Speaker, Author

Business Advisor

Books and Products

Sold in over 12 countries.

Marcia’'s Lastest Book

Whats Coming Up
Learning and
Event Calendar

Archives for the 'Employee Communication' Category

How to Leverage Team Briefing to Support Business Goals

  • Wednesday, April 6th,2016
  • Part 2: The reason why I am such a fan of the team briefing process is that the process is driven by the CEO.  Sure you have to facilitate the process but, and this is a very important distinction, it is the CEO who looks at their direct reports – the executive leadership team at […]

    Part 2: The reason why I am such a fan of the team briefing process is that the process is driven by the CEO.  Sure you have to facilitate the process but, and this is a very important distinction, it is the CEO who looks at their direct reports – the executive leadership team at their weekly meeting and says, “These are the 5 key items I want discussed for the corporate update this week”.

    And there it is, the directive from the CEO which is then cascaded throughout the organisation.

    The other reason it works so well is that it is two way, any questions arising from team briefings are fed back up the line to the communications team to follow up for clarification at the next team meeting.

    And in the staff survey in the area on communication, you ask the question whether team briefing occurs on a regular basis.  If there is an overwhelming no, the CEO will see the results.

    Again it is my belief is that process changes behaviour and team briefing reinforces this consistent face to face communication channel and that, together with the fact that it is driven by the CEO ensures means that there is a greater chance of adherence.

    The Team Briefing process comprises of the following:

    • Face to Face – This encourages questions and discussions to ensure that policies, decisions or other information is clearly understood.
    • Two Way – Managers or Team Leaders can receive instant responses from employees on proposed decisions and policies. These responses are then fed back to the appropriate management level.
    • In Teams (4 – 15 people) – This size encourages constructive comments and questions. Each group should be a ‘work group’ which has a common identity so that the information can be targeted to issues that impact on them.
    • Delivered by a Manager or Team Leader – This ensures the credibility of the system and reinforces the role of the Manager or Team Leader as being responsible for the team’s performance.
    • Regular – Team Briefing should be held weekly or fortnightly, with dates, times and venues set at least six months in advance. The duration of the briefing sessions should be between 15 minutes up to a maximum of 30 minutes including time for questions.
    • Relevant – Most information (about 60%) should be spent on local items of relevance to the team. Corporate information (about 40%) if possible, should be given a local emphasis.
    • Open and Honest – A commitment to communicate openly and honestly is essential for team briefing to work effectively as an employee communication tool.
    • Monitored – This is essential to ensure that messages are getting through. It is measured through corporate employee surveys, and by Managers and Team Leaders walking around the work areas regularly and talking informally with employees.

    Credibility with employees will be enhanced if communication of positive and negative news is delivered honestly and responses to questions are candid and given in a timely manner.

    To purchase templates, user guides and instruction guide to implement team briefing click here.

     

    How To Ensure Leaders Communicate With Employees

  • Wednesday, February 3rd,2016
  • Part 1: The main reasons why leaders fail to communicate with employees is really based on two things.  Firstly they need a process to follow that is easy for them to do and secondly it must form part of a routine.  You are really changing their behaviour by constantly repeating a new process.   The […]

    Part 1:

    The main reasons why leaders fail to communicate with employees is really based on two things.  Firstly they need a process to follow that is easy for them to do and secondly it must form part of a routine.  You are really changing their behaviour by constantly repeating a new process.

     

    The easiest way to do this that I know of is to introduce Team Briefing.

    • The Team Briefing process aims to achieve the following objectives:
    • To ensure each employee is aware of how their role fits into the organization.To ensure that information is passed on consistently and accurately to all employees at approximately the same time.
    • To improve the working relationships between employees and their managers or team leaders.

     

    Team Briefing has been used successfully in many organizations as a means to ensure consistent face to face messages in meetings. It encompasses many of the best forms of employee communication. It is face to face, regular and structured, focuses on the team and its Manager/Team Leader and allows for information to be communicated up and down the line.

    It assists staff to respond to the competitive challenge of the business and provides a means of keeping employees up to date with the rapid changes occurring within your organization.

