"Get every brain in the game.” — Jack Welch
Jack Welch clearly understands that the road to achieving corporate success all starts with engaging the employee team. Engaging the employee team starts with ensuring communication processes exist and work.
In fact, corporate communications and interpersonal communications are often among the most challenging aspects of running and growing a business.
The role of internal corporate communications is to cultivate strong, positive relationships. This includes, but is not limited to, helping the employee team understand the views of their most important stakeholders (the clients, the employees, and of course the management team). Internal corporate communications should be viewed as a barometer indicating the health of the collaborative capabilities of the collective organization. In other words, internal corporate communications is a leading indicator of future operating performance (earnings and cash flow). If you’re not sure you agree with this statement, then do a reality check.
Do a reality check
At your next management meeting ask your managers to rate the effectiveness of communications throughout the entire organization. Many management teams tend to grade their organization’s communications effectiveness based on the reality that they personally are experiencing. Employees do the same thing. When asking management teams to rate the effectiveness of communications within their organizations, oftentimes they will give themselves an eight on a scale from one to ten, ten being the best. When asking the employee team, non-managers, the same question, it is not unusual for the employees to have a totally different perception regarding the effectiveness of their organization’s internal communications. When pressed further, it turns out that the employees’ reality is often times quite different from the reality their managers experience. In fact, when managers are rating their internal communication at an eight, many employees find themselves rating internal communications at a five.
In many organizations, the leadership team often feels they are very well connected, while their employees are not so well connected. This lack of connectedness surely stands in the way of Jack Welch’s goal of getting every brain in the game. And it really stands in the way of improving employee engagement and retention.
Build an employer brand
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, turnover rates for voluntary separation in the United States between September of 2005 and September of 2006 was at 23.4 percent. Of course job opportunities and salaries are increasing, but responsibilities and commitment to the job are as well. Therefore business owners need to focus on building an employer brand (corporate culture) that is meaningful to both current as well as future employees. Employers can no longer underestimate the role their corporate brand (culture) plays in retaining the best employees.
Process drives employee motivation and engagement
The following are a couple of ideas for helping to improve communications, engagement and retention, all contributors to building your internal corporate brand. Remember, corporate processes drive employee motivation, engagement and retention. Implementing one of these ideas one time is not a process and will not have an enduring positive impact on your organization.
1. Conduct 360-degree reviews as a means of uncovering policies, procedures and communication practices and behaviors that erode employee satisfaction and retention.
2. Implement a meaningful employee performance review process (get help if you don’t know how to do this – this is a business essential).
3. Have a corporate coach (consultant) conduct an organizational assessment identifying problems, obstacles and opportunities inhibiting internal corporate communications and collaborative work environments.
4. Conduct corporate planning and team meetings facilitated by a corporate coach skilled at teaching teams how to communicate effectively, even under duress.
5. Implement employee surveys and screening programs designed to solicit employee input with the goal of identifying ways to improve the effectiveness of cross functional communication and collaboration.
6. Invest in employee training and grow your most important asset. Remember, the rate with which your company grows is directly tied to the rate with which your people grow.
7. Share the big picture (vision and annual goals)…again, this is a communication must.
8. Have goals and controls. Clarity with regards to performance expectations are critical. A process for reviewing actual performance according to plan is a must. High performing employees expect this as part of the ongoing communication process.
9. Make sure your internal meetings and methods for sharing and receiving information and insights are part of a corporate communications system. Having communication processes and systems implies consistency and reliability.
The financial cost of employee turnover is staggering. The emotional cost tied to enduring the ongoing financial underperformance due to poor employee engagement and turnover is also staggering. Make it your goal to improve your corporate brand and operating performance by getting every brain in the game.