Brittany Walker

Three tips for cascading manager communications

Properly arming managers for cascading consistent communications can make or break your message delivery. In many cases, managers are responsible for delivering news to their teams. Without the proper guidelines and tools in place, managers will filter any information they receive through their own lenses. The problem comes in when their interpretation of the message changes, slightly or vastly, from the message the company intended.

The answer to this common issue can be easier than you think. Providing managers with simple communications tools, like talking points and FAQ sheets, can help them stay on message in face-to-face sessions. All while making things easier on managers. And making communication easier for managers will increase the likelihood that the message will be shared.

For major initiatives or change management issues, a communications toolkit can be an efficient solution. You can accommodate a range of manager communication styles by providing an electronic tool box of email templates they can copy and paste into their own emails, bulletin board flyers they can print out at work, PowerPoint presentations, videos, tip sheets, training guidelines and more. Many managers have different preferences when it comes to communicating, so providing multiple delivery methods will aide in a dissemination that is timely and authentic to their management style.

If you can, allow managers to receive the news of a big change before the rest of the company. For major change initiatives, giving managers a heads up will allow them to process the announcement before cascading information to their teams. Before they can lead their teams, they should have a solid grasp of the upcoming change and how it impacts the company. Providing this information in advance will also give these leaders a chance to get onboard with the change.  Once a manager is embracing the change, they act as informers, as well as reinforcers.

Interested in helping your managers cascade more efficiently? Tribe can help.

Brittany Walker

Work Smarter, Not Harder: How to Make Digital Signage Easier

Digital signage is a go-to internal communications channel, and there are plenty of reasons why. Whether your employees work in a corporate office, manufacturing plant or distribution center, digital signage gives companies of all sizes the ability to communicate consistently and interactively.

When it comes to engagement, thinking strategically and creatively will make all the difference, but it doesn’t have to be a drain on time or budget. Here are three tips to thoughtfully increase engagement through digital signage, while keeping it easy.

  1. Develop and execute an editorial calendar. Yes, it’s important to take advantage of the timeliness of communicating the latest news, but planning and creating content for evergreen messaging will keep your content fresh and engaging. Calendarizing your communications goals can help keep your messaging consistent throughout the year, driving home the ultimate goal of connecting employees’ day-to-day jobs to the vision of the company.
  2. Repurpose existing communications to drive home your message. We’re believers that all communications channels should work in concert to get the best possible reach. When the latest version of the newsletter is distributed, or an employee recognition announcement is sent out, tease it on the digital screens and drive employees to where they can learn more.
  3. Invest in a platform that makes communicating easier. There are now plenty of options available to make customizing digital signage more accessible than ever. Features range from tools as simple as setting the order and length of each slide, to more complex qualities like customized news to every location. For success in long-term engagement, be sure to select a provider with the winning combination of great technology and backend simplicity.

Interested in creating engaging content for digital signage? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Using Video to Humanize the Leadership Team: Five Tips to Make It Easy

Video can be a great medium for helping employees feel a human connection with company leadership. We’re not talking about an-hour long presentation on finances. Try 60 to 90 second videos on topics that have some relevance to the culture of the company, like one of the values, or a new sustainability effort. Or maybe try a video that includes all the members of the leadership team answering the same few questions, from the business-related, like: “What’s the coolest project you’re working on right now?” to the personal: “Out of all our products, what’s your favorite?” or even “What was your first job ever?”

To get the most bang for the buck, it’s helpful to plan a series of videos and shoot them together. That might mean shooting six videos that are each a conversation with one member of the leadership team about how their function supports the vision of the company. The CFO will obviously have different answers from the CMO. Or it could mean creating a dozen videos that each include responses from several different members of the management team. Using the examples above, one video could have each one answering the coolest project question. Then the next video might be the one where they each talk about their favorite product. The other 10 videos could cover anything from how they see the values playing out in their everyday work to how each of their functions helps the company be more customer-centric.

Here are a handful of tips to make leadership videos simple and affordable:

1. Prepare carefully. If you plan to produce 10 videos, you might want to develop ideas for 12 or 14, in case one or two don’t pan out. For each video you plan to produce, have the questions prepared ahead of time. Sometimes it helps to give the people you’ll be shooting the questions beforehand so they can begin formulating answers. Think through the edit and create your shot list. Know how you plan to cut the footage together so you make sure to cover everything you’ll need to shoot.

2. Position the interviewer off camera. Rather than a talk-show setup with an on-camera interviewer, keep it simple. Keep the interviewer off camera, and cut that person’s questions out later. The interviewer is there just to prompt the interviewees to cover the desired topics.

3. Use a green screen. Especially if you’ll be shooting leadership in different locations, this allows you to keep the lighting similar and slip in any background you want. Just position the green screen far enough behind the interviewee that the green won’t reflect on their skin.

