Nick Miller

Employee Engagement: Engraining recognition into your corporate culture

Communicating appreciation in the workplace, both top-down and peer-to-peer, is critical to building engagement. A simple “thank you” or “job well done” can often hold the same value to an employee as a monetary reward. Creating a culture of appreciation will let your employees feel valued and know that their efforts are appreciated, but it is something that happens over time and involves all levels of employees.

It starts at the top. Regardless of the type of culture a company is trying to create, leadership sets the tone for the entire organization. Culture cascades through the organization just like tangible communications, so appreciative behavior is likely to be mimicked as employees observe their managers. From there, they set the example for the next level of employees and this trickledown effect permeates throughout all employee groups.

Change how employees view recognition. Many companies make the mistake of treating recognition programs as a box to check without considering the requirements of keeping the program fresh, effective and sustainable. Launching a recognition initiative should be strategic in order to ensure that associates aren’t jaded by “just another program” that falls by the wayside. You might tie recognition to the company values or other objectives that you want to reinforce over the long haul.

Consider using perks to encourage recognition. Intranets and microsites are great solutions to track who is being recognized and why. We at Tribe promote gamification of your recognition program, such as points-based systems that can translate into giveaways or drawings. Engagement for programs like these are often higher – as it’s hard to beat free stuff.

Publicize recognition to the whole company. Part of fostering recognition within your corporate culture is to communicate it to everyone. Take specific examples and print them on posters, post them on digital signage or include them in your newsletter. Employees value seeing their peers recognized on a broad scale and will use the indirect appreciation as motivation to be the next one. Make sure to spotlight all levels of employees – down to the part-time, hourly workers. In doing so, you’re promoting equality and inclusion, key aspects of an appreciative culture.

Interested in showing your employees how much they mean to your company? Tribe can help.


Nick Miller

Be the source of information your workforce can trust

The world experienced a global erosion of trust in their traditional sources of information in 2016.
The rise of fake news, alternative facts, and echo chambers, whether it be partisan press or social media, has hindered factual information from being treated as such.

The consequences of a workforce that is, by default, skeptical of information has wide ranging implications to your company. Ensuring your internal communications are excluded from such doubt of validity could be a difficult, but necessary, undertaking.

The good news is that, as an employer, you already have a foundation of trust to build upon. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual analysis of global trust in organizations, paints a positive picture for the influence of business. Business, as an institution, experienced the least significant degradation in trust by percentage, over government, media, and NGOs. According to Edelman’s study, three out of four people agree that a company “can take specific actions that can both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.”

But business is not entirely in the clear, and must act in order to retain their favorable position. Globalization and wildly unbalanced financial gain of executives are common sources of fear and distrust among the workforce. Edelman’s study has also uncovered a corrosion of trust in experts, regardless of field, with CEO credibility decreasing the most in the past year, dropping to an all-time low. Peer-to-peer communication is considered most credible as people seem to be most comfortable with a spokesperson that is akin to themselves.

A number of conclusions can be drawn for internal communications. One of Tribe’s takeaways is that, now more than ever, corporate communications are most effective when it is communicated in a manner that makes all employees feel like they have the most accurate and current information about the company. That means giving the business reasons behind a major organizational change, for instance. It also means sharing numbers, whether you’re discussing the engagement survey or financial results.

Interested in maintaining the credibility of your internal communications? Tribe can help.


Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

What Can Communications Professionals Do If Their Company Isn’t Already a “Chill Place?”

iStock_000088161219_skate“If your company  is a chill place, you won’t have to talk about it. It will be obvious the minute you walk in the door.” Could not agree more. The above is from Liz Ryan, author of a fantastic Forbes blog  titled “Please God, Can We Stop Talking About ‘Core Values?'”

“A lot of corporate and institutional weenies love to talk about Core Values, as though their organization’s values were somehow fundamentally different from every other organization’s values.” That’s another scathing but awesome line from her blog.

And this, perhaps, is my favorite bit: “I assume you lead your company with a human voice and choose trust over fear at every opportunity. If you do those things, you don’t need to stop and plumb the depths of your Core Values.” All of the above and more from her post is excellent advice for the CEO and his or her leadership team.

