Leaders Should Communicate the Organization’s Performance

Have you ever noticed how quickly employees seem to know something about a change before anyone has begun to communicate what is happening? Even in the best of organizations, the slightest change creates havoc because people don’t know the whole story, or how it will impact them personally, and they feel insulted because they are often the last to hear the news.

According to a 2018 Gallup Poll based on a random sample of over 30,000 full- and part-time U.S. employees, 53% of workers are not engaged and 13% are just plain unhappy. That 53% do the minimum required but will quickly leave their company for a slightly better offer. This is our workforce today, in a time of scarcity for talent in many industries.

So, whose job is it in your business to communicate the big picture (culture, vision, and business goals, as well as major changes and crisis)? The leaders, defined as the CEO, president, and officers of the organization, though I will be the first to say, any “leaders” in the organization are those who lead well.  In this case, those who create or respond to the big picture directly impact the results of communicating the organization’s performance.

I recently presented this overview to a group of leaders in Hampton Roads and was so encouraged by the interest and input for getting this core responsibility right! There are many reasons why leaders don’t communicate the performance of the company such as fear of saying the wrong message or not understanding the value of communicating performance throughout the entire organization, but taking the time to focus on this competency will make a significant difference next time there is a crisis or a downturn your industry.

When I watch TV, if I am not watching the news, I am totally wrapped in a mystery, murder, adventure so I am going to ask you to consider how you can nail your narrative with CSI! Here are three aspects of creating messages for communicating important information:

CREDIBLE: People need to believe your narrative. A recent SHRM 2017 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement study showed that while 61% of employees rated trust as very important to their job satisfaction, only 33% were very satisfied with their level of trust toward their organizations.

SIMPLE: Many strategic narratives fail because they are too long or too complex.

INSPIRING: Why should people care? How does this impact their work? Keep in mind, that people make decisions every minute based on their hearts and their minds.

The faster the world becomes, the more we need leaders to be master communicators, identifying the gaps, monitoring effectiveness, mentoring with model behaviors, and evaluate the outcomes. This ongoing effort creates the strategy for a leader’s narrative…the messages which clarify and motivate for a cohesive understanding of the big picture AND all the activity which impacts the bottom line, turnover rates, productivity and much more.

If you would like to discuss with me in more depth about your specific challenges in communicating performance, please call to arrange for a complimentary consultation: 757-513-8633 or susan@managingcommunications.com.

Is Your Website Dead?

We hear how it won’t be long until branding is totally through social media or voice communications using the likes of Alexa. While much of may be true, are you going to take out the Ouija board to figure out when? Meanwhile, does it make sense to keep your current strategies up-to-date and useful as possible? We think so…

Our clients often start working with us because of their website. For some, they never update the site because they don’t have time or it’s so old. We often hear, “We only use because it is on our business cards or to respond when someone asks for one, because it would look really bad if we didn’t have one, right?” MCC then takes it to the next level…whether that is updating, adding relevant pages or starting all over to clean up an old HTML site.

The bottom line is you are saying volumes about your reputation, your values, and how you work when you have a website that isn’t competitive. The message is probably not what you want.

Here is what is important to start getting serious about your website:

Keep your content up-to-date. Your potential visitors and even technology such as Google do not like to see dated material. If they look at your blog or news page and see that you have nothing new for several months, you are showing a lack of attention to your business. If you say you have been in business for 15 years and it now has been 20…well, you have just lost a few years of value to some of your audience. If your website links to a Facebook page that you never update, again you are leaving a bad impression.

Make sure it is easy and logical to move around your site. You may have a new focus for products or services that your sales rep is talking about in meetings, but you don’t have it on your site in your list of services. Is it easy for your audience to know what is on a page? Do you have links that make sense to additional, related pages?

Mobile and Uncluttered. They kind of go together. There is specific design and technical elements to consider in making your website mobile. Additional, if you are still using an old HTML type site, you probably are not thinking about mobile at all…and today, that’s where you will be found the most often. Survey your tribe to find out what information is most important to them in searches from phones and other mobile devices.

Repurposing content does not mean repeating content. Simply repeating the same content on different website pages or repeating a blog you wrote five years ago shows a lack of ideas and thought. Repurposing content has a lot of opportunities but takes some planning. Try reusing your most popular posts or blogs using Google analytics to determine what is working for you. Take an old topic, give it a new title and new examples to support your key messages. Break down a longer blog or article into separate blogs based for highly targeted audiences.

If you would like more ideas on how to improve your website, we would love to talk. Our services include:

  • Conducting an audit and report on the design and content of your website in relationship to your goals.
  • Build, redesign, or expand your website.
  • Identify creative ideas for visuals, pages, topics to engage your audiences.
  • Develop new, impactful content and visuals.
  • Write and maintain your blog and news while cross marketing with your social media.
  • Create and manage landing pages for offers and special promotions.
  • Identify opportunities for blogs, articles, and case studies…from interviewing key personnel or customers to writing the final, approved content.
  • Increase loading speeds and apply special applications such as intranets, ecommerce, and other technical aspects of website development.

For more information about content and technology management, visit our website www.managingcommunications.com

Content repurposed! But how?

Sometimes it’s not enough to simply boost a post on social media to reach a broad audience and to draw attention to a desired number of targets. That scenario is called “revamping”. In this case the content is used for the same purpose as it was used for originally.

