How Coca-Cola and Snapchat Employees Manage Email

One of the most common troubles we see at Tribe is email management. At large companies, it’s a challenge to find a cure-all for groups of diverse employees who operate in very different ways. We work with companies to develop best practices and find a system that works for their unique situations. But there are some good practices that some Fortune 500 companies employ that can go a long way in getting your company on the right track.

At Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, Snapchat’s Emily White and Coca Cola’s Wendy Clark shared some of their companies’ email protocol to streamline the communication channel. And we thought it was pretty spot-on.

From LinkedIn.com:

  • Make the most of your subject lines. Clark said that at Coca-Cola, employees include tags in their subject lines to help manage email flow: URGENT, ACTION REQUIRED and INFORM.
  • Form habits you can keep. Recognize that you’re setting the standard for what people in your life will do, White said. If you start emailing people at night, people will expect you to be on email at night.
  • Give yourself white space during the day. Clark’s a fan of Google’s “speedy” meeting invitations, which are constrained to 50 minutes, without an option to override the system. By changing the standard for meetings to 25 or 50 minutes, the remaining five or 10 minutes can be used to check email or go to the bathroom, allowing everyone to be more present when they’re together.
  • Set boundaries. Camille Preston, author of Rewired, says having boundaries will help you with willpower. Put fences up to focus on what you want to do at that time.
  • Don’t hit send. If you want to work on the weekends, save your emails as drafts, but don’t actually send them until Monday unless they’re urgent. As a leader, you need to let people enjoy their weekends.

 

Need more help? Give Tribe a call. We’d be glad to help.

In Times of Change, Employees Are Watching and Listening

When changes are happening within an organization, whether it’s replacing a CEO, changing healthcare benefits, or revising your Flip-Flop Friday’s dress code policy, employees are paying attention. Perhaps they’re not all paying attention. And perhaps the segments that you intended to reach aren’t paying attention. But people are paying attention and trying to figure out the reasons behind the change.

There was a time when things could happen in the world and nobody would ever find out. Before the 24-hour news cycle, if you wanted to announce a potentially controversial change, you’d just do it on Friday afternoon or around the holidays. By the time you got back to the office, it was generally forgotten.

The communication and connectivity of today’s world means that our actions – no matter how large or small – can find an audience. This is just as true inside a company as it is on CNN or Fox News. So when management takes action or announces change, as communicators, we have to be ever more careful about who is going to notice or care.

Over the years at Tribe, we’ve been told by company leaders that since the changes would only affect the top few layers of management, there was no reason to develop specific communications for frontline sales and factory workers. Another was surprised to learn that changes in the senior management ranks over a few-year period had caused a significant level of concern about the company’s future among frontline staff.

As we’ve said in many a blog and to many clients, when there is an absence of factual information surrounding change, our human brains are wired to fill in the gaps with our imagination. The imagination feeds the rumor mill, and suddenly, we have a communications issue on our hands that’s spreading like wildfire.

So when changes are being announced, let’s be sure that our communications plans consider a broader group than those who are directly affected by that message. If a job function or department is being eliminated or consolidated into another, let’s consider who else will be impacted or might care about that change. It isn’t just the affected department. There is a group of employees who worked directly or indirectly with the people who were reassigned or let go. There’s a group of employees out there wondering if their department is next.

We’re not suggesting a need to custom-tailor messages for every employee segment within the company whenever a change is announced. When developing communications plans, we think it’s very important, however, to be as thoughtful as possible about who will be directly and indirectly impacted by the change.

And whether it’s through the company intranet, a Q&A platform or well-informed managers, when your employees have questions or concerns about a change, it’s extremely important that they have an easy-to-find, easy-to-use channel for understanding what’s going on. Because somewhere out there, somebody’s watching and listening.

Internal Magazines Can Make Heroes of Employees — And Promote the Culture You Want

Employees, like everyone else, enjoy their 15 minutes of fame. Internal magazines focused on culture, vision and values can feature employees in meaningful ways, through interviews, feature articles, Q & A columns, roundtables and employee spotlights.

