22nd November 2011
On 22 November 2011, ReputationInc hosted a breakfast seminar onInside Out or Outside In? Integrating Reputation with Employee Engagement. The key speaker was Katharina Auer, Head of Internal Comms, Rio Tinto. ReputationInc presented its latest thinking on internal reputation: a mix of employee engagement, external reputation and internal communications research and strategy. The event was well attended, with over 30 participants from a variety of sectors ranging from finance to energy extractives. The presentation and subsequent discussion was focused on a number of key points that form part of ReputationInc's approach to internal reputation:
1. External reputation impacts on internal motivation
External reputation has a critical role to play in driving internal reputation and employee motivation and pride. When conducting employee research, it is important to integrate employees' views on the company's external reputation with traditional areas like job conditions, teams, management and internal culture.
2. Employees must be involved in creating the corporate story
Senior management must involve employees in the development of the corporate narrative and overall story, rather than just building it themselves and communicating it to employees as a finished product. Co-creation is often talked about as an engaging way of building a narrative. Certainly, it is critical to manage the process in a way which promotes listening and dialogue.
3. Leaders must communicate core vision and purpose
Sharing core vision and purpose is a critical role for senior leaders. They must explain to employees, at every level, the organisation's goals and strategy and indicate in broad terms how employees can contribute to this process. Our recent research shows that employee contribution is the single strongest driver of employee engagement.
4. The communications cascade does not work
The classic communications 'cascade' is no longer effective, not only because corporate messaging is diluted as it come down the organisational hierarchy but also because employees lose the connection to the corporate vision and purpose which is so essential for their engagement. Senior managers must therefore communicate directly with all employees, in as many ways as possible and preferably face-to face. In turn, line managers should be empowered to interpret the vision with their direct reports locally (with both line managers and employees having been party to the same communication from the top team). This allows line managers to have a more 'communication and coaching' type of relationship with their staff.
5. Digital media offers new opportunities for engaging with staff
Internal communication is increasingly delivered through new technologies, especially social media applications in which employees and managers can share their views. These digital channels are now transforming how employees communicate within and with the organisation. The impact on employee involvement and engagement is still being quantified and understood but is potentially huge.