How Sociable is Your CEO?

Is your CEO very sociable? I don’t mean a party animal or schmoozer. I mean in their use of Imagesocial media. The great advantage of social media is that CEOs can speak direct to employees on a regular basis. Being able to integrate onsite visits with regular video updates to explain the strategy is a boon for the modern CEO, and welcome by many employees.

However, if you’re still making the business case for social media then it is useful to benchmark your CEO aganist their peers, and a new report by Weber Shandwick is a useful resource you can tap to help make your case.

Back in 2010 Weber Shandwick released their first study, Socialising Your CEO: From (Un)Social to Social, which was one of the earliest quantitative explorations of CEO social engagement. The analysis revealed that the majority of CEOs from the world’s largest companies were not engaging online with external stakeholders and thus missing out on opportunities to deepen their company reputations and customer relations.

They have followed this up with a refreshed analysis based on last year on how the leaders of the world’s most elite companies are evolving socially. Weber Shandwick considered a CEO “social”  if he or she does at least one of the following: engages on the company website, appears in a video on the company YouTube channel, has a public and verifiable social network profile or authors an external blog.

The study finds that in the two years 2010 to 2012 use of social media has doubled from 33% to 66%, with the most popular social media channel for CEOs by far the video, posted on YouTube, the company website or webTV.

Other social networks are less influential. in fact the past two years has seen flat growth in CEOs using social networks such as Facebook to strut their stuff.

CEOs in the United States are the most sociable of their breed. About 80% of American CEOs use social media, compared to 67% in Europe and 55% in APAC.

Perhaps surprisingly, CEOs in the job for more than 3 years (79%) are much more likely to be sociable than those (48%) in the first three years of their tenure. This might suggest that CEOs do not initially make heavy of use social media to promote themselves or establish authority, preferring to use social media once they are confident in their positon and to reinforce their image.

So, read the report, do your homework and take your CEO out for a quiet drink and explain why they need to be doing more, and how internal communications will be more powerful with a CEO using social media effectively, and that the BBC, CNN, Fox or other external channels are not the be all and end all of the CEO’s telly work. Because another finding of the report is that companies with the highest reputation (81%) have CEOs who are the most sociable!

You can find the whole report here:!/thinking/library/socialising_your_ceo_ii/

Of course, if you’d prefer to read about CEO party animals, then check out this link:


Values, whose values?

Nothing like sharing values to become one big, happy family!

Nothing like sharing values to become one big, happy family!

Companies love to have their values, and there is much to be said for them. However, how these values are communicated, and whose values they are is where the trouble starts. Splendid rhetoric does not make values stick; it simply creates more communication noise. It could be said there is something insulting about how companies have traditionally gone about the business of values, as if their employees need to be told what their values are. So, here’s a little opportunity to test your leadership, or client, against this overlapping triumvirate of tell-tale signs you need to look out for to see if the values proposition needs revisiting.

1. The leadership has decided on the values!

The Problem: In other words, the HR department went to page 69 of the “How to do HR” manual and picked out a bunch of values that seemed about right. The point is, how are these values decided and how are they launched within the organization? The other point is that if you do a study of values across all businesses you will find there is great similarity, and if you do so within an industry peer group you will find they maybe have one value different from others but again very much the same. The key then is not WHAT values are chosen, but HOW they are chosen. Since the train has left this particular station in most companies, the main challenge remains how you communicate these values and engage your employees so that they embrace the company values chosen for them.

Solution: on one level values are intuitive, most people like to think they are accountable, sharing, excellent and more besides. They may well feel that being told what values they have is a little insulting, so you need to engage them on values and create an environment where employees can interpret them in a common way and share the values narrative. It is worth considering going through a more inclusive values change, if you feel the current ones have been decided too top-down. There may be an opportunity to revise your values in consultation with employees, perhaps reduce the number or change the wording.