For instance, in an internal magazine for Embassy Suites, we ran three employee spotlights in each issue. Our relatively simple process involved interviewing team members by phone. If the theme of the upcoming issue was innovation, we’d talk with three team members working in different locations and job functions about how they use innovative thinking in their jobs. Then we’d send out local photographers to get a photo of each team member, in some smaller markets hiring a shooter from the local newspaper.

Of course, this feature always made those three employees feel like celebrities. But it’s also powerful for housekeepers and front desk staff and breakfast chefs at Embassy Suites from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon to read about others with jobs like theirs. When a company publication turns the spotlight on those three employees, treating them as experts on topics ranging from leadership to problem solving, it also raises the importance of everyone working those jobs across the company.

These spotlights also model the desired behavior for other team members. Hearing how a shuttle van driver uses the company values in his day-to-day work inspires other team members to do the same. It shines a light on that behavior, serving as a conversation starter between managers and team members  – and a gentle reminder to all of the importance of their gracious, engaging and caring culture.

Connecting employees across silos is yet another benefit of these sort of magazine features. For a global holding company of apparel brands, our employee spotlights asked a series of questions, some about the business and others about their interests outside of work. This helps readers across the world feel a human connection with faraway employees like an accounting manager in Korea, a market director in England and a merchandising manager in Chile.

Interested in developing a magazine that showcases your employees and celebrates your company culture? Tribe can help.

 

Millenials and the Work/Life Balance

To Millenials, work and life aren’t mutually exclusive entities. I’m proud to be a member of the generation that is changing the face of the office. The ol’ nine-to-five, the grind, these colloquialisms exist in a world where a day at the office is synonymous with drudgery, even isolation. We don’t want work like that, and we’re proving that you don’t have to. Finding the balance of work and life throughout the day and the week is this generation’s key to a more efficient, productive and fulfilling workplace. But there are a few key misunderstandings surrounding that style of work that I want to address.

We can handle the “distractions”, and we use them to our advantage. Yes, I have twenty tabs open on our browser, and yes, I am G-Chatting with my cousin about her new baby while writing this proposal. I’m also writing a blog, reviewing a presentation and emailing a colleague. Impossible, you say? Not for Millenials. We were raised in an era where multi-tasking with technology is a must. We can move from work to life and back without losing focus and without slowing down. In fact, it’s been proven to help cognitive function. Experts say that taking these micro-breaks are crucial to keeping productivity and creativity going throughout the day. And that’s the end game for Millenials. For us, it’s not about hours spent, it’s about the results.

But that doesn’t mean we’re slackers. Just because we prefer to use social media at work, leave the office for lunch or try and get home early doesn’t mean we are lazy. Within the confines of the nine-to-five mindset, that seems to be the misconception. But within the work/life balance, work doesn’t have to end at five. An idea can come after dinner or even in a dream. If inspiration strikes, Millenials hop right out of bed and start fleshing the idea out. Personally, Sunday evenings are very productive and I regularly use the time to approach my work in a more relaxed setting. It also allows me to get ahead of the week and not get overwhelmed by an influx of work on Monday morning. Remember, just because you’re not seeing us work, doesn’t mean we are lazy.

We buck tradition, but that doesn’t mean we lack respect what’s come before us. There is a feeling that because Millenials are trying to change the workplace instead of conforming to it, we lack a certain humility and respect that is necessary in good work character. While I’ll agree that there is a definite lack of humility in my generation, it is not out of a lack of respect. We respect the leaders and innovators who have come before us, and we know that experience is invaluable in the workplace. We know we can learn. But we also believe we are capable of the same greatness. We feel like we don’t need to put our heads down for 10 years if we have the ability to achieve our goals now. We are bold, but we are not disrespectful.

By allowing and being accepting of the differences in a work/life balance, your company can harness the power of this dynamic generation. If you need tips on how to best reach Millenials or any other employee generation for that matter, Tribe can help.

Tribe’s Monthly Comic Strip: Change Management

october-comic

Is email the real time waster? Or is it just poor email practices?

Employees spend 28 percent of their time managing email, according to McKinsey. If we consider email just another channel, like the phone and the intranet, then email is one of the ways people get work done. Yet in Tribe’s research and client work, employees consistently complain of email wasting their time.

