Get a “Swear Jar” for your office?

Communications is all about controlling language, right? Internal comms is all about etiquette, right?  Well, how about this as a campaign…. it’s just to make you laugh really.


Watch video here: A “Swear Jar” for the Office?


Don’t Sit on Your R’s, Keep Engaging Your Employees

If you want to retain talent you cannot rest on your laurels, you need to work to reatin talent. Here are some ways employees can be kept loyal, instead of letting your human capital walk out the door to another company.


This is some advice from the leadership of Fishbowl, a software inventory company, posted in Harvard Business Review. The suggest you follow the “5 R’s” of employee relationships

Check the posting here:

Seven Deadly Sins Indeed!

Seven Deadly Sins Indeed!

Here’s an interesting post on the 7 deadly sins of social media. Do you agree, or are there others not mentioned here? What deadly sin do you commit (polite answers only please!)?

This posting is aimed at companies doing their PR, but they also apply to use of social media internally. The article is penned by Maria Perez, director of news operations for ProfNet, a service that helps connect journalists with expert sources.

Seven Internal Comms Steps to Merger Heaven!

 How to Communicate Internally for Success in a Merger – Part 2

You may have sold the merger to investors, but you need to sell it to your people. This makes internal communications more like a political campaign than a traditional internal communication plan.


As explained in Part 1, the dialogue a newly merged company needs to embark upon is one of building trust. Here are some steps communicators can implement to promote trust in their company, and which help to create a strategy and a programme for internal communications change for employee success.

Step 1:

Charity begins at home: get your communicators working together at the earliest opportunity, starting with workshops and all-hands calls. This will help you identify the skills you can leverage, promote common teamwork in the new paradigm and break down barriers to trust. If communicators cannot break down the silos, then what hope for the business units?

Step 2:
Such workshops can also be promoted in the integration work of the business units, and communications can be part of this by training managers to communicate better. This is a new business, so the old ways and perceptions need to be challenged by a new and transparent way of communicating

Step 3:
Get the CEO and leaders out and about, visiting sites or holding townhalls. You may have sold the merger to investors, but you need to sell it to your people. This makes internal communications more like a political campaign than a traditional internal communication plan. You want hearts and minds, and direct engagement will save a host of hours and days crafting messages, brochures and e-mails. Treat employees like swing voters and remember, people often vote for they guy they met than the one who stays away from the constituency, whatever the message or the traditional ties.

Step 4:
Undertake an effective employee feedback programme, using an external author so you get an honest view of what employees are thinking and feeling. They are often keen to embrace the new company, but they are looking for a new source of certainty. They will offer helpful advice to management. They will also tell you what was wrong in the old company, because they may feel there is an opportunity to change things for the better in the new company.

Step 5:
You are learning about the other side of the merger yourself, and may find pockets of poor morale, since there may be a perception of being on “the losing side.” You need to find out more and seek ways to engage these employees, and ensure they are fit and ready for the journey.

Step 6:
From branding to daily use of language, you need to build a new verbal and visual language that engages everyone. Old company visuals and language reinforce the past. The new vocabulary can help employees feel engaged. Where old materials are kept, it should be for good reason and understandable to employees.

Step 7:
Finally, understand one thing, employees are feeling vulnerable in the wake of a merger or acquisition, and they have many questions. They are also, on the whole, reasonable people willing to give the benefit of the doubt. As in all internal communications, treat employees with respect, speak the truth to them, and explain the rationale for an action or holding back on detail, and they will be accepting, so long as it resonates with them and rings true.

These are just some of the first steps to thinking through an effective internal communications approach. Engaging your employees at the earliest stage in a merger, indeed in any change management, will help you take them with you on the exciting journey your business leaders want the company to take to achieve enduring success.

How Internal Comms Has Evolved

A Short History of Internal Comms

This is an amusing short film on the evolution of internal comms, a little too true to be funny! It was produced by the CIPR in London, and is useful for short presentations trying to get the point across that internal comms has an important role to play.


How to Communicate Internally for Success in a Merger – Part 1

The truth, and the context we need to consider, is that there is no such thing as a merger. There are only hostile and friendly takeovers.


There is nothing as energising for communicators than a merger. The pace can be electric, the role of communicator takes centre stage. The constant calls from media, the very strong elastic between the CEO and the lead communicator to ensure immediate attention, and the work required to get the messages and words right, all make it arguably the most demanding work a communicator can do in their career. I have been fortunate to have leadership roles in two mergers, from very different perspectives; first, as the head of corporate communications, and second, as a head of internal communications.

The challenge is great, and the rewards of success are sweet. At the beginning of the merger, there is little time for sleep or rest, and business as usual takes a back seat to the task of dancing with the media, first to avoid comment and later to inform the world of a momentous occasion in the life of the company. At the end, in the event there is a new name and brand for the newly merged company, watching fellow employees cheer as a new brand is unveiled for the first time can be memorable.

In between life can be a rollercoaster, with uncertainty over whether the merger will be completed for sure, the new org chart, the necessary secrecy of brand development and everything else challenging the communicator to perform to the max. The attention during all this time tends to be external. The employees are at worse often left in the dark, or at best placed second in priority. Yet, when all the excitement is over, and the investment banker and media circus has left town, what are you left with? The employees are the ones who are expected to embrace and live the new business and brand, but they have been left at the previous station.

The truth, and the context we need to consider, is that there is no such thing as a merger. There are only hostile and friendly takeovers. In this context, there is fear on both sides. Speak to both sides of the merger and you will sniff out fears on both sides, though admittedly less on the stronger side of the deal, but even then there are reasons to be fearful.