    Consistent Messages

    Team Briefing is a structured system of cascading meetings based on the communication of a core brief. The corporate brief, consisting of corporate and divisional issues, must be communicated at each team brief to ensure that a consistent message across the business is achieved.

     

    Team Briefing is a structured form of two way communication. It is designed to ensure relevant and important business information is passed on and understood quickly throughout your division, from management to front line employees, on a regular and scheduled basis. It also allows information, ideas and questions to be fed back to other Managers within the organizational structure.

    The briefing should comprise of:

    Up to 6 points of Corporate information (contained in the Corporate Brief provided by management).  This is cascaded from the weekly executive meeting.

    Division Brief up to 6 points. This is cascaded from the executive team of the business division your manager belongs to.

    A Local Brief of 6 – 7 points, compiled by the manager, on local information.

    A Question and Answer session and Feedback session.

     

    It is only the third piece, the local brief that changes, everything else remains consistent as it is cascaded from the top of the organization through to an employee’s local team.

     

    In the second part of this series on team briefing I will take you through the key steps to ensure that it is structured correctly to ensure that your key employee communication messages are getting to the right audience and in a timely manner.

     

    Stakeholder Engagement and Communicating Change

  • Wednesday, May 13th,2015
  • The most important step when implementing change in an organisation is to undertake a stakeholder analysis. And particularly when that change will impact the entire organisation it is important to start thinking at the outset like a lobbyist about to visit politicians, you need to be clear about where to focus your efforts, who is […]

    The most important step when implementing change in an organisation is to undertake a stakeholder analysis. And particularly when that change will impact the entire organisation it is important to start thinking at the outset like a lobbyist about to visit politicians, you need to be clear about where to focus your efforts, who is supportive of your area, who is a key influencer of whom, how can you quickly demonstrate the benefits the change will bring?

    If you don’t know the answers to these questions from the outset then your change program is going to take a very long time to get traction, you might implement a new software system for example but few people will think it adds value, so engagement will take a long time to achieve.

    Similarly if you are implementing a new strategy, be this for example performance measurement schemes, or new health and safety initiatives it is important that you get advocates for your change initiatives within the business and from the top. Change for these types of initiatives are only successful when there is a paradigm shift by the business and they see the value of your services and expertise in helping them with their business decisions and managing risk. If it is something that you need to continual to sell as a value add then you have not analysed your stakeholders well. They should be extolling the value of the change to their business counterparts, not you.

    So here are some tips on how to strategise when it comes to which stakeholders to engage and what to do next.

    1. The first step is to analyse stakeholders at the top of the organisation. What are their current views on the value of the services you provide? Who will be willing to run a pilot in their area of the changes that you want to make? How quickly are you able to demonstrate quick wins to sway those who think it is yet another change initiative that will come to pass with little value to the business. You need to know who thinks what before you plan how you will communicate change and what you will say.

    This leads me to the next point which is so often overlooked in organisations when one part of the business is leading change that will impact the rest of the business.

    2. As Peter Drucker has been quoted as saying, “The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling him.” Companies need to take a customer perspective to succeed with implementation of change. Take this view when you are communicating change within your organisation. What is it that other business units want to “buy” from your area, what do they think you could do to add value, and then provide the change in those terms, their terms.

    There are a number of reasons why strategic change typically takes 3 – 5 years to get traction within an organisation. Two of the key reasons are failure to undertake a stakeholder analysis and thinking that telling everyone the same thing is going achieve the change in behaviour you are seeking.

    And secondly because typically with service type areas we speak in our technical speak as it pertains to the work that we do. When introducing change we then defer to our language and what we perceive the benefits are to the rest of the organisation. However it always needs to be in language the customer understands and that the value conveyed so that it is meaningful to them, not us.

    Don’t Press Send

  • Monday, July 15th,2013
  • This past week has seen, if true, the worst examples of the use of online communication media. One was allegedly direct emails sent to employees advising them that their job was now redundant. The second was a newsletter from a CEO which started off friendly enough but then ended with the news of pending restructures […]

    This past week has seen, if true, the worst examples of the use of online communication media. One was allegedly direct emails sent to employees advising them that their job was now redundant. The second was a newsletter from a CEO which started off friendly enough but then ended with the news of pending restructures and redundancies. The CEO it was reported later apologised to staff.

