Following on from my blog yesterday ‘What does the future hold for Internal Communications – Melcrum Live Part1′, here is the second part of the conference…

Using your intranet to prove your worth in Internal Communications

Kelly Freeman gave an energetic and insightful talk on how Internal Communication teams could prove their worth via their intranet.

Until 10 days ago, Kelly was the Internal Communications Manager at Superdrug but has now joined Interact as a leading Intranet Strategist to support the professional services side of our company.

Kelly discussed how her career had taken shape and working closely with CEOs for a long time she realised the importance of filtering messages from the top out to a dispersed workforce who may be unaware of the business objectives. She started off at Superdrug doing a CEO blog and regular staff briefings but it wasn’t until doing an employee survey that they realised big changes needed to happen in the business.

The survey revealed Senior Managers were not very good at listening and they could push messages out but there was no opportunity to get feedback. 60% of employees wanted two-way communication and were digital savvy so they wanted a platform to use to aid this.

The issue was – as many find – time, people resource and money. Kelly discussed how using Interact Intranet meant as the only person in Internal Communications she could achieve everything she needed to via this digital communications and collaborative platform.

Challenges facing internal communicators

Aligning to business objectives

Kelly discussed how to make internal communications and their intranet a success she had to link everything to key business objectives in order to get buy-in from senior management. She decided to select the objectives that could have the biggest impact:

  1. Simple, efficient processes
  2. Sales growth – never before had Internal Communications been linked to this

But how did they achieve this through Internal Communications?

Simple, efficient processes

To achieve an improvement in this area they set up a business ideas forum on their intranet to allow all staff to come up with ideas to improve processes within Head Office and Retail Stores.

Kelly used a small print campaign at low cost to drive people to the forum and this gave them an instant channel where they could come up with ideas, ask questions and discuss topics.

They posed the questions:

  1. What are you doing in your job that you don’t need to be doing?
  2. What processes take a lot of time that could be simplified or changed?

Experts were used to moderate the forum – with someone from Marketing, HR and IT – and their job was to dip in and out a few times a week and have a conversation with people and ensure people got feedback about their idea and to tease out great ideas that could be actioned quickly.

This offered a great way to crowd source ideas and provide a dialogue with people they would never have otherwise spoken to. Moderators got alerted when something new was posted and the unique interface made it easy to see who had an idea, comment or question.

The most useful part of the forum was the share function, enabling the experts to tag someone else into a conversation, removing the need for emailing, phoning or something that may not effectively reach them and would take too long to provide an answer.

Online forum

A simple idea perhaps but it quickly achieved the following results:

  • Over 150 new ideas in the first 6 weeks
  • Ranging from simple to fix to big ideas
  • Able to fix small problems that cause big issues
  • Connected staff to knowledge experts
  • Encouraged new users to the intranet
  • Intranet seen as a engagement tool
  • Communications seen as an enabler
  • Greater support for the forum going forward
  • Linked to reward & recognition programme

Supporting Product Launches

The second idea Kelly discussed was their objective to help with sales growth by improving how they support product launches.

The idea was that the better informed the retail staff were the better the sales on new products. Kelly decided the intranet was a great tool for this and set up a campaign around the new product Fresh Skin by Elemis.

They offered each staff member the chance to get a free Elemis Skincare package by going to their intranet and taking a quiz online that would test their knowledge, drive awareness about the new product and help them sell more of it.

The results:

Melcrum3

 

These projects on their intranet weren’t rocket science but helped achieve business objectives and ensure internal communications was seen as a key part of the company’s long-term success.

Kelly finished off her talk with key takeaways:

  • Connect your intranet objectives to your business objectives
  • Be prepared to get your hands dirty
  • Talk about it constantly; get support
  • Get into the stats and share them
  • Review, make recommendations and refine
  • Celebrate your successes

 

The Interactive Session – Future Proofing Internal Communications

Involve an Employee Engagement Agency ran an interactive session to pick everyone up after lunch.

The session involved the audience getting into groups and imagining the CEO of their company had decided to outsource their team, in internal communications, to an agency and now they have to pitch to get their role back.