4. Have a second camera. This can be a locked-down camera on a tripod without a camera operator. The purpose of this footage is to provide cutaway shots, particularly when you’re planning to use just one person in each video.

5. Be efficient with your executives’ time. Even if you’re shooting a dozen videos with six or eight different members of the leadership team, try to get the footage you need in under 30 minutes for each of them. In most cases, it should take less than that.

Interested in producing a series of leadership videos? Tribe can help.

Brittany Walker

3 Ways to Improve Internal Comms for “Free”

Custom communications solutions for free? You heard it right. In an industry where new technologies and services are sprouting up daily, and the options for subscriptions and add-ons seem endless, it can be difficult to navigate which solution is right for your team and your budget. Here are three Tribe-approved recommendations when going in free.

1.  Take a strategic approach. Before investing time in researching platforms, first determine the strategy behind why it’s needed. Whether it be reaching non-desk employees through a non-traditional channel, or grabbing the attention of employees in their already-overloaded inbox, it’s important to be clear on your goal. Different solutions are available to serve a multitude of needs, so defining the strategic plan is typically a great place to start.

2.  Invest in great design and development. When it comes to most basic, entry-level plans, custom design can take almost any resource from ordinary to engaging. And even more importantly, become cohesive with your brand. Tribe recommends resources like MailChimp and WordPress, which enable complete design freedom as part of their free subscriptions. With options like “code your own” and custom templates, you’ll be able to achieve the look, feel and functionality you’re after, all within the trusted portals of these established programs.

3.  Customize a template for future use and consistency. Measurement and analysis are important elements in communications strategy. Especially when it comes to capturing and quantifying employee engagement. Free surveying tools like those offered by SurveyMonkey can be a great resource for surveying employees, but can be a hassle when it comes to analyzing your results. Tribe recommends building custom spreadsheets and graphics to filter, analyze and showcase your results, based on your individual goals.

Know when to settle and when to splurge. Sometimes free options really are too good to be true, so it’s important to know where to draw the line. It’s all about knowing your need, and a lot of the time there are great, affordable options out there.

Need help navigating, sourcing and producing your communications tools? Tribe can help.

Steve Baskin

Avoiding the trap of treating employees like a second-class audience

Why would we treat employees any differently than we’d treat prospective customers? If it’s important to communicate a message to employees, then it’s worth putting the same attention to detail and quality of execution into the work as we would with external communications.

Tribe’s experience is that many companies don’t make this a priority. After getting to the finish line recently with a fairly complex internal communications piece, the timing of some of the marketing elements had shifted which rendered some of the details incorrect. Because of the expense of reprinting the physical piece, a decision was made to send a note accompanying the piece explaining the last-minute changes and that some of the information was incorrect.

The company wouldn’t send a note along with a TV spot explaining that some of the details are wrong. If the piece had been intended for consumers, you can be sure the materials would be revised – whatever the cost. I’ve been there and done that. Heads might roll, but the company would never knowingly send out consumer marketing that’s wrong.

Companies typically spend tens of millions, hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars per year to reach consumers. Research and results in the marketplace tell these marketers that this is money well spent. After all, we don’t know exactly who these consumers are, so it takes a large investment to find those consumers in order to build demand and loyalty for our products.

However, the inverse argument is a weak one. Some would say that since we know exactly who our employees are, we don’t need to assign the same importance, or budgets, for internal communications and the employee brand. This supports the view that employees are second-class citizens and a fine place to cut corners and costs whenever necessary.

At Tribe, we see the employer brand as the intersection of the consumer promise and whether that promise is kept. Employees are consumers. They’re bombarded with brand communications every day. They can discern thoughtful communications from boring mumbo jumbo. As internal communications professionals, our job is to understand what’s being promised externally and ensure that we’re matching that promise step for step internally.

We recommend the same high standards for internal communications as the company’s external marketing. As communications professionals, we need to understand the business need and objectives behind any internal campaign. It should be interesting and engaging. It should involve multiple channels to ensure that our audience is reached. We should be able to measure the effectiveness of the campaign in order to improve our efforts the next time around.

The great news is that we don’t need tens of millions of dollars to execute effective internal communications plans. We know who our target audience is. But effective internal communications does require a focused and intense effort to ensure that what we’re living internally matches what we’re saying externally.

Interested in improving the caliber and effectiveness of your internal communications? Maybe Tribe can help.







Brittany Walker

4 tips for keeping employees engaged in your intranet

Launching a new or updated intranet is a great start for improving internal communications. It is however just that, a start. The real challenges usually come in the following weeks, months, even years. A well thought out sustaining plan can be the key to keeping engagement high. Here are four tips to keep employees coming back to your intranet.