    When is online communication acceptable to advise employees of pending change and redundancies? NEVER. And I would expect that everyone reading this would already know that.

    But the issue is not just announcing redundancies online; the ongoing issue is how organisations are ever going to get traction with change strategies with the remaining workforce. Emails, online updates, intranet stories about “productivity improvements” seriously mean absolutely nothing to employees.

    There is only one way to communicate change, to get leaders at all levels to drive the change agenda and ensure that employees can connect the dots from what they do to the new business strategy. That is to design processes that are driven by leaders, linked to the change agenda and bring everyone to the “Aha” moment so that they truly understand the reason why behind change. And importantly you have to be able to say that your change communication can be measured by the impact on business outcomes. If you can’t do that, then as I always say, you are simply communicating information about the changes you are not engaging employees or leaders in the process of change.

    Pending redundancies, restructures, productivity improvements, change of business strategy should come as no surprise to anyone because your change communication approach should always be focussed on business and how what I do as an employee, as a leader or team member, contributes to the current business situation. Do this well then you catch the problem early and can involve everyone in solutions.

    The days of whisking away leaders to decide the new direction and then returning to tell the troops should be well and truly over. If you want change communication to produce outstanding results you design a plan that engages employees. In all my years consulting I can tell you that employees are sitting there, observing the obvious, waiting for the opportunity to tell you exactly what needs to be done to improve process, customer service, product development, competitor advantage, whatever. It is never leaders who have this wealth of information, it is those employees at the coal face who are the untapped resource that most CEO’s for some reason continue to overlook and fail to engage in the process of change.

    Recently I asked you what your greatest challenge was when communicating change. Without exception each response had the lack of ownership by leaders to communicate change as the core issue. Many other issues stem from this and adversely impact change communication strategies. In the coming weeks I will address the common themes, why I think the problem occurs and what you can do differently to achieve the engagement results you are after.

    As always I appreciate your comments and will respond to them here.

    Marcia

    3 examples of the difference between internal and change communication

  • Monday, April 29th,2013
  • If I were to pinpoint the key difference between internal communication and change communication it is that the first informs the latter engages employees. Often I talk about the need to embrace face to face dialogue for communicating change, but it is important to understand that this is more than just team briefings or CEO […]

    If I were to pinpoint the key difference between internal communication and change communication it is that the first informs the latter engages employees. Often I talk about the need to embrace face to face dialogue for communicating change, but it is important to understand that this is more than just team briefings or CEO forums. What I am talking about is the developing a fully thought out activity being very clear about action outcomes and measured by business results. Because it is about doing something as a result of the face to face engagement not about telling employees about a change. And most importantly build into the process how leaders will drive and own the change communication activity. Here are some examples:

    1. The Customer Experience – A managing director who at his weekly executive meetings invites a key customer to discuss the customer experience from their perspective and why they would consider moving to another supplier. It engages everyone around the table to understand that each aspect of what they do, whether it is billing, product, service quality, call centre assistance, and all touch points with that organisation that customer service is the whole experience. You then take that first conversation and define a specific activity and process to be driven throughout the organisation to focus on changing the customer experience. This is instead of just posting an article about why it is important on the intranet.

    2. A program focussed on linking customers with staff in a face to face event and having staff ask the question, what is it that we do now that if we do even better you will always use our services and products. You then take that information and design a program that engages employees in designing and implementing solutions. This empowers employees to own and control the change rather than change being done to them.

    3. Annual results – instead of just posting them on an intranet site or the CEO discussing them at a staff forum or town hall you actually teach employees about how to decide whether to invest in a company. You then turn your attention to your organisation, review the financials together and ask the team to start examining ways to improve the bottomline by growing the business. Then you design an activity that may be six months in duration but is focussed on achievement of business outcomes. Now employees have the opportunity to be clear on improvement activities because the truly understand the reason why.