The problem lies not in email itself, but in inefficient email practices. Those sending emails often make poor use of the To and CC lines, use vague subject lines and write long and rambling missives instead of clear and concise emails. Employees aren’t processing their incoming emails effectively, and find themselves bogged down in their inbox, letting messages collect there until they can figure out what to do with them or how to respond. In workplaces everywhere, employees are missing important emails because they’re overwhelmed with so many that don’t concern them at all.

It’s also easy to let email interrupt your concentration on work that requires real focus. The constant stimulation of incoming messages offers ongoing distraction from the job at hand. The studies on how long it takes to get back on task after an interruption suggest that this isn’t a very productive way to work.

In an attempt to eliminate those distractions, one company banned email completely. Fast Company recently published a story on CEO Cristian Rennella outlawing all internal emails in his South American travel company. Instead, employees sign into a custom project management site that uses absolutely no notifications. The system is what Renella describes as “pull methodology” instead of “push,” since employees decide when they’re ready to read communications and field questions and requests from their co-workers.

The cultures of most companies might not support that “whenever” approach to response time. For those companies, Tribe would recommend training on efficient email practices to quickly and efficiently communicate with colleagues internally.

Does that sound like something your company needs? Tribe would be happy to help.

 

 

Best of Mobile from SMiLE 2014

If you made it to the 2014 SMiLE Conference this year in London, then you are already ahead of the Social Enterprise curve. This conference, coordinated by simply-communicate, brings together some of the bright and most forward-thinking minds in Internal Communications to learn, share and find inspiration.   

Part of the conference this years was their communications app roundup beAppy. This allowed conference-goers to see the latest platforms for mobile connectivity and IC. It’s amazing to see the leap mobile has taken over the last year, and with more options now than ever, more companies are going to start jumping on board.

It’s clear that mobile is here to stay. And it’s helping to solve more communication problems than ever. Below are some of the latest mobile apps, and how they could help your company.

From simply-communicate.com:

Jamespot

@jamespot - Jamespot is an enterprise social network publisher and provider of a collaborative platform in SaAS mode (Software as A Service). In their belief that the various uses of the web have reached the world of business, guiding it towards a new form of governance, Jamespot now supplies local authorities, public administrations, large companies, as well as SMEs and French organizations who wish to encourage social networking in their field.

The particular advantage of the Jamespot solution is its adaptability for each organisation: it is interoperable with workplace applications, taking on the design of the company which it represents, and gives added value to the information through the social graph. The goal of Jamespot is to offer organizations a high-performance communication and management tool with measurable added value for all, by simplifying management and collaborative work.

YUDU

@YUDU - Distance is no longer a barrier to providing clear, regular, up-to-date communication both online and offline. Distribute internal publications through a secure branded app, which can be downloaded and accessed on all mobile, tablet and desktop devices.

YUDU technology works alongside existing Intranets to make sure employees have access to the latest documentation. Currently being used by companies such as KPMG and Whirlpool, whose closed-access apps can only be accessed by their employees. A comprehensive analytics package enables communications teams to study employee engagement and communicate more effectively.

Collaborne

@Collaborne - Collaborne combines personalisation, peer-to-peer communication, mobility, and big data search into a private, intuitive, and easy-to-use digital corporate communication platform.

Built to act on an organisation’s communication rules and objectives, Collaborne matches content and information with people in an entirely personalised way, letting companies to boost employee engagement, collaborate effectively, and ensure everyone has access to the information they need to accomplish their work. With minimal setup and intuitive user-interface, organisations can rollout Collaborne in no time. The solution is accessible from any computer or mobile device, wherever, whenever.

Beem

@Wearebeem - The Beem app provides an enterprise mobile content service, which takes the legwork and duty out of engaging with company content and tasks. Beem empowers companies to digitise their existing internal communications channels and material, along with external social media feeds and content, in one engaging mobile platform. The app excels in the area of multi-platform aggregation, white-label abilities (customisation) and mobile-first approach.