  1. Keep content fresh. When used properly, a successful intranet goes beyond the function of a virtual filing cabinet. Fresh, relevant content updated daily or weekly will keep employees coming back. To make every-day content creation more manageable, Tribe recommends establishing a content manager program. By empowering content managers across geography and work functions, you can build an army of ambassadors who keep news refreshed on an ongoing basis.
  1. Create a welcoming collaboration space. Breaking down silos through collaboration is a common goal, but often difficult to achieve. Providing employees with a collaboration platform in an environment where they already regularly visit is a big step towards making it easier. When choosing a collaboration tool for your organization it’s important to include employees in the discussion to really determine what tool will work best for your culture.
  1. Offer two-way communication. Leadership visibility is a frequent request of employees from all types of organizations. Providing an area on your intranet where employees can ask questions, give feedback or voice concerns to leadership is a great way to give them the outlet they need. Completing the loop of two-way communication is essential to employees feeling that their input is respected by their top executives.
  1. Provide a positive user experience. One of the easiest ways to lose engagement in your intranet is to make it difficult to use properly. If employees aren’t getting what they need in an intuitive and productive way, it’s harder to keep them coming back. When possible, Tribe recommends asking employees what attributes they would like in an intranet. Following launch, it’s also important to keep tabs on the functionality for the best possible experience.

At Tribe we like to think of the launch of an intranet as the starting line, not the finish line. Need help increasing engagement in your intranet? Tribe would love to help.


Steve Baskin

Effective Internal Communications is Everyone’s Responsibility

During a discovery interview last week, a senior executive noted that if the communications team was left to manage this particular communications initiative, the outcome of the project was going to be far too narrow. His point was that internal communications is a company-wide issue rather than the prerogative of a single department. And as Jocabim Mugatu so wisely allowed in Zoolander, “He’s exactly right!”

Effective communications inside a company is the responsibility of every executive, every manager and every employee – everyone has a role. It’s leadership’s responsibility to prioritize the importance of consistent and appropriately transparent communications as well as ensuring that information is properly cascaded throughout the company. It’s the responsibility of managers to interpret the communications and relay it to front line and non-desk employees. It’s everyone’s responsibility to act on the communications and provide feedback whenever necessary.

To get this done, though, the communications team is critically important. Their role is to support business communications that enable the company to be as productive as possible. To provide the most effective channels for communications. And to ensure that barriers to open communications are minimized.

It starts with a keen understanding of the vision and values of the company’s leadership. What is the company trying to achieve? How will they go about it? How will individual employees and teams achieve the company’s goals? What do employees need to know on a daily basis to in order achieve the goals?

When an initiative or a significant change is happening, the communications team should understand how the initiative affects various demographics throughout the company – from business leaders to front line sales to production floor employees. It’s rarely a one-size-fits-all conversation. While everyone doesn’t need to know everything, there should be a broad understanding of what the company is doing, and how the initiative helps achieve company goals. There should be an understanding of how employees’ individual roles contribute to the success of the initiative.

Communications channels are a key consideration and will likely be different based on the target audience and the type of message. There are a number of questions that should be answered. Do employees use computers for their work? Do they have access to the company intranet? Do they have a dedicated email address? Do they have mobile access? What are the realities of the work environment? How involved or complicated is the message? Knowledge of the effectiveness of various channels for different types of employees (and for different kinds of communications) will minimize communications roadblocks.

The tone and positioning of the message must be appropriate given the subject matter and audience. Is this a serious communication? Clearly, it’s not appropriate to be too terribly funny when messages might have a negative impact on employees’ livelihoods. However, there are many times when a novel channel approach or a witty headline might help the message get through to employees. Keep in mind that these communications have a lot of competition for mindshare – even in the work place.

Finally, we should ensure that the communication worked as intended. Many times this will be obvious based on the actions of employees. Other times, internal research is required to measure improvement to understand if the message or changes are taking place as intended.

So yes, the entire company is responsible for effective internal communications. Most often though, having a skilled communications professional on board will ensure that the communications work as planned. Tribe can help.

Stephen Burns

New apps from Jive Software

At Tribe, we’ve been fans of the enterprise social network, Jive for a while now. So we were very excited to hear that they announced a few new products to further drive employee engagement and communication. Going with the trend, these apps are increasingly focused on mobile capabilities. All in all, these seem like really useful resources and channels for employees to communicate with colleagues and management.

Jive Daily

Called “the app that gets the word out, sparks conversation and measures the impact”, Jive Daily aims to be a responsive, singular channel for sending out company announcements. The benefits of using Jive Daily over a more traditional announcement channel like email are immediately apparent. The app is ready to go right out of the box, it offers collaborative posting, targeted group messaging, live feedback and real time metrics, so you know you’re being heard.