    Engagement is not about reading or listening, it is about doing. Design a change communication strategy that has processes, actions, activities, reward and recognition, is measured by impact on business outcomes and impacts all levels of the organisation and you get engagement. Design the content for intranets, CEO forums and emails and so on and you get a well informed workforce ready to move forward with the engagement process. The two go hand in hand, you cannot inform without engagement, you cannot engage your workforce without information. Change communication is specific alignment of the two focussed on agreed business outcomes and achievement of business strategy. Most importantly you need to be creative and specific in your design of the change communication activity as it needs to be directly relevant to your organisational culture.

    As always I am interested in your thoughts and experience with change communication strategies you have implemented. Feel free to share them in your comments on this blog.

    The role of leaders during change

  • Sunday, July 1st,2012
  • One of the critical pieces of any change management program is face to face communication. The role of leaders during change is very different from business as usual. It requires a greater physical presence amongst employees to reassure them that their concerns are being heard at the top of the organisation and conversely that the […]

    One of the critical pieces of any change management program is face to face communication. The role of leaders during change is very different from business as usual. It requires a greater physical presence amongst employees to reassure them that their concerns are being heard at the top of the organisation and conversely that the CEO has the opportunity to find out what is really going on.

    This is why leadership competency in communication is so important, because from the top down people model behaviours including leaders on executive teams and right down to team leaders. If the CEO doesn’t communicate then it is likely others will follow her lead. There are two types of change in organisations, the first is the downsizing change, the other is about organisational transformation, and sometimes one follows the other.

    Here are some tips about what leaders can do as communication change management skills come to the fore.

    In a downsizing situation staff just want to hear from the leader. If there is nothing to say about the detail this doesn’t matter. In all cases I find employees just want to have access to the person at the top who they attribute to making the final decision whether that be accurate or not. So what does the face to face communication consist of? This is the easy part, transparency. Employees just want to know why downsizing is taking place and when they will find out if they will still have a job. At this stage very few will be listening to any commentary on strategy, first and foremost want to know about their financial security. Once this is part of the change process is over, you need to move to strategy fast so that employees are clear on the road ahead and the opportunities to build on a solid foundation.

    The second change scenario is organisational transformation, whether this is a new strategic plan, merger or acquisition, entry into new markets or new product lines or systems. Here the conversation is about the vision, the way the enterprise connects to achieve that vision and the importance of each area within the organisation to support it. If employees can contribute to change based on what they do having some impact on business decisions, real time measures such as sales or customer service feedback are an excellent tool for measuring how well your change strategies are working. Sharing business information always creates a motivated and focussed workforce rather than one where people come to work, do their job and have no idea how they contribute to the big picture.

    So as an easy checklist all you need to do first is consider the audience and what they want to know, what information and engagement strategies will make it easier for them to understand the reason why change is happening not what is happening. Whether you are implementing a new IT system, entering new markets or merging with an organisation, when focussed on articulating the why, transparency and openness will always be the outcome.

    I’m interested to hear about your change strategies, please share them here with us.

    Change Communication: Strategies that produce exceptional results

  • Thursday, January 19th,2012
  • I don’t like templates for change communication plans. Why? Because no two organisational cultures are the same and you cannot just lift one approach from one organisation to another and assume it will produce the same results. Also speaking of results I am not interested in results such as awards for well designed intranet sites, […]

    I don’t like templates for change communication plans. Why? Because no two organisational cultures are the same and you cannot just lift one approach from one organisation to another and assume it will produce the same results.

    Also speaking of results I am not interested in results such as awards for well designed intranet sites, number of visitors to portals, the number of people that turned up to a CEO presentation or later said it was good or the worse I have seen, asking staff to recall what the key points were in a presentation.

    And the reason why is that none of the above can directly be linked to bringing about results in terms of business outcomes, all they will ever do is measure the quality of your information strategies not your communication strategies and the difference is huge.