It integrates with systems such as SharePoint, Yammer, Chatter, as well as custom-built intranets and ESNs. Companies also have visibility over the performance of their current content channels via adetailed analytics suite. Beem is currently available on iOS and Android devices. A HTML5 version, which will service all other devices, will be available later this year.

Speakap

@Speakap - Organizations with part-time personnel, multiple locations, flexible shifts and high turnover, experience difficulties in informing and connecting with their personnel at the work floor.

Speakap connects people throughout the entire organization and facilitates top-down and bottom-up information flows in an user-friendly and familiar way. Hereby, employees are informed better, faster and more satisfied about communication with colleagues and management. To make Speakap a must-have application, they integrate their platform with multiple business software through our advanced open API.

Seenit

@_seenit - Seenit is a platform that allows brands and organisations to create engaging videos with their audiences. Individuals can collect and curate clips, using an online studio linked to a smartphone app and turn the content quickly into professional videos.

Seenit’s network of experienced filmmakers can assist organisations throughout the production and sharing of the content. Whether it is capturing the lead up to an event or the event itself from all angles, include employees, fans and experts in the creation of your video, the possibilities are endless.

VENNCOMM’s BLAP

@VENNCOMM - BLAP, VENNCOMM’s mobile group conferencing App, is the easiest and cheapest way to make instant, mobile, free business-grade international group calls. Imagine a scenario whereby an internal chat conversion is automatically turned in to a group phone call at the touch of a button.

Having already built an integration with Salesforce (and with plans to integrate with Chatter) VENNCOMM are exploring the enterprise social network (ESN) space to determine if voice has a part to play in supporting collaboration, content creation, communication and culture.

The App Garden

@TheAppGarden - The App Garden transforms the way organisations conduct business through multiple mobile channels by developing custom-built mobile app software solutions across the enterprise for selected industries. Their growing team of mobile website and app developers, graphic designers and mobile business experts build intuitive mobile solutions in-house at our offices based in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey.

Their broad range of experience in the technology industry enables them to develop innovative bespoke mobile solutions, tailored to the needs of a business. Based upon our technology advances in the mobile space and knowledge within select industries, we have developed a range of multi- channel mobile solutions, including two internal communication solutions; StaffTrain and StaffConnect.

Sideways 6

Sideways 6  - Sideways 6 is a new online Ideation and Idea management tool that helps companies harness the knowledge, creativity and experience of their employees to solve business challenges.

Driven by the principle of bringing beautiful, intuitive and integrated ideation networks to organisations of all shapes and sizes, Sideways 6 can either act as a standalone product or extend the idea management capabilities of existing enterprise social tools.

 

TheAppBuilder

@TheAppBuilder - TheAppBuilder is helping some of the world’s leading organizations to reimagine their businesses with mobile apps that delight employees, partners and clients alike. It’s now possible to create a new and exciting communications channel in 4-6 weeks, with little or no IT involvement required. Mobile apps are easy, fast, functional, and fun. Key content can be updated by anyone in seconds, and feedback received and analysed right away.

Global brands such as Michelin, O2, Heathrow, and Sodexo are using TheAppBuilder platform to communicate very effectively with distributed, non desk-based staff. Engagement scores have gone up by more than 100% in some cases, producing a fantastic

 

How Will Millennials Lead the Future?

There are 75 million Millennials in today’s workforce and they are changing the workplace at a rapid pace. This generation thrives on flexibility, social interaction and creative opportunities. Equipped with different expectations than baby boomers, they are defining new leadership styles that will impact the working world forever. So, what makes millennial leaders different from previous generations of leaders? 

In Tribe’s research with millennials, we’ve found unique characteristics of Gen Y leadership styles. Our research indicates that these younger workers will lead future generations with their highly social behavior.

1. Teamwork. One of the most defining characteristics of millennials is their desire to collaborate and communicate openly. This natural inclination changes the Boomer top-down leadership style to a more participative one. To support this change and build team relationships, millennials focus on team-building activities. Once they have an established team, they lend their skills and ideas to help make the organization successful together.

