Three ways employee communications can be more strategic

Most groups want to be strategic, but we often make assumptions about what that might look like. I addressed the topic of strategic communications at a high level in one of my recent posts.


This time, I want to be more specific about the tactics of strategy. What can employee communications specifically do to be more strategic, support change and help drive better business outcomes?


Studies in simplicity: Microgoals

Big and complicated problems often generate big, complex solutions. Ken Segall puts it very well in his book, Think Simple, when he writes, “It’s in our DNA to prefer simpler things, yet we so often open the door to complexity. That’s because being complicated is easy. Making things simpler is the more challenging task.”


If you want to do one thing today that will greatly increase your chance of success on any project, personal or business, do the hard work up front to make it simpler.



Four signs your communication cascade won’t work

Many people think of a top-down communication cascade as their go-to method for communicating important changes. A communication cascade begins when executive leaders take a set of messages to their staff meetings. Attendees are supposed to carry the same messages to their staff meetings and so forth, until theoretically every employee has received the information.


At most companies, and especially those that have not invested significantly in developing managers and leadership, the disadvantages of a cascade often outweigh the benefits. Don’t take it from me. The next time you plan a large-scale communication cascade, look for the following signs as indications that your critical information may not reach your audience with impact.


By | July 18th, 2016|change management, internal communications|0 Comments

Trust and consequences

If you are looking for a way to differentiate your company in a way that competitors will find it hard to emulate, look no further than the level of trust you have with your employees.


Imagine two CEOs looking at efforts that will bring significant changes to their employees. The cost of health has been increasing annually at double the rate of inflation. This year something has to give: employee premiums are going up substantially, the old HMO standby is going away, and a financially significant wellness incentive is in the works.



By | July 12th, 2016|benefits, change management, internal communications|0 Comments

Falls or infections: The courage of simplicity

Several people have asked me for more specific stories about the points I discuss here. Here is an interesting experience that highlights the importance of simplicity and prioritizing in effective change efforts.


A hospital had just engaged me that in recent months had seen an increase in patient falls. Hospital leadership was highly stressed. Middle managers were trapped between competing and conflicting executive demands and a tired and somewhat demoralized staff.


By | July 7th, 2016|change management, hospital & health care|0 Comments

Three misconceptions about change

Experts from the Harvard Business Review to IBM to Forbes/Towers Watson agree that change programs are successful about 25 percent of the time. It follows that if you are doing what everyone else is doing, you can expect to fail 75 percent of the time.


So what are some of the biggest misconceptions about change? Here are three tips to help you zig where others zag. Put yourself in the happy minority of companies that consistently introduce effective change.



Attention is a resource

For the past few years, a Microsoft Canada Consumer Insights Report has made the media rounds claiming that the average human attention span has declined from 12 seconds in 2000 to about 8 seconds in 2013, compared to 9 seconds for goldfish.


There are many implications to this work that are lost in the second-hand reporting, and I would encourage anyone to read the core study. For our purposes, though, I think it brings to the forefront that attention is a resource, and a highly limited one at that.



By | June 22nd, 2016|change management, internal communications|0 Comments

The human factor

We focus on finding solutions to our problems, but sometimes the bigger challenge is choosing the right problem to solve. Sports like basketball make it easy — score points and the team with the most wins. Business and life, on the other hand, are much harder. You can spend decades scoring baskets only to find out that rebounds are what mattered … or time of possession … or total electrolytes consumed.


When we look at widely admired leaders, we often find people who have an unshakeable sense of the problem they were solving. It guides them, tells them when to compromise, when to be radical and when to be unyielding despite the odds.



Change is personal

I have worked with many change experts over the years, collaborating to bring effective communication practices to their differing methodologies.


I especially remember a man who visited our organization with his entourage every few months. He projected authority and conducted direct conversations with our executive team about “alignment” and “accountability.”


Early on, I read his introductory book on change and found some value in it. In particular, my wife and I were having a minor disagreement about how to handle a situation with our daughter. I used an idea from the book to help me approach it with her more constructively, and I decided to share the experience.



By | May 24th, 2016|change communications, change management|0 Comments

The conflict inherent to change

You may at some point have seen a version of the Change Acceptance curve. People process change in very similar ways along a path that, when it works, takes them from status quo levels of satisfaction through denial, resistance, exploration, hope and commitment.


Interestingly, this maps pretty neatly to the stages of grief: denial & isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. One useful filter for change management is to view it as a way to help people move through their grief about why things cannot “be like they always were before.”


By | May 19th, 2016|change management, internal communications|0 Comments