    A bit provocative – let me explain why. Let’s suppose you are meeting with the CEO of your organisation, his concern is that the value he is looking for from change communication is that you have been able to connect with the audience, that you have been able to engage them, bring them to that “Aha” moment when they finally understand why things are changing and what they can do differently to contribute to this, the what is the easy stuff, it is information, it engages no one it simply informs them about what is changing. Even if you write stories, post interview videos online all about the why as well as the what, unless you design strategies that can be measured by business impact not by readership then your change communication strategies will not produce exceptional results.

    Here’s a simple example.

    The Business Objective:

    This hospital wanted to cut costs while at the same time ensuring that its patients were not adversely affected by the changes. The hospital was also a major provider of healthcare in a small community, so it was essential that its reputation of high-quality care was not reduced.

    The Method:

    The hospital wanted to ensure that its personal care remained at the highest standard. So they sought feedback through focus groups, telephone surveys and directly contacting the carers. Three key attributes in patient care emerged as the main contributors to patient satisfaction. The hospital staff concentrated on improving these three areas while simultaneously reducing costs. Cross-functional teams were then established with employees who volunteered to take part. An employee with strong project management skills was selected to lead each team. They then presented management with a list of options to improve the experience of the patients, with details of the costs and timeframes for implementation. Agreement was reached on the changes and the senior management team ensured line managers were not barriers to the implementation.

    The Outcome:

    As a result of the changes implemented, patient satisfaction rose to 98%. This significantly high score contributed to a great lift in employee morale and increased motivation despite the cost-cutting activities. Employees were directly involved in implementing the improvements, and a staff survey indicated greater levels of job satisfaction.

    Now the usual change communication approach would have been a CEO forum where the head of the hospital would have explained to employees why they needed to cut costs, then updates would be provided via email and the intranet on changes, there would have been face to face communication between team leaders and staff on cost cutting – all of this would just have been information. But by communicating and engaging the audience, both staff employed by the hospital and carers a change communication strategy was implemented that could be measured by achieving the business objectives.

    In my manual, The Future of Employee Communication – 50 Case Studies of Excellence you will find more ideas on exceptional strategies you can implement that can be measured by business outcomes.

    I look forward to reading your comments on strategies you have implemented and how they contributed to business results.

    Change Management: 5 Tips for Implementing Change

  • Tuesday, November 15th,2011
  • The best approach to implementing change is identifying your unique approach for each particular situation. Even within organizations it is risky to have a one size fits all approach yet many organizations aim to have one methodology for all situations. Take for example a sales division, this most likely will have a different culture from […]

    The best approach to implementing change is identifying your unique approach for each particular situation. Even within organizations it is risky to have a one size fits all approach yet many organizations aim to have one methodology for all situations.

    Take for example a sales division, this most likely will have a different culture from the IT department just based on the skill set, the type of work and environment in which employees work therefore the best approach is to define specifically what will work within an organization not the organization as a whole.

    Here are 5 tips to get you started.

    1. The first is to understand the business context. This goes almost without saying that you need to understand what the business reason is for the change, what are the business impacts both within the organization and externally and what is the goal and vision for the organization as a result of the changes implemented.

    2. What is the scope of the change, is it a new way of doing business, new technology, new markets, or a new organizational structure? These are just some of the questions you need to ask as the impact will be on employees and other stakeholders and by analysing the impact you will understand begin to understand the scope of your change strategy.

    3. Once you have done this analysis you are ready to identify the best approach to implement the changes. This includes the communication strategy which is nearly always about information, the engagement strategy which is about designing activities aimed at getting the buy-in and support of all levels of employees including the leadership team and then identifying the business measures.

    4. Implement the change strategy for all levels including the leadership team and assess continuously and monitor the success or otherwise of change interventions and alter as the need arises and continue to measure.

    5. Change should be seamless and become part of business as usual activities. Where change processes fail is when they are labelled and treated as something happening over there and separate to the business. Seamless integration into the new way we do business is the most difficult but necessary aspect of managing change so ensure that the engagement activities designed in step 3 are designed to become a new process so that behaviour changes.

