How IC it

What I like in the world of internal communications and employee engagement.

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

The seven deadly sins of measurement

I’ve been judging awards recently and measurement seems still to be the holy grail, with some teams really hot on measurement and evaluation of their efforts and others either not measuring at all or looking through only a limited lens. Got me thinking about the perils and pitfalls of this hot topic, so here are my Seven Deadly Sins of Measurement.  How many are you guilty of?

1. Not measuring at all

Let’s start with the obvious. You’re busy. Your team are busy. Look at us! We’re so in demand! We’re in that meeting… working up that campaign… writing that email… Why? What for? Who’s reading it? If you don’t measure your activity, you’re a busy fool. You don’t know the right place to spend your blood, sweat and tears – and busy does not a business case make or protect you when the restructure axe comes swinging.

2. Measuring the wrong thing

All measurement is equal, right? Not so. Have you agreed with your stakeholder the outcomes of the project you’re supporting? That’s what you should be measuring. I use an ‘engagement curve’ to plot agreed outcomes along the comms journey – from awareness and understanding through to buy-in, commitment and ownership (where people start to take action). It shows me what I should be measuring at each stage of a comms plan. It’s no good showing that 1,500 people have read your beautifully-crafted intranet article if nobody is actually following the new way of claiming expenses.

3. Hits or hearts?

Your vital statistics – hit rates, viewing figures and downloads of documents – are a good indication of your awareness waistline. And for some projects, getting people to awareness or understanding is plenty. For others, though, your business is looking for a change of behaviour. That requires hearts as well as minds, habits rather than hit rates.

4. Keeping your successes to yourself

It’s tempting to put all the comms planning effort into the early stages. We build a detailed comms plan and map out every step of delivery. We burn the midnight oil over the campaign materials. The project doesn’t end when the posters come down. A project closedown report is as vital as the start-up plan. Make sure you present back to your stakeholders at every step of the way and certainly at the end of the campaign to show how your comms have met their objectives. It can hardly be a bad thing if you can include some of your impressive achievements in your own performance review… Oh stop, you’re making us blush.

5. Doing what you’ve always done

The great advantage of measuring at every step is that you’ll soon pick up if things aren’t taking you where you need to be. Listen to the jungle drums and be prepared to adapt or bolster your comms approach. Chances are your messages aren’t getting through if the HR mailbox is bursting with questions about the new policy, the programme office is taking calls from directors about the impact on customers, or line managers are beseiged by worried colleagues who have heard a rumour. Don’t stick unswervingly to ‘Plan A’ when the insight tells you a detour is needed.

6. Beware data distrust

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve presented the results of the satisfaction survey to senior managers who have dismissed the findings because we didn’t ask enough people… or because Site X has a negative culture… or Team B have just had a change of manager. Agree upfront what a credible representative sample will be. Work with your stakeholders in the early days to explain what they can expect from the findings. After all, once you hit a certain response rate, you’ve captured all views and anything else is duplicating.

7. Treating IC as a nice to have, not a risk management tool

This comes down to the ‘why are we here?’ question. Done well, internal communication is a risk management tool. It’s not a nice to have, soft business activity. If you believe anything less, then you’re holding yourself and your business back.

So, confession time – are you a saint or a sinner?

These diamond shoes are too tight: when engagement goes bad

Is there an employee engagement backlash brewing? I’ve read a few articles lately that suggest so – or at least that engagement is now so prevalent that we’re taking our complacent eyes off the ball and starting to get it wrong.

One piece, from Forbes, asks whether engagement is becoming counter productive. It’s a tempting headline for a pretty sound story on the importance of engaging on the right things. I like thinking of engagement in terms of alignment with strategy and that’s really the point of this piece.

But it got me thinking about the times in my past when my best-laid engagement plans have gone awry… screen goes wobbly… fade up to…

– The time we ran a well-being campaign about testicular cancer. The campaign scooped the journalist an Institute of Internal Communication award and brought me dozens of complaints that we hadn’t chosen breast cancer. Towers Watson may consistently find that leaders’ concern for their people’s well-being is a key driver of engagement but it sure isn’t when you limit that concern to those with the right chromosomes.

– The time we gave out chocolates to say thanks when we hit a milestone target. Everyone loves chocolate, don’t they? Well yes, especially the people who were on holiday that day and naturally complained they didn’t get any.

– And finally, the time I invited people to vote on their favourite of four potential covers for our relaunched employee magazine. A simple bit of involvement and fun which cost me many hours and no little sanity. The vote was so popular that we had thousands more votes than there were actual employees (yes, I should have set it so that people could vote only once). The most memorable of a fair few emails read “Sir: I have calculated that yourself and your team of eight have each voted once every seven seconds, without break for food or toilet, to reach that number of votes.”

All painful at the time but a useful lesson now – if you’re gonna involve people, make sure you catch everyone. Otherwise, be prepared to be measured for your ‘counter productive’ cap.

How about you – any engagement howlers to share? If not, spare a thought for these poor souls whose work screw-ups have been immortalised on Rhodri Marsden’s Storify.

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