Melcrum’s Strategic Communication Management Summit: Day One 2010


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Stock imagery of conference

For those that did attend or could not make it – here are some of the highlights from Day One at this years Melcrum SCM. If you want to keep up to speed throughout tomorrow check out #melcrumscm on Twitter!

Cascade Vs Dialogue
A main topic for the day – how do you get people talking in your organisation?

  • PricewaterhouseCooper talked about their leadership communities and the conference or forums they have behind closed doors. Their most recent event saw a change and they launched a microsite/blog called ‘One Conversation’ alongside the event – ever the sceptic they anticipated a few hundred subscribers, but in reality they got over 2,500. Proving that many people inside a business, no matter what level, have a thirst for information about who they work for and where the business is going
  • HSBC talked about moving employees from engaged to mobilised – challenging that you can have a very engaged workforce but if they are not mobilised in the right way then they could be doing more harm than good
  • Engagement isn’t good enough anymore. As demonstrated by Involve, you need involvement in the strategy and an emotional connection for it to encourage you to go over and above what you need to do in your job
  • Blurring the lines between internal and external communication – information can be used across both platforms and often external news can be used internally to reinforce the importance of a message

5 golden rules when preparing managers to lead or facilitate dialogue

  • This is a business challenge, not a communications challenge
  • Identify key stakeholders, get them in early and keep them close
  • One size does not fit all (another big theme for the day) especially if this is a global project. Flexibility is essential on content, technology and distribution
  • Focus on the process and culture first. Technology comes later
  • Measurement is critical for effectiveness and credibility.

Employee Surveys
This came up early on in the day with PricewaterhouseCooper commenting on doing them twice a year in the Keynote session. Another speaker later mentioned it was every six months and it made me wonder just how often other companies do this? I’m sure it is on the agenda of every internal communicator – or does it sit more with HR?

This also begged the question about ‘survey fatigue’ and how you avoid that when you constantly seek feedback. Answers from the panel included making sure your audience know you will do something with the feedback and further responses from Twitter were:

  • Restrict your survey to a single question and do it more often (via J0N1)
  • Value return, give a little to get a little (ellisa31)

How to calculate ROI on employee engagement
(Pearson Education)

Now I never profess to be one with numbers, and this was a hard one to get your head around but the overview was quite simple and there were five key points to take away from it:

  1. Establish levels of engagement through a survey
  2. Find out the business KPIs such as sickness, turnover, performance
  3. Look at the correlation between them. In almost all cases you will see a direct link between engagement, performance, sickness absence and employee turnover
  4. Identify upper quartile KPI – the gap is the saving you can make through effective comms
  5. Introduce ‘engagement interventions’: aligning people to the organisation’s vision, reward and recognition, health and wellbeing, recruitment and retention, internal communications, leadership, combined approach strategy.

 CIPD were quoted throughout and apparently have a collection of case studies to support the correlation point.

Some good thoughts throughout the day…

  • Smiling people is not an effective return for the CEO or MD when it comes to internal comms and ROI
  • Measuring your online system using hits? Suggestion that HITS is actually an acronym for How Idiots Track Success
  • Engaging frontline employees is the hardest part when it comes to change communication
  • Which communication channel engages people in change? Over two-thirds selected leadership (Towers Perrin research)
  • Ask the board how they prefer to communicate and help them use the platform. Some may want to blog, others tweet and some face to face. Use their style with them and find a way to get them talking
  • Getting employees to do video diaries during change can provide a credible way of communicating. At MAERSK people watched their peers go through the curve and made it real for everyone.

So after a day immersed in internal comms this all made me think about what is really feasible and how you get the walls to fall down…

  • Would the CEO of your business take part in a ‘brown paper bag lunch’ and take notes from what his colleagues talk about? Would they have the time to engage in dialogue and is cascade the easiest answer?
  • Does dialogue still have the same issues as cascade or will it open the door to peer-to-peer communication and therefore encourage a more online approach where appropriate?
  • MAERSK did a fantastic presentation about engaging a workforce during change, but they discount a huge 6,000 employees at sea in their employee figures and the Head of Comms admitted it is a challenge they haven’t yet overcome
  • How much can internal communicators take credit for when it comes to ROI – what about the other functions and how many of us would go into an FD’s office and say “I will save you half a million pounds with effective communication”?

I welcome your thoughts and comments…

Day two overview

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