    Change management is difficult, stories abound of change strategies that fail, either due to lack of support by the leadership team, the inability to explain in very simple terms that mean something to individuals why the change is occurring and the miscalculation in timing of the change interventions whether they be key messages or engagement strategies. To find out more about how to implement change and engage employees click here.

    Employee Communication – Linking Employees with the Customer Experience

  • Wednesday, November 2nd,2011
  • One of the best ways to create momentum to bring strategy to life is to connect employees with the customer experience. So practically what does this mean and how do you do it? What this means is that you are looking for opportunities that demonstrate the connection between the work that employees do and the […]

    One of the best ways to create momentum to bring strategy to life is to connect employees with the customer experience. So practically what does this mean and how do you do it? What this means is that you are looking for opportunities that demonstrate the connection between the work that employees do and the impact it has directly on the customer – whether that be with an internal or external customer. For more ideas on how to do this click here.

    Today we’ll explore a few case studies that illustrate how this can be implemented regardless of your industry sector.

    Healthcare Sector Case Study:

    The Objective:

    This hospital wanted to cut costs whilst at the same time ensuring that its patients were not adversely affected by the changes. The hospital was also a major provider of healthcare in a small community, so it was essential that its reputation of high-quality care was not reduced.

    The Method:

    The hospital wanted to ensure that its personal care remained at the highest standard. So they sought feedback through focus groups, telephone surveys and directly contacting the carers. Three key attributes in patient care emerged as the main contributors to patient satisfaction. The hospital staff concentrated on improving these three areas while simultaneously reducing costs. Cross-functional teams were then established with employees who volunteered to take part. An employee with strong project management skills was selected to lead each team. They then presented management with a list of options to improve the experience of the patients, with details of costings and timeframes for implementation. Agreement was reached on the changes and the senior management team ensured line managers were not barriers to the implementation.

    The Outcome:

    As a result of the changes implemented, patient satisfaction rose to 98%. This significantly high score contributed to a great lift to employee morale and increased motivation despite the cost-cutting activities. Employees were directly involved in implementing the improvements, and a staff survey indicated greater levels of job satisfaction.

    STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

    STEP 1:

    Identify whether your customer research can indicate top three factors that will have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction.

    STEP 2:

    Involve employees in the implementation of some of these changes.

    STEP 3:

    Measure customer satisfaction and communicate this to employees. It will be an endorsement of their efforts and thus improve staff morale.

    Media Sector Case Study:

    The Objective:

    This media organization was concerned that as it grew, the level of customer satisfaction varied considerably across the businesses. The organisation wanted to dramatically improve its service levels and to become more customer-focused, but they also needed to involve employees in the process.

    The Method:

    The first aspect of the project was to survey employees in focus groups about what they thought the level of service was. The survey highlighted interesting results: most employees felt that red tape hindered customer satisfaction; half the employees commented that excellence in customer service was not recognized; and, a large number of employees felt that managers did not focus on customer satisfaction. The focus group results highlighted the areas for improvement. The first was putting together cross-functional teams to identify opportunities for eliminating red tape and improving customer satisfaction. Then, the employees designed what they felt were appropriate reward and recognition for excellence in customer service. And finally to address the issue of managers not being focussed on customer satisfaction they were integrated into the cross functional teams and had accountability for making them successful. The approach was driven by the CEO and the executive management team. It created a focus around customer satisfaction that permeated every aspect of the customer experience and was the main driver of the organization.

    The Outcome:

    Over 150 ideas on ways to enhance customer satisfaction were received from the cross-functional teams. Nearly all the suggestions were implemented, which reinforced the support the organization had for the project. Continued focus on customer satisfaction reinforced it as the key driver in the organization’s culture.

    STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

    STEP 1:

    Conduct some focus groups and find out what employees think about customer satisfaction levels.

    STEP 2:

    Implement cross-functional teams for employees to address some of the issues raised in the focus groups.

    STEP 3:

    When designing a rewards and recognition programme, give employees the opportunity to indicate what would be a motivator for them.

    Strategic employee communication is so much more than updating intranet sites, organising CEO forums, company blogs and sending out information via email. The true value is in finding ways to engage employees by doing something differently and seeing the direct impact of the decisions and actions that they take at work. For more case studies click here.

