Melcrum’s “What Does the Future Hold for Internal Communication?”

May 10, 2011…IABC-LA held an exclusive event “What Does the Future Hold for Internal Communication?” for 25 participants presented by Melcrum’s Strategic Communication Research Forum.  Melcrum is an internal communications company dedicated to offering domestic and global clients comprehensive body of knowledge of best practices, toolkits and research on every level of internal communication.  Jeff Hostler, Melcrum Vice President Research and Content, presented some eye-opening research such as “people don’t leave companies, people leave managers of companies.”  Jeff was accompanied by Melcrum’s Key Accounts Executive, Mike Dombo. Mike briefly described  Melcrum’s Black Belt Program which sets the standard for internal comms globally and the basis for research data presented during the evening.

IABC-LA Social Media Chair dynamo, Rebecca Mikkelsen, introduced Jeff Hostler who led us through a discussion starting with the post-recessional environment. Companies must rebuild trust and re-engineer respective employee value propositions.  Later, Jeff covered corporate structure and management style, roles and responsibilities, partnerships, technology, research and measurement and more with an emphasis on outcomes, not just outputs.
 
• Companies must take into account how four cross-generational groups of employees must interact and communicate with each other…and then think globally, culturally as well.

• The great challenge of evolving internal communications, no longer just a function “sitting on the side of the desk.”  Developing processes to support trust and transparency as well as sustainability is a key factor.

•  Building 10% more trust equates to 36% more pay increases for employees.  Now that’s positive!

Jeff also discussed partnerships and the importance of ensuring consistency across channels and stakeholders, as well how execs can foster trust without just pushing info out. 

On the topic of technology, Jeff purposely did not discuss social media in-depth, yet stressed connecting with local IT to collaborate on defined goals.  Too many internal comms departments put the FaceBook horse before the business strategies cart, without first evaluating whether specific social media is applicable.  Business priorities must lead over choosing tech methods. That said, too many companies also negated employees’ social media use by banning use during work hours, only to discover employees have smart phones in their purses and pockets to access social media anyway. 

Jeff also covered research and measurement and again, emphasized how important it was to measure outcomes not output.  It is internal comms responsibility to prove the value of a specific suggested strategy, which does require extra work time.  It’s not enough to know that 4,000 employees actually read an email (output)…how did they act on it (outcome)?   Company internal comms mistake survey answers from employees who state they understand a company’s business goals, yet that’s not a measurement…how do the actions of the employees support the business goals?

There were some excellent feedback and suggestions from our savvy participants providing terrific takeaways for everyone.  Chris Cabrera of Southern California Edison described a truly innovative employee resource group at SCE supporting SCE’s employee value proposition.
 
Big Thanks to the incomparable Gail Herring and Toyota for hosting the event.  Gail also serves on the chapter board as Treasurer.  Participants were also very appreciative to meet and hear experts Jeff Hostler and Mike Dombo of Melcrum, and to partner with Melcrum on senior internal communications events.

Please see video posted on YouTube at http://youtu.be/b54ZNZ9X5cI

March 25 Event: Embracing Social Media – Why, When & How?

March 25, 2008, Woodland Hills, Maggiano’s Restaurant.
Speaker: Terry McKenzie, Senior Director of GECCO (Global Employee Communications and Communities Organization) at Sun Microsystems,Ltd.

Download the presentation materials

After a bit of networking and breakfast, Terry began to tell us the story of the transformation she’s been spearheading at Sun over the last 15 months. I know I’ll never be able to capture everything she said and all the great insights, but I’ll get down a few, and you all can add more in the comments!

At the beginning of 2007, CEO Jonathan Schwartz told Terry that while communications were interesting, communities were absolutely vital to Sun. His challenge to Employee Communications was to go out and create communities internally. Less than a year later, there has been a huge shift as a result of this work.

This has been one of the primary rockets behind their shift from a communications environment revolving around information whether in email, intranet, town halls, or podcasts (info overload was primary complaint of employees) to an environment revolving around collaborative communities – whether it be in wikis, blogs, virtual townhalls and conferences, or Facebook.

At the moment Sun has about 4,000 employee blogs (all external – http://blogs.sun.com) and 5,500 employees on Facebook. Most have begun in the last 15 months.

The culture shift which has accompanied all of this is striking. According to Terry in 205 the culture was:

  1. Kick butt and have fun
  2. “You aren’t the boss of me”
  3. We’re right – rest of the world is wrong (couldn’t take criticism)
  4. Personality cult around CEO

Now, there has been a lot of maturing:

  1. “Let’s just imagine, for one minute that the analysts are right and we do suck…”
  2. Accountability
  3. Teamwork
  4. Adult to Adult
  5. Transparency, courage, authenticity highly valued

Some of the other great thoughts from this presentation were:

1. Everything Always in Beta: experiment with what’s out there, keep what works, and discard what doesn’t.

2. Corollary: Focus on the outcomes and results your after, not the tools themselves. Tools will always be changing. It’s what they enable that needs to be the focus.

3. Sun is developing a new intranet (2010) which will be 90% customizable, 10% fixed, to enable employees to create their own work experience and optimize the information and tools that they need. Accessible by any device (PC, cellphone, pda, etc) and top levels outside the firewall.
4. It’s silly to block Facebook or other sites to stop staff from ‘wasting’ time. They do this in other ways now (personal email, phone calls, etc.) It’s a Management issue if someone is unproductive.

5. Blogs must be interesting, well-written, authentic and cannot be ghostwritten.

6. Blogs can be a great way to find out what people are thinking. They talk about it anyway around the watercooler, at lunch, with friends. Why not capture their conversations in a blog rather than try and guess what’s going on.

If you were one of the 31 people who attended, what main points did you take away? Please comment below!