Scott McKenzie's Collective Conversation Blog » employees http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie Fri, 01 Jun 2012 10:48:08 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 A slow, lingering death http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2012/04/27/a-slow-lingering-death/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2012/04/27/a-slow-lingering-death/#comments Fri, 27 Apr 2012 15:54:14 +0000 Scott McKenzie http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/?p=486

What lessons can you share about engaging people through a crisis?

It’s a great question. Put to me by a colleague in the last 24 hours.

The economic downturn has thrown up plenty of businesses lurching from one crisis to another. Where the very survival of the organisation is in question. Anyone following the dire events surrounding Rangers Football Club will recognise this. This is an institution which is nearly 150 years old and part of the fabric of Scottish society. In many ways it is far more than a business – for many it represents a sense of identity, of shared heritage, relecting a huge community within Scotland and Northern Ireland. For transparency’s sake I should point out that my allegiances are with the other big Glasgow club. But I have watched with a sense of wonder as a decade of financial mis-management catches up with Rangers. Mis-management is perhaps generous. Terms like tax avoidance, cheating or financial doping have been (more appropriately) used.

In any event it is the supporters who are paying for it now.

As someone with no real emotional involvement I have wondered how Rangers players, staff and supporters would react to what has been a particularly grim and relentless stream of bad news. It has been a mixed picture.

Some have howled at the moon. Denying the very facts being put in front of them. Refusing to accept the reality – lashing out at the authorities who have simply tried to apply the rules in very difficult circumstances. In some instances disgracefully threatening individuals and their families.

Some supporters have gamely tried to raise money to plug the holes in the finances. Yet the estimated £134m liability make any attempts in this regard feel pathetically futile.

And yet others have responded with incredible dignity. Most notably the players - who have accepted draconian short-term pay cuts in order to see the club through to the end of the season. While I will never have more than a grudging respect for Rangers, I have been impressed by how some of the players have carried themselves, and indeed, how they have performed at a time of incredible adversity. What more evidence do you need that engagement is about far more than money?

And so the future of Rangers remains in doubt. The much criticised mainstream media in Scotland have tried hard to paint a variety of positive pictures on the future of the club. None have stuck. None have had any credibility. So far… (perhaps this latest news will be different).

So in answer to the original question – I think many lessons can be drawn from this crisis. Without a powerful, shared vision for the future, without strong leaders, without the ongoing engagement of the players who have so loyally stuck to their task, and indeed without any money, it is hard to see what future the club has. Whatever happens the reputation of this veritable institution has been altered for good.

Indeed it is hard to assess whether we are witnessing the reputation of Rangers Football Club at its lowest ebb. Or watching the unfolding of a painful, slow, lingering death.

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The perils of embracing technology http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/08/02/the-perils-of-embracing-technology/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/08/02/the-perils-of-embracing-technology/#comments Tue, 02 Aug 2011 17:18:09 +0000 Scott McKenzie http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/?p=419

This is a guest post by John Tilbrook, consultant in Hill & Knowlton’s Change & Internal Communications practice

This is the first blog I’ve ever written and it’s taken some time for me to get my act together and write it. You see, I’m one of those ‘too old for my age’ young kids who sits on the suspicious side of the technology divide.

In fact my boss Scott, whose blog this is, constantly reminds me that I’m a Luddite and while I always remonstrate (at the same time feeling secretly proud that I know what a Luddite is), he probably is partly right… and he certainly has more followers on Twitter… whatever that means!

So you’ll probably expect me to agree with the 31% of companies that still block employees from using social media such as Facebook and YouTube at work.

Well actually, no.

Once described as recreational, these technologies are now considered to be important business tools for companies. But for me, from an internal communications perspective, it’s more than this.

I think companies should be encouraging the use of social media. Firstly, it shows employees that you trust them. Secondly, it allows them freedom to share their views – which transcend your corporate image – on what the company stands for, its products and its services, which will inevitably result in better customer interaction, more customers and business results.

In fact, as David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan state in the book ‘Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead’, your trust in employees will be rewarded as they build followings who will eventually buy your products or services.

So why not let employees guest blog on your company website, tweet about your products or contribute to your company Facebook page? You should probably put some guidelines in place, so they know what they are doing, but leave it at that.

Ok, they might do something wrong, but if they do, own up and move on. Your customers will respect this more than an attempted cover up. Embrace technology and you’ll find it has mutual benefits to your employees and your company.

We’ll see, this may be the last blog I’m ever asked to write, but I’m learning… I’ve even just joined LinkedIn. I may not be playing Angry Birds all day long, but at least I’m not smashing up computers either.

John Tilbrook, Consultant, Change & Internal Communications, Hill & Knowlton

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Connecting employees with your sponsorship http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/06/20/connecting-employees-with-your-sponsorship/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/06/20/connecting-employees-with-your-sponsorship/#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2011 15:15:07 +0000 Scott McKenzie http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/?p=390

So Budweiser are now going to sponsor the FA Cup. One iconic US brand sponsors an equally iconic brand synonymous with England.

My colleague Andy Sutherden makes some great points about this deal which you can see here.