But what if you’re charged with communicating culture to employees in a company that isn’t totally chill? How can you help shift the culture towards what Ryan calls a “human place.”

The best thing you can do is to lead from where you are. Start your communications strategies from a place of respect for employees. Be the voice in the meeting that speaks up for being  honest with employees, even when it’s difficult. Put communication channels in place that give employees a way to share questions, concerns and comments — and then create systems for giving those employees a response. Advise your leadership to take the high road, even when that’s not what they want to hear.

While this is decidedly more difficult than working with a company that already has an enviable culture, it may have a more powerful impact on the world. As the bumper sticker version of Ghandi’s words says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Want a partner in helping to shift the culture at your company? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Four steps to creating a cultural shift in your company

Let’s say your CEO decides the company needs a cultural shift. When the current culture isn’t creating the right results; or when the company acquires other companies; or when leadership develops a new vision for the company’s business goals; the existing culture might need to evolve to support the success of those changes.

Here are four elements of making that shift a reality:

  1. Define the desired culture: The first step is to develop the framework for where you want the culture to be. What is top leadership’s vision for where the company is going? What are the values that will support reaching that vision?
  1. Know the gap: A crucial step to creating a cultural shift is understanding the gap between the desired culture and where you are now. At Tribe, we do that during the discovery phase of strategic planning, through interviews, focus groups and surveys with employees representing a wide cross-section of functional areas, job level and geography.
  1. Articulate the desired culture: It doesn’t do much good for the C-level to agree on the culture they want if that’s not shared with employees. At the launch of a cultural shift, we often recommend a vision book to put a stake in the ground. Distribution might be timed with an employee event and/or other initiatives to communicate the vision and values.
  1. Help employees see their role in the vision. If the desired culture is customer-centric, for instance, those employees whose jobs aren’t customer-facing might assume it doesn’t apply to them. Communicate how every single person in the organization supports that vision in their day-to-day work. In the customer-centric example, employees in the call center will have an easy time understanding how they serve the customer, but those in other departments, from accounting to IT, might not find it obvious that their work supports internal customers and thus enables those people to serve the company’s customers.
  1. Reward those who demonstrate the desired culture: The goal is for the entire employee cycle to support this cultural shift. It means changing the way the company recruits new employees; onboards new hires; recognizes employees; and rewards performance.

Ultimately, the culture is defined by the qualities that are rewarded. If employees see that raises and promotions are tied to exhibiting the values, behaviors and accomplishments that align with the desired culture, they’ll get on board. If they don’t see that happening, the new culture will be a much tougher sell.

This is the critical follow-through that’s often out of our clients’ hands. No matter how much you communicate the desired culture, the reality of that shift is dependent on operational changes throughout the company.

Interested in creating a cultural shift in your company? Tribe can help.



Communicating Culture of New Management

Changes in a company can be difficult. Even more so when the change revolves around a switch up in a management position. Processes change, new people come in, other people move on — it can be a bit of a whirlwind. That’s why when your company begins to feel it’s the right time to make a change in management, that’s also the right time to develop a plan for how to introduce this to your employees.

It should start with a discovery session. It should review the history and current culture of the company and ask the incoming manager what changes (if any) they want for the company moving forward. Available internal communications vehicles and how they’re currently being used should be examined at this point as well.

Based off of the discovery session, a change management strategy should be developed. The strategy should provide specific goals and objectives and summarize the demographic and psychographic needs of each audience. It should also put a timeframe in place that clearly outlines the communication resources that will be needed. New channels and programs can be introduced to help connect the new manager with their employees. This could involve the development of a blog or webcast that employees turn to for information directly from the new manager.

Then comes the time to put the wheels in motion. Once all the homework has been done and the path has been laid out, the execution portion of the plan should go into effect. Timelines should be adhered to, but not so strictly that they ignore new developments or unforeseen outcomes from communications. Although change can make for scary times for employees, it also has the potential to be a real positive force that helps the company reach much higher levels than ever before.