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.
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.
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.
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.
In 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.”
This article continues last week’s about the increasing need for year-round benefits open enrollment communications. This week our focus is on the finances of benefits elections with emphasis on incentives and taxes. Here are a few reasons why communicating once a year in the Fall may no longer be enough:
Open enrollment communications used to happen annually. Not any longer. Changes to health care have turned benefits communications into year-round campaigns with heavy education and training components.
In addition to health benefits enrollment communications that traditionally happen between September and November, there are now good reasons to plan separate but related campaigns in December/January, in March/April, and in May/June.
What is the dollar investment of one all-hands employee meeting? Forget the logistics: the venue, support staff, communications, and other costs. For a minute, just consider the salaries involved.
Assume 10,000 employees making an average of $50,000 per year, or about $24 per hour. For a two hour meeting (with 30 minutes of additional time for employees to show up and then get back to their desks): 24 times 10,000 times 2.5 is $60,000.
Information overload is at this moment harming the productivity and competitiveness of your business.
A 2009 Harvard Business Review article by Paul Hemp references research on “the surging volume of available information… [that] can adversely affect not only personal well-being but also decision making, innovation, and productivity. In one study… people took an average of nearly 25 minutes to return to a work task after an e-mail interruption.”