The deal certainly looks a little incongruous at first glance. And I wondered how Anheuser-Busch are going to explain it to their employees.

I know Andy is equally passionate about the role employees can play in effective sponsorships. But often they are not front of mind when brands are making decisions  around investing in a sponsorship property.

However, it was certainly front of mind for the panel discussion we hosted here at H&K last week. Thanks to those of you who braved the inclement weather to get along. I hope you found it worthwhile.

For those of you not able to join us, we were fortunate to have three great panellists Louisa Cheetham from Aviva, Morag Taylor, from British Gas and David Stubley from Soho Partners.

The case studies Morag and Louisa presented were incredibly impressive and persuasive.

It’s clear that Aviva makes incredible use of their vasy array of sponsorship properties to engage employees. From the use of access to events (providing employees with tickets), to call centre visits from athletes, to the creating experiences that money just can’t buy as incentives… you can see the vast potential in using sponsorship as a lever to connect employees with the brand.

Similarly I was struck by how effectively British Gas had tapped into their partnership with British Swimming. They have worked hard to get employees in the pool as part of a health and wellbeing agenda. This included inter-company swim galas, the establishment of a community of interest (essentially swim champions)  as well as local events targeted at employee’s friends and family.  I thought this was  relaly, really great. The idea of British Gas providing something that actively engages the families of employees with what British Gas is about as company really works for me.

I think of my own growing family and wonder if they know why I choose to invest the effort I do at work… Anything which helps bridge that work/life balance divide is surely worth exploring?

But is this just me being soft and fluffy?

I don’t think so. We have long know the power of “word of mouth”… even before we had some of the fruitless, recent debates about measuring the effectiveness of employee engagement.

Indeed when I look at employee engagement surveys I tend to ignore most of the questions (some critics would say ignore all of them!). But the one I always seek out is the question around whether you would “recommend this as a good place to work to your friends and family”. This score – sometimes known as the “net promoter score” – really tells you whether an organisation has employees who are engaged, who are proud and who are committed to the organisation.

So, can we we connect sponsorship to engaging employees? Yes. And can we use this engagement to drive pride and productivity. Absolutely.

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Redesign backlash: Website vs. Intranet http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/03/22/redesign-backlash-website-vs-intranet/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/03/22/redesign-backlash-website-vs-intranet/#comments Tue, 22 Mar 2011 17:22:02 +0000 Scott McKenzie http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/?p=311 What do Gawker Media and Digg have in common? Loyal customers turned furious users. 

An article in The Independent today discussed the ‘battle between users and developers’ when redesigning websites.

 It showed the customer backlash following Digg’s redesign, 2,500 predominantly furious comments on an employee blog post; and Gawker Media’s redesign was similarly disastrous. It saw a 50% slump in visits to its flagship blog. That’s a significant loss of support.

 This prompted me to think about intranets.

 Redesigning a website is not too dissimilar a process to redesigning an intranet. However, if change is to be successful inside an organisation, employees need to be engaged from the beginning.

 So how can we get employees on board?

  • Understand the desire for change – run a survey; find out what, if any, changes employees want 
  • Involve employees in the design – communicate what changes you plan to make, use employee polls to find out the favourite design concepts, run a competition to choose the intranet name, invite employees to test the new site pre-launch
  • Keep in touch post launch – make it easy for employees to get in touch, keep them updated on future improvements

 One thing to remember is that every user experience is different.

 We are never going to please everyone when launching a new intranet – or website as Digg and Gawker Media have shown. However, by engaging employees from the start we should be able to please the majority and satisfy the rest. 

 I’d be interested to know whether Digg or Gawker Media spoke to their customers first.

This was a guest blog by Naomi Goodman, who is a consultant in H&K’s Change & Internal Communications practice.

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Killing engagement. Post script. http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/03/16/killing-engagement-post-script/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/03/16/killing-engagement-post-script/#comments Wed, 16 Mar 2011 12:01:13 +0000 Scott McKenzie http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/?p=305 I think Employee Engagement is still breathing this morning.

Last night’s debate at the offices of Baker Tilly helped highlight the fundamental issues at stake.

1. Should we be approaching engagement from a starting point of great HR  systems and processes , or is more about how we build more meaningful, emotional “connections”,

2. Can employee engagement be explicity linked to business results, and even if it can, should it be?

3. Do leaders genuinely want to engage their people? And if they do – do employees really want to be engaged by their Chief Executive as opposed to their line manager?

The panel wrestled with these questions and many more. It seems to me that these are serious questions that deserve more discussion, more insight, more analysis.

My tuppence worth is this: there is a risk that this debate gets stuck on the fringes. We must avoid taking a deeply entrenched position.

For example, are we genuinely saying that we should not have good performance management systems in place? Or that building an emotional connection with employees has no bearing on business results?

We need to be careful that in the midst of heated debate and passionate rhetoric we make some false choices.  It seems to me that there was a lot of expert insight on the panel last night, but not a lot of listening and learning from each other’s viewpoint.

In my view that’s one of the most important elements of engagement. Let’s make sure we do more of it.

Finally, a big thank you to Matt and the team for making the debate happen.

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