Oct 4, 2010

Employee Advocates for Employee Communications

A segment of a social networkImage via WikipediaOne of the oft-ignored aspect of employee engagement is employee communication. Organizations just don't treat it as priority. I asked this question on my facebook page - and three people have answered yes to the question I posed so far.
So why is that the case?
Primarily it is because employee communication is not thought of as a discipline by HR professionals as external communications is thought of by the Marketing professionals. Most HR communications are restricted to garishly colored emails with 20 size font letters. Or managers are expected to do the bulk of the communications to their supervisors - and we know how that goes.
The question needs to be rethought - and organizations need to look at their employees as an internal community they need to "converse with" and not to "talk/sell to".
So here's my free advice to organizations on how to better "communicate with employees"
  1. Listen. Give tools to your employees to make them heard. Use ideation platforms, question and answers, wikis, internal blogs for employees to connect with each other. Figure out what has their attention and time.
  2. Acknowledge. When someone contributes a great idea - borrow it and give him/her credit. Make that employee an owner of that idea and support him/her to implement it. The same away acknowledge the employees who contribute answers and contribute to building the knowledge base.
  3. Understand. With the data generated in the first two steps organizations can figure out (using Thomas Gladwell's Tipping point lingo) who are the mavens, connectors and salesmen. This would be possible using Social Network Analysis tools.
  4. Engage. Using the data from the above step organizations should figure out the highly engaged employees who are mavens, connectors and salesmen and empower them as internal advocates (using the methodology of social influence marketing) 
The thought behind this method of employee communication is that influential employees would be trusted and co-creating a message along with them would be a better way to communicate than just using posters and emails that are likely to be ignored by employees.

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