Just like all other aspects of the business, internal communications needs are greatest during a merger or acquisition. The org chart is often ill-defined, and employees are left wondering who their new boss will be, and from what side of the merger will they come. There is mutual suspicion. In integration teams, those involved may often be talking themselves literally out of a job. In reorganising the new department structure, the leaders may themselves be out-structured, even the head of communications!

The suspicion and uncertainty is both endemic and systemic. Employees cope by living in a tension between what they know and what they fear. They know for the moment they have a job, but fear their job will be gone tomorrow. They know they have a boss, but fear a new boss will come in from the other side of the deal. They know the culture and “how things are done around here,” but fear the culture will fracture or be replaced, and things will “go downhill from here.”

What is the heart of these very real and understandable concerns? Lack of trust. What is the solution? Building trust.

Look out on Monday morning for Part 2 of this blog… featuring the Seven Steps to merger heaven!

Recognizing Internal Comms

Recognizing Internal Comms

I made the point yesterday about recognizing internal comms as a need but a lack of dedicated resources, and lo and behold PR Week in the UK reports on the Chartered Insititute of Public Relations releasing research concluding the same. Follow the link to find the detail.

This is a good way to show company values and tell the corporate story in a company video.

High marks to GE.

Do you have examples you can suggest to post? If you do, please add them in a comment and I will profile and comment on them in future postings. Thanks!


Why Today is a Special Day in Employee Engagement….

Today marks a special day in employee engagement. It is an historic day. Like much in employee engagement there are lessons to be learned from today’s anniversary.

What day am I talking about?

Well, on 14th November, 1899, Lever brothers (which merged in 1930 to form Unilever), launched the first employee “Suggestion Box.” Heads of their works departments and managers decided that “one of the drawbacks of a business so large as ours was the fact that it was utterly impossible for the heads of the firm to know and meet every employee in the ordinary course of business.”

The suggestion box was essentially for improving “Efficiency, Economy, and Comfort” for the employees, and Lever was praised for creating a radical and “democratic idea.”  Employee proposals were published in Lever’s company-sponsored magazine called Progress and prizes awarded for the best suggestions,  with £3 for first place to 10 shillings for third place.

Progress magazine was quite a departure too, in these early days of magazines, with management recognizing that the company lacked personal contact being a large enterprise. Management stated that the introduction of Progress extended “a hearty hand-shake to all members of our staff,” and bring “you into contact with ourselves and with each other.”

Has much changed in over 100 years? Can your company be proud of its employee engagement on this 14th November? Good question.

All too often employees remain ill-communicated to, and the tools in use are more broadcast than engagement. All too often the internal communications staff are headed at a more junior level than the external relations functions. Employees are always held up as important in principle, but this doesn’t always carry over into pratice or budgets. Many companies do well at internal communications and strive for improvement, but there are more imaginative ways to enter into dialog with your employees in the 21st Century, there’s no need to use 19th Century approaches.

On this 14th November, look for a moment at your internal communications function, tools and the resources dedicated to it and ask how far you has your company come to engage employees effectively? Look beyond the rhetoric and ask people on the shopfloor or by the water-cooler what they honestly think of how they are engaged.

The answers might surprise you, and hopefully inspire you to do even better!

Progress Magazine, launched by Lever Bros in 1899, still going strong in 1932 after the merger created Unilever

The Employee 6 Pack: 6 Rules to Re-focus Your Employee Communications

Ever wondered how you can make your employee communications more focused and meaningful, almost like breaking open a six pack with your employees and sitting down to really understand their needs? Here are 6 rules you can use to get closer to your employees.


Rule #1 Internal communications is about the employee

Too many communications to employees are high-handed. They tend to be about what the senior management think is important. This just makes your internal communications a bullhorn. It’s heard, but too many employees have their hands over their ears. Start from where the employee is, do communicate on what they find important, and you’ll reach them. Be empathetic to your employees.


Rule #2 Assume transparency

The world is never going to be less transparent than it is today, so get used to it if you aren’t already. Many companies today are fearful of social media because it is transparent, but taking this approach is setting your business back. Your employees are your best ambassadors, and when they are unhappy they tell everyone whether you like it or not, and vice-versa they tell everyone what a great company they work for when they are cared for. Be open with your employees.


Rule #3 Don’t let the outside media tell the news first

Ensure that you announce things internally and externally at the same time. The no.1 thing which alienates an employee most is hearing what their company is doing from their newspaper, TV or even a neighbor. Even in the case of stock exchange rules covering announcements, you can coincide announcements.  Include your employees sooner.


Rule # 4 Go Glocal on your employees

For international business, maintaining a balance between the global and local messages is critical. There has to be a mix, and there are numerous ways you can involve employees in global messaging, such as featuring them in the global publications, competitions and company Intranet stories. Treat your employees as a local participant in a global community.


Rule #5 Don’t “cascade”, create dynamic dialog

The idea of “cascading” communications is insulting, ban the word! It assumes communications has to go from top to bottom, it is hierarchy, not communications. You will find people in your company who think that information “cascaded” down to them gives them power, so they hold on to it. Unleash the power of communications by analyzing how information goes up, down and across, and even jumps around! Communicate to your employees from different directions.


Rule #6 Find that guy!

Throughout your company there are guys who are natural communicators. They may be blue collar, white collar, running a department or packing shelves. Whatever their position, they are good at communicating. Get the message to them and they will communicate to others around the company. Word of mouth remains the most powerful form of communication. Reach your employees by finding that guy!



Create a free website or blog at