Kip

About Kip Soteres

Kip Soteres is a thought leader and change communications expert with 20 years of experience in high-tech, banking and health care industries. In that time, he has won Gold Quill and Silver Anvil awards from the International Association of Business Communicators and the Public Relations Society of America for change communications targeting large employee populations.

Campfire tales in the breakroom – 3 ways to tap emotions for success in the face of business changes

Data and reason initiate most significant business changes, but it takes an emotional connection to carry them through to completion.

 

Change typically begins when a set of experts analyze business performance and conclude that the organization needs to become more competitive, innovative, cost-effective, safe, quality-conscious, or customer oriented in some combination and order of priority. Leaders evaluate those needs and translate them into activities that introduce change to employees.

 

In brief, companies use facts X to establish initiative Y in order to achieve result Z. The surprise in change management is how often we do the work of Y without getting the result Z. One of the biggest reasons for this disconnect is the organizational discomfort and skepticism around engaging employees through their emotions, especially in times of big change.

 

The brain science is conclusive. Emotions are as factual and relevant to your implementation as the economic data you used to identify challenges and initiate change in the first place.

 

Leverage emotions to create business success
The bottom line is that reason put you on the path, but emotions are the only way to reach your destination. Here are a few ways that you can account for emotions in your change effort and greatly increase your chance of success:

 

* Reinforce community rituals: Shared activity is shown to produce harmonizing feelings among participants, whether it’s an aerobics class or a prayer service. They also provide a kind of regularity that is comforting and predictable and that lends itself to endurance and resilience.

 

It’s odd that many companies don’t want to talk about ritual. It’s already there and happening in good institutions with strong positive cultures, but it is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. You see it in hospitals when the nurses conduct their pre-shift huddle, or when service representatives have their morning debrief in the call center.

 

* Invite, capture and share stories: Stories are the living vehicles for our values and behaviors. They introduce elements of emotion and ritual into otherwise sterile corporate initiatives in ways that bring them to life and make them more authentic, compelling and memorable.

Stories have the added benefit of bringing employee voices to bear on the corporate activity. Their involvement in the discussion brings energy and new ideas to the effort while at the same time encouraging acceptance of the change.

 

* Remind people of their better selves: when initiating change, it can seem natural to “brace” and prepare employees for tough times. There is some value in this and it is always important to avoid being overly optimistic in ways that might threaten your credibility when things really do get tough.

 

That said, the work of Dan Ariely and others shows that one of the better ways to get people to behave more altruistically is to remind them of their morality. Staying positive has the additional effect of keeping people inside the circle. Perceived negativity and criticism will eventually alienate employees. If you lose their good will, you will have substantially damaged any chances of success, and rebuilding trust is a long, slow and expensive process.

By | October 25th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The disengagement of engagement: There’s a monster outside my window

Engagement surveys, done badly, can be disengaging for employees. If your response rates are declining, if news of an approaching survey creates dread among employees or if informal company conversations don’t match up to survey results, your engagement survey may be part of the problem.

 

Soteres Consulting has been involved in communicating engagement survey results at dozens of organizations. This is the third of three blogs examining some common engagement survey challenges, specifically:

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By | November 29th, 2016|employee engagement, internal communications|0 Comments

The disengagement of engagement: Please, give us more work to do

Sometimes the most disengaging thing a company can do is a badly executed engagement survey. If your company has to push harder with every survey to get the same response rate, if the water cooler talk does not match up to the survey results, if news of an approaching survey creates dread among employees, your engagement survey may be part of the problem.

 

Soteres Consulting has been involved in communicating engagement survey results at dozens of organizations. This is the second of three blogs that look at common dysfunctions of engagement surveys, with a few notes on how better communications can lead to better outcomes.

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By | November 15th, 2016|employee engagement, internal communications|0 Comments

The disengagement of engagement: Is the survey your biggest problem?

Sometimes the most disengaging thing a company does is its engagement survey. If your company has to push harder with every survey to get the same response rate, if the water cooler talk does not match up to survey results, if news of an approaching survey creates a sense of dread, it may be that your engagement survey is starting to be part of the problem.

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By | November 10th, 2016|employee engagement, internal communications|0 Comments

Where’s the click? Of Steve Jobs, headphones, iPods and endings

aaeaaqaaaaaaaak_aaaajguzogy4mju5lwvkotytngyymc04zgu2ltzjotczody4ytrkygI’ve been blogging a lot lately about the importance of endings. As part of my research, I came across an interesting, possibly apocryphal story about Steve Jobs that I thought was interesting. It goes something like this:

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By | November 3rd, 2016|change communications, internal communications|0 Comments

Finish first (Part 2)

Businesses lift many working metaphors from sports and political campaigns because both these spheres are compelling and dramatic. What gives sports and politics their drama is precisely what many businesses fail to incorporate: clear scoring and defined, unambiguous endings.

 

Sports clocks count down. The buzzer sounds. The polling booth closes. We assess results and celebrate or mourn accordingly.

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By | November 1st, 2016|change communications, corporate events|0 Comments

Finish first (Part 1)

I went to two conventions last week: the IABC Regional Heritage Conference in Columbus, OH and the PHRA Annual Conference in Pittsburgh. At both venues I had the opportunity to hear smart and experienced people talk on trending topics in HR and communications.

 

Karen Hough’s presentation has stuck me particularly. She was energizing, relevant and insightful – highly recommended for any of you who are looking for speakers. Her book, “The Improvisation Edge,” has some brilliant insights into how to make organizations more innovative and creative. At the root is the implicit trust required for improvisation and the way that professional improvisers structure their interactions to encourage trust and creativity.

 

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By | October 25th, 2016|change communications, corporate events|0 Comments

Benefits may be the most strategic thing you ever communicate

Your internal communications play a powerful role in defining the relationship that you have with your employees. Every email that you send introduces employees to choices about how far they will trust your words and accept them.

 

The tone and style of our communications accumulate and help shape … or distort … the quality of the relationship between people and their employers. It follows that employees will read more carefully and weigh more heavily those communications that are more directly relevant to them.

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By | October 17th, 2016|benefits, change communications, internal communications|0 Comments

Doing change differently — don’t drop your outliers

Companies struggle with status quo thinking and behaviors. The larger the organization, the stronger these static forces become. One of the more common status quo behaviors is the question: “What are other people doing?”

 

Decision-makers have good reasons for asking what others have done. For one thing, it keeps outcomes safely in the center of the bell curve. Doing what others have done is less likely to produce an outlier result one way or the other – for better or for worse. While herd decisions may protect you temporarily from disastrous outcomes, they also create institutional inertia that can keep you from positive windfalls and inspiring triumphs.

 

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By | October 4th, 2016|change communications, internal communications|0 Comments

Fear and overload

aaeaaqaaaaaaaac3aaaajdflnjm3ntjllwm3ytetngezmc04zjaxltvkyzqyngixzjrkmaIn The Signal and the Noise Nate Silver correlates exponential growth in information with periods of violence and unrest. In his words, “The amount of information was increasing much more rapidly than our understanding of what to do with it, or our ability to differentiate the useful information from the mistruths.”

 

Silver adds, “The instinctual shortcut that we take when we have too much information is to engage with it selectively, picking out the parts we like and ignoring the remainder, making allies with those who have made the same choices and enemies of the rest.”

 

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By | September 21st, 2016|change communications, internal communications|0 Comments