2. We just promote the heck out of our values!

The Problem: You mean without asking employees? As in point 1, the train has usually left the station, but you can use employee surveys and polls to learn their perceptions of the values and how they translate them into their own work.  If you have taken a more inclusive approach in choosing values, the next step is to ensure there is an emotional connection. We can all have an intellectual debate about the paragon human values, but learning to live them is much more difficult. How high level values translate into the workplace is even more difficult.

Solution: broadcasting anything in Internal Communications doesn’t work, but especially so in values management. You’re looking for a connection, a dialogue around the values, so that employees can participate in how these values are lived and continue to evolve in the company.

3. If our managers will only shout loud enough the employees will live our values!

Problem: Values are chosen by senior management and reflect the leadership position and values, and what they think employees should value. As you reach through the organization you might just find this is quite a stretch. Managers need support to communicate values effectively and work with employees to find ways how they may translate values into their work, with their specific context in mind.

Solution: provide managers with adequate toolkits and training to live the values themselves and to become values managers who can encourage these values to be lived within the department, unit or team. Find regular opportunities to have dialogue on vales, and to celebrate their presence in the workplace.


I’m sure most companies will say they have a good set of values and take them seriously, but I raise the question here of whether there is only a superficial use of values and suggest we test the depth of values management with our organization. This is no time for reheated rhetoric or pious proclamation; values are much more exciting for an organization than is traditionally understood.


What Value does Internal Comms add? Try these six steps to keeping your best employees for a start!

Losing employees is an administrative burden and a cost. However, it is more than that. It is a change to dynamics in the workplace. The departure of an employee can be unsettling in

It's not happy employees but engaged ones you want to stay

It’s not happy employees but engaged ones you want to stay

the period leading up to them leaving and afterwards, plus there are issues related to whether they are leaving or being pushed.

This is no small concern, after all 40% of workers will start looking for a new job within the first half of this year, and 69% say they’re already been looking, at least keeping an eye out for opportunities. Meanwhile, people are habitually changing jobs on a regular basis, with 25- to 34-year-olds currently holding their jobs for an average 2.7 years, down from 3 years in 1983.

A Different Take on Human Capital?

A Different Take on Human Capital?

Other issues include knowledge management. You have perhaps trained those leaving, and certainly added to the skill-base they take with them. They are taking that knowledge with them, and your organization is left with the job of replenishing or salvaging what you can of their knowledge before they leave.

People leaving is also a recruitment issue about how well staff are retained, and what people say about you when they leave. Disgruntled employees and ex-employees can put off a lot of talent.

There are doubtless many other reasons you can think of why keeping your best employees is a jolly good idea, but let’s look at the role internal communications can play in doing just that, by following a five step programme.

  1. Involvement: having an internal communications approach which involves employees keeps their sense of belonging, and has the added attraction of making it harder for them to make a break. However, it’s not happyemployees you want (though it’s nice when they’re happy), but engaged and involved employees.
  2. Value: valuing employees, not just financially but in terms of what they contribute, goes a long way and has to move beyond the rhetoric of “values” to provide the support to help employees value each other in their day-to-day work through their words and actions.
  3. Work/Life balance: promoting a work/life balance and supporting leisure or rest away from work communicates values far more than any campaign slogan can achieve. The boasts of “look how hard I’m working!” or “I was working until 2am!” are not attitudes that play out so well today, and behaving in this way can be counterproductive in any case.
  4. Reward: it’s one thing to advocate reward, it’s another to do so effectively. This is not just about pay packets, people feel rewarded in many ways at work. Company awards, recognition in the internal magazine, a chance to speak at the company annual staff meeting are among the various ways you can communicate reward. People are rewarded not just by money but also by their experience of being an employee, and this is often forgotten.
  5. The path ahead: how inspiring are your internal communications? Do they tell the story of what your organization is doing? If employees can visualize their future in the organization they are more likely to stay.

As with all things, internal communications overlaps with other functions when you look at the implications of this five-step programme, but one value you can offer immediately is to start the dialogue internally that can shape the future.

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

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