internal communications

The Crimson Sphere: A short allegory

Janet, a director at ENCompetent Inc., summons Max to her office one morning. Max, a frontline manager, arrives at the door but he can hardly see Janet because she is working behind a giant red exercise ball that takes up most of the space on her desk.


“What’s with the red ball?” Max asks.



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

Make your messages actionable (starting now)

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.”


By | August 11th, 2016|change communications, internal communications|0 Comments

Communication volumes could be killing your business

aaeaaqaaaaaaaajmaaaajgzizdhhnmriltc0odmtnduwzi05ytkzltvknjnmnmjly2i5nqIn the book, Leading Change, John Kotter identifies “a failure to communicate” as one of the major factors causing low success rates among corporate change initiatives. He estimates that in one month:

  • the total amount of communication reaching the average employee is roughly 2.3 million words or numbers
  • the typical communication of a change effort is approximately 13,400 words

It follows that the average change communication effort will capture what he calls “information market share” of about .6 percent (13,400 divided by 2.3 million) per month relative to every other company-related piece of content.



By | August 8th, 2016|change communications, internal communications|0 Comments

Managers are the fulcrum for successful change

Frontline managers are the center of activity for companies — where grand strategy becomes practical activity. They also establish your organization’s most nuclear bond of trust. Employees generally turn to their immediate supervisor, not just for messaging content, but also for tone: Is this really going to work? Should we take this initiative seriously? Do we have a reason to worry?



By | August 1st, 2016|change communications, internal communications|0 Comments

Drowning in randomness

There is a well-known photo of Lego people pushing a cart with square wheels. An observer stands to one side holding a set of round ones, while his laboring peers respond, “No thanks. We are too busy.”


Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a veteran trader and thoughtful essayist. In his book, Fooled by Randomness, he observes that, “Trading forces someone to think hard; those who merely work hard generally lose their focus and intellectual energy. In addition, they end up drowning in randomness [in ways that]… draw people to focus on noise rather than the signal.”



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

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.