    Employee Communication: How to conduct focus group research

  • Saturday, July 16th,2011
  • To have credibility when discussing strategic employee communication with senior management, proposals need to be supported by facts. Focus groups are usually held to gauge opinions about certain issues and ideas for solutions to problems. On occasion they are used to form the basis of the questions on staff surveys and customer surveys. Externally research […]

    To have credibility when discussing strategic employee communication with senior management, proposals need to be supported by facts. Focus groups are usually held to gauge opinions about certain issues and ideas for solutions to problems. On occasion they are used to form the basis of the questions on staff surveys and customer surveys. Externally research firms use focus groups either to gauge public opinion about products or services. It is a good format as it allows you to explore issues further and sometimes you will discover issues or ideas you hadn’t considered prior to the session. As the facilitator, your role is to lead the discussion but leave the actual dialogue to the participants, bringing them back to the main issue if they have gone off on a tangent or ensure that all the topics that you wanted to cover within the allocated timeframe are covered.

    Basically groups of 8 – 10 people are selected with the same selection parameters such as job level, type of job, or with customers of the market segment they represent. When interviewing employees using focus groups you need to compare the outcomes of different groups, i.e., sales managers, sales representatives, call centre sales staff. This will provide a more accurate indication of what all levels of employees who interact with a particular customer segment consider an accurate reflection of customer opinion.

    CHECKLIST FOR IMPLEMENTING FOCUS GROUPS

    When implementing focus groups for an employee communication strategy you need to do the following:

    • Be aware that focus groups are not the same for each organisation, they need to be tailored to suit individual circumstances
    • The focus groups should be held in like groups, for instance managers in one team, supervisors another, employee groups by department in others
    • You should interview 10% of the employee base where possible to form an accurate sample of employee views, alternatively if you have a large number of employees, then at least a representative sample will provide the data to form the basis of a questionnaire
    • When focus groups with employees are held there is a perception that something will happen as a result. Therefore you need the support of the CEO and reinforce that the reason for the focus groups is supported at the highest level in the organisation. For instance you maybe about to implement a customer focussed strategy and the focus groups will provide you with the data you need to set the platform for the project. The worse case scenario is setting expectations amongst employees and then not delivering and with focus groups as the employees have taken time out from their work and participated in discussions they will expect to see an outcome
    • Greater objectivity is achieved when the focus groups are conducted by an external firm as participants are more likely to open up and express the way they really feel

    THE MAIN STEPS IN FOCUS GROUP RESEARCH

    1. A planning meeting to identify the objectives, problem areas and scope of the research
    2. Guideline timetable to develop the selection of focus group participants and timetable for interviews
    3. Individual management interviews
    4. Preparation of the employee communication strategy
    5. Presentation of findings to senior management
    6. Implementation of recommendations

    STAGES OF THIS RESEARCH

    Management Interviews

    A minimum number of individual half hour interviews with management are held to find out what they think about the issue you are researching and what level of employee involvement they would support.

    Employee Focus Groups

    Ten percent of employees from all areas of the company are interviewed in focus groups, eight to ten participants in each group. Each session is of one and one half hours duration and rather than a structured questionnaire being used, a subject outline is introduced and questioning follows on from this point.


    Focus Group Research Interpreted

    When interpreting the findings from the management interviews you need to identify what they will support in terms of employee involvement programs and why or why not, opinions on the business issue you are researching and the basis for that view. The focus groups will provide you with trends in answers and also indicate which areas of the organisation are most supportive and enthusiastic and will be a good starting point for your strategy. Focus groups of employees will provide you not only with information about what they know about a new initiative but also on what basis they have come to that conclusion.

    The most important piece of information for any employee communication professional is to find out why employees have a certain view on a particular topic. Once you know this you can start to put together the pieces like a jigsaw puzzle and will quickly identify the key pieces that are missing. It is on this basis you then put together your employee communication strategy for any new initiative, whether implementation of an IT system to major business transformation.

    Some of Marcia's Clients

    No items.