s say you come up with something brilliant, but the client rejects it. That’s failure, in a sense, but it’s okay. It’s also an opportunity. Getting a fresh look at a project that you’ve already spent hours on is sometimes the best thing that could happen to your work.

 There’s always more than one right answer to a design problem. Even if the creative work rejected by the client was brilliant, there’s another brilliant idea out there just waiting for you to discover.

When you step back and reevaluate, you begin to see other design solutions. And sometimes, you might even like that solution better than the first. More importantly, your client might like it better. Put in the time, trust the process, and let the work speak for itself.

 Interested in better design solutions for your internal communications? 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.

 

Nick Miller

Employee Engagement: Training & Development can lead to higher employee retention

Professional development programs can be a key element in employee retention. From a company perspective, training and development programs are meant to improve overall performance. But a well-designed program can do just as much for the employee. By providing employees an avenue through which to build upon their skills, it shows them the company has a vested interest in them as individuals, decreasing the likelihood that they’ll take those talents elsewhere.

The type of individual to partake in career development programs is one who welcomes more engagement. Take advantage of this desire to learn. By engaging this group in a meaningful way, they are likely to communicate these opportunities to employees that may not seek them out on their own. It’s a win-win situation for both the company and the employee base by increasing engagement levels. An engaged workforce is a happy workforce, and this too decreases the turnover rate.

Of course, it’s also important to ensure that training programs themselves are engaging. It will be hard for an employee to see the benefits of training if the material isn’t meaningful, or if the presentation is boring or poorly organized. The first step is to make the training materials and format appealing and motivating, while not coming across as cheesy or self-serving.

Communicate the “why.” Employees need to know that the time taken away from their regularly scheduled jobs is for a purpose. If they know up front what the training will entail and how it will improve their day-to-day operation or advance their career, they will be much more likely to see it as an opportunity rather than an obligation.

Bake in your corporate vision and values. The opportunity to get your brightest workers in one room with the hunger for learning doesn’t happen every day. Take advantage by reinforcing what is most important to your organization. By illustrating their role in the big picture, you are creating internal brand ambassadors, whether they know it or not. This too will increase engagement, and thus increase retention.

Structure your program to create a feedback loop. These are the leaders in your workforce, and they are a valuable source of information. Tap into this wealth by providing them a channel to express their opinions, not just on the development program, but the operations of your company. Show them that their voices are important and act on their suggestions. If they understand that their perspectives are valued, it will only benefit the organization.

Need help developing an engaging training program? Tribe can help.