2. Social Interaction. Millennials are thought of as being the most socially conscious generation to date. They grew up with technology and dominate the world of social media. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Gen Y leaders value social opportunities and the flexibility to have a work-life balance. One research respondent explained, “You’re working with people. You go to lunch with friends. That sort of thing. You get to do your own thing, and on weekends you sometimes get together. A nice comfortable culture that’s still a business culture.” But don’t confuse this flexibility with laziness. They value work completed and they will recognize these opportunities as reward for their hard work.

3. Mentorship. Millennials are no different than other generations when it comes to receiving advice and feedback. They know veteran employees have valuable knowledge to lend, and they will work to absorb this information. About 59% of our Millennials respondents indicated that leadership means building strong relationships above and below in the company. Mentorship gives Millennials another opportunity to receive coaching and work as a bigger team.

Despite the differences in their leadership styles, Millennials are earning leadership roles faster than any generation to date. As this trend continues, workplace norms will begin to reflect this generation’s characteristics and style, and the Millennials style of management will really start to make an impact on the workforce as a whole.

Increase Collaboration By Raising Awareness of Siloed Expertise

Employees say they’d be more likely to collaborate if they knew about the expertise in other silos. In Tribe’s recent national research with employees of companies with workforces of 5,000 and more, many respondents reported that they have low awareness of the work going on in other silos.

When they’re not able to meet face-to-face, they want their companies’ help in connecting with each other. Over a third recommended the solution of communications that offer news about the areas of expertise and new projects happening in other business units, divisions and locations.

Intranet forums were the most highly recommended solution for connecting across silos. Over 40 percent of respondents suggested online forums for sharing news about other silos, as well as a place to share ideas and best practices.

Responses included:

“Give us their specific mission and specialty areas so we know they even exist.”

“Every new project at implementation should have a company-wide announcement kick-off.”

“(Want the) ability to find people and find people’s work.”

“Stop making it so difficult. Provide information on other parts of the organization so we can make informed decisions on who we need to reach out to.”

An employee directory was suggested by 36 percent of respondents. They reported that one of the most challenging hurdles to collaboration is simply knowing how to find the contact information for appropriate collaboration partners.

This is one of several blogs highlighting the key insights of Tribe’s upcoming white paper, “Employee  Recommendations for Connecting Across Silos.” The white paper will be posted on Tribe’s website and available for download in late October.

3 Ways to Make Leadership More Visible

In Tribe’s latest research and client work, we’ve found that more employees are feeling disconnected with leadership due to lack of visibility. Your CEO’s name is out there. It’s on company memos, letters, and most outward facing messaging. You employees might know the name, but could they point him or her out in a crowd?

Putting a face to a name should be more than an amenity. It’s a proven cognitive function that helps people empathize and respond to a someone’s message. Faceless communication is cold and distant, there’s no denying that, and that could be hurting your internal communications. Here are a few little things that could help employees put a face to a name and make your leadership’s messaging stick.

1)  Pictures in email signatures. This solution may come across as a bit goofy or outdated, but it comes directly from a survey respondent, and it’s really a simple solution for a major problem. It seems that at this particular employee’s company, there was a change in leadership. The employee immediately felt a disconnect from the new team, and regarded their messaging as distant and disengaging. The previous executive team had included pictures in their email signatures, and the new one did not. To this particular employee, that was the only major difference in the two’s communication tactics, but it made a huge impact on her impression of the new executive team.

2) Executive Blogs. Of course you’ll have to include a picture on here to get the full effect, but this goes a long way in adding another dimension to your executive team. It gives leadership a chance to talk about the company and be informative but in a more informal way. A more conversational voice and tone helps to reveal the person behind the position, and when it comes to communicating big company changes, employees can feel like they’re getting their information right from the source. It’s a win-win.

3) Video addresses or conferences. This is certainly the most expensive of the three tips, but it can go a long way in engaging employees. Instead of sending out a companywide memo, send a video with a member of the executive team talking about the topic. Hearing that leader’s voice, seeing their face and their mannerisms elicits empathy from employees and has a more emotional appeal than static text ever could. If employees feel engaged and connected to leadership, the messaging will undoubtedly be more effective.