Each team had 25 mins to put together a pitch which addressed the four questions:

  1. What challenges do the next three years hold for your communication team in your sector?
  2. How would you describe the services you offer to your ‘client’?
  3. If you deliver successfully, what will change in business as a result of your work?
  4. What techniques will you use to bring about this change?

Here are some of the interesting answers that came from the different teams:

1. Challenges for your communications team:

  • Speed of communication and accessibility
  • Less budget, need to be more commercial and digital needs to take priority to deliver on this
  • Enabling employees to embrace change
  • Facilitating change throughout the business
  • Communicating to customer facing employees
  • Having consistent messages
  • Engaging diverse workforces

2. How would you describe your services:

  • Want people to see there are different ways to communicate and help businesses get more out of their people by empowering them.
  • Knowing how to connect to each other and the experts so they can get best out of their working environment.
  • Want to make everything measurable and trackable
  • Facilitate business change through collaboration and ensure the solution we deliver is responsive and engaging to employees
  • Understand their role in delivering a good customer experience which drives increase in revenue
  • Embed more efficient processes

3. If you deliver successfully what will be the results:

  • Higher engagement, increased productivity so great return on investment for yourself.
  • Improved staff retention to reduce recruitment and training costs
  • Increase in staff morale
  • Clear direction and employees clear on business objectives
  • Deliver a more engaged workforce that can handle issues as they arrive

4. What techniques will you use to bring about change:

  • Introduce multi-integrated online platforms and ensure employees can access these any time, anywhere
  • Deliver tailored messages to individuals and not bombard with irrelevant messages
  • Build evaluation in from the start so know the results we are achieving
  • Collaboration main focus and make use of new technologies whilst not forgetting face to face comms via focus groups etc
  • Bring a more digitally enhanced workplace
  • Make leaders far more visible so people know who they are and can communicate with them and engage in new ideas and improved practices

I thought it was really interesting how all the groups saw digital channels being a key part of their future strategy. An intranet is crucial to this and needs to be a tool that everyone can use and engage with in order to bring business benefits such as increasing revenue and reducing costs.

Overall a great session which really made Internal Communcation professionals think about the benefits they are delivering to their company and how to future proof their position.

 

The Evolution of Internal Communication

Sophie Sheppard, Head of Relationship Management, Melcrum delivered an engaging and amusing talk that threw a number of questions out to the audience to answer.

What is internal communications? Audience answered:

  • Dialogue
  • Translation
  • The response you get
  • Connecting
  • Inspiring
  • Supporting
  • Motivating
  • Being tough skinned

What’s changed? Audience answered:

  • Speed of life
  • Technology
  • Expectations
  • People
  • Financial situation

Internal communications is difficult to define and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing but we have to acknowledge it and learn to understand it to help build a successful career.

Sophie then asked were there any awful jobs that internal communicators had to carry out, which gave some amazing and very amusing answers, such as; washing several thousand strawberries for an internal event, carrying a Chief Executives change of clothes in case she wanted to change and stitching the MD back into his superman costume when it spit down the back!

I suppose this shows that as an internal communications person you have had to carry out jobs not necessarily on the job spec and the role is incredibly varied! However, these time intensive jobs need to be for the right reasons.

Think about the activities that make up your day? Is it aligned to the value of the business? This goes back to ensuring whatever you do make sure it adds to the value of the business. Look at the goals, the strategy, the vision.

Finally, the audience were asked to carry out a personal activity to create a four quadrant diagram and fill out what you are doing that is tactical, strategic, advising and implementation.

Overall it was a great day and extremely well ran by the team at Melcrum. I highly recommend these events for any Internal Communication professionals who want to make a difference and move quickly with the changing landscape we face in the business world.

Finally, I just wanted to say congratulations to Marc Whittingham from RBS who won an iPad mini competition from us because they told us of their biggest Internal Communications Challenge.

Here are just some of the biggest challenges we were told about on the day:

  • Maintaining employee engagement in times of continuous change
  • Getting people to use the intranet
  • Measuring the impact of our communications
  • Communicating with dispersed colleagues/ mobile interactions
  • Keeping up with increasing demand. Implementing collaboration tools

Also, interestingly the average rating people gave their intranet out of 10 was 5 with 95% using SharePoint! More to come on this soon.