Daily also allows employees to comment directly to specific correspondence, so it gets the dialogue going. It allows announcements to be sent to people on the go or in the office, and employees can customize their notifications, so they can get information in the way that works best for them.

Jive Chime

Chime brings chat functionality to the corporate world. By linking to the company directory, the app allows employees to have one-on-one or group chats with anyone in the organization without having to collect contact information. These conversations can be held on your computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone, and can be transferred between your devices without losing information.

As with Jive Daily, employees can fine-tune how they’re notified, so they aren’t bombarded with alerts in group settings. This added flexibility is a great feature for this generation of mobile apps.

Jive People

This app hasn’t hit the market yet, but when it does, we think it will be a real hit. Employee directories have really been left out in terms of new tech and upgrades. Jive People is out to right this injustice. With this app, employees will be able to access the company directory on the go, they can organize it into teams and favorites and it allows them to easily call, email or chat (presumably through Chime) people directly from the app.

Again, the biggest upgrade to the traditional directory is the ability to take it mobile. This increased interconnectivity and on-the-go capability will be crucial to the way your company works in the future, we can almost guarantee that.

Keep an eye out for these awesome new apps. We here at Tribe will certainly be keeping tabs on them and seeing how they perform once they’ve had a chance to be used out in the field. These are sleek, intuitive answers to a lot of issues we’ve been seeing lately, and we can’t wait to see how they change the market.


Stephen Burns

Finding the balance between human and technology

In a recent interview with imgZine, eBay’s Head of Strategic Communications Ben Matthews shared some insight into the company’s data-driven internal communications. What seems to differentiate Matthews from other industry leaders is his decidedly moderate view on technology. Where some IC specialists are leaning heavily, even relying, on technology to engage employees, Matthews maintains a pretty old-school approach.

The balance between personal engagement and technology is crucial but hard to strike. There’s no denying the many benefits of technology, and Matthews’ work at eBay reflects that. He uses survey metrics and analytics, amongst other tech, but these tactics are only in support of the most basic yet effective form of engagement: human interaction. Here are some more of Matthews’ thoughts on internal communications. You can check out the full interview here.

On his preferred IC channels:

“I am a huge believer in ‘simple and often’. Also, technology could depersonalize the experience and cause confusion. That’s why I’ve built a ‘face first’ model, which encourages leaders to have a weekly team meeting.”

On engagement surveys:

“My point is that it’s dangerous to use general engagement surveys in an interpretive manner… Also, why do businesses routinely sample customer metrics on a daily/weekly basis, but when it comes to a key business enabler like employees, only sample them once or twice a year?”

On functional metrics:

“Culture is a huge driver of engagement, yet businesses tend to only measure functional or rational engagement. Take the classic question, ‘would you recommend this business to a friend?’ Asking someone a largely hypothetical question in that way is likely to generate an overly positive response as people rationalize their reply. What businesses should be asking is, ‘have you recommended this business to a friend?’ That would generate a much better view as it shows how many colleagues have actioned a perception.”

Matthews will also be speaking at this years’ BOC Internal Communications Conference in London. You can find more information about that here.

Stephen Burns

A backup for your backup

If you’re a regular visitor to Tribe’s Good Company Blog, you may have noticed something a little different. No, we didn’t redecorate, but thanks for noticing. Actually, we were recently victim to a series of corrupt files that resulted in the loss of almost all of our blogs from 2014. Thankfully, we were able to find or recover a good chunk of them*. Well, I should say, my coworkers were able to recover some of their blogs. All of mine are gone.

I didn’t have a backup for my backup. Tribe does daily, monthly and weekly backups for the blog, but we had been backing up files that were slowly corrupting, unraveling and those damaged files were impossible to recover. My real problem was that I implicitly trusted one backup plan. A mistake that I’ll never make again. And I would suggest that you don’t either.

It’s risky for your company to rely on one communication channel. If you’re trying to push information to your employees, one channel just won’t cut it. You need a backup and a backup to your backup. If you’re trusting 100 managers to cascade a message, odds are, a few of them are going to skew the information or simply won’t relay it at all. That puts their employees at a serious disadvantage. Posting that information on the company intranet or putting it in the weekly newsletter will help to ensure the message is being delivered.

Employees also absorb information differently. It’s nice to give employees a choice when it comes to getting information. Certain employees may respond well to hearing a message from their manager. Others might prefer to read about it on their own on the intranet, while others may ignore virtual communications and only pay attention to print messaging, like a poster or table tent in the break room.

It’s crucial to cover all your bases. Communications may be going smoothly and employees may be responding well to one channel, but all it takes is one small tear in the system and the whole thing could collapse. Take it from me – get a backup plan. And a backup to your backup.

Need help finding or creating new communication channels? Give Tribe a call. We’d love to help.

* If you had a favorite blog that you don’t see up, let us know and we can write more on that topic.