Since the content we want to communicate seems important to our brand or a specific service/product, it is most likely information focused, written to be understood by the audiences who will make the most use of it, whether that means sharing it or engaging them to some sort of action.  We spent a lot of time creating the initial post, for example, so why not reuse it with updates to keep it interesting?  When the information is to be delivered a second or third time, a different channel of communication is the way to go. When we repurpose, we want to keep our subject attractive and relevant. We are changing the format of the content and we are in some instances, changing the target audience.

There are multiple options for repurposing content, but take into consideration, that learning styles of individuals vary, and that ties closely to the way a person should be approached with our messages.  A safe and economical use of content is most likely to engage more frequency with different people. Visual-, aural-, verbal-, physical-, logical-, or social learning styles can be catered to with the right tool. The goal is to be most influential and efficient, so the audience remembers and is interested in our actual content.

Assuming the first use of the material was for a blog to create awareness, it can now be communicated a second time with modifications using a daily email series to push the audience into a state of consideration and can then for example be molded in an in-depth webinar to trigger a decision.

Let’s say you own a painting company, and you want to target high-end homeowners who are renovating their older homes. You have two audiences but can often repurpose content for both and even engage both in some of the same content. What can you develop from that original visual of your work or message you posted about completing work within three days? How do you explain that because of your expertise, experience, and techniques you will save them the pain and time of doing it themselves?  You will need to dive deeper into content. What does it take to strip a wall with old wallpaper? How do you decide what color schemes will have the most impact in painting a room? Once you have enough content, you can create a series on a theme and then deliver it in a timely manner. Each key message can then be expanded and repurposed for other media such as a podcast, a video or the content for a webinar.

These are only three examples of presenting content to potential customers. “You can take that blog post and make it a GIF, or a Periscope, or a Tweet, or an Instagram Story, or an infographic, or a podcast.” And much more.

Different learning styles are tied to different persona segments and different stages of buyers, so it can be tricky to find the right mix. Only certain target segments can be catered to at the same time. The painting company would probably also like to engage the construction companies who renovate the structure of rooms in these homes to gain referrals or direct contracts. With every repeat and refocus of content we ideally reach a new audience with our multi-channel marketing.

Start thinking of all the different channels we have for repurposing content. The best way to handle this is to research what your target audiences read or where they spend their time. Select one or two new channels and monitor the results. Here are some of the channels to consider:

  • Articles in publications
  • Presentations
  • Infographic
  • Instructographic
  • Social media platforms
  • Repost on Quora
  • Daily tips for any channels
  • eBook
  • Guest post or blog
  • Podcast
  • Webinar
  • One pager or case study for your website
  • Slide share
  • Template with guide
  • Video
  • How to Checklist for Landing Page

Communicating Culture and Values While Onboarding New Hires

Whether your organization is a small startup or a Fortune 500 corporation, the time to acclimate new hires with an understanding of your culture and values is during onboarding. There is a lot of talk these days about onboarding, and just so you know more about our philosophy, employee orientation is not the same as onboarding. You might stop me here and say, look we don’t have a lot of time to waste, and we just need to get a new hire “to work”. However, when you consider the cost of that first six months or a year, it doesn’t take long to figure out that communications of what you stand for, believe in, and what’s important should begin even before a new hire arrives, even from the interviewing stage.

Have you ever arrived at a new employer on day one to find yourself spending most of the day filling out paperwork, watching videos and reading the employee handbook? I have heard of employees sitting in their space for two or three days before meeting an interested peer or an executive. I was asked in my first week on one new position to prepare the communications plan for terminating fifteen employees before I had a clue as to what the culture of the company was and how the values played into such operational decisions.

Onboarding tends to be a one-way street without planning the communications which will make the processes result in positive outcomes.  We tell new employees what we expect of them, where they will sit, how to do their timecard, and a bit about who’s who. Most well-developed onboarding programs focus on training and often, mentoring, with metrics for evaluating progress. It seems to me that onboarding should include opportunities for new hires to understand the culture and values so that they can fit in from the onset. Two-way conversations uncover the value the new hire brings to the organization as well as the how we already work as a team.

Culture is communicated through words and actions with the person who is our supervisor, senior leadership, employees with whom we interact, and sometimes even vendors or long-standing customers. What would your onboarding look like if the newly hired employee could build relationships from the very beginning with a wide range of people who understand your culture?

In addition to building into a new hire’s first days a chance to meet with human resources and the immediate supervisor, would it be possible for a CEO hosted lunch or tour of the building? In organizations with large populations, where new hires often begin during the same week, is it possible to have different interesting employees from each business unit come in to tell their story, from their perspective, about the culture and how certain values make them feel engaged on their teams?

Have you ever started a new position and felt left out of some of the unspoken rules or history that team members share? One way to bring new employees into the company is to pick a couple of simple work habits for them to talk about early on. For example, ask new hires to write down what they like to drink at work such as coffee (and how they like it), tea, bottled water, and how often. Not everyone’s coffee maker or vending machine works the same, so sharing from their simple daily lifestyle habits makes it easy to start two-way conversations.

Remember, having new hires may even cause some silent stress for your employees. Don’t assume that the attention on new hires during onboarding is always understood by others. Even though they understand that an individua would not have been hired if their qualifications didn’t fit, but how will their personality or values align? The more you encourage opportunities to build relationships through that first year, the more likely work will be productive.

If you would like to work on new strategies to communicate and engage employees in your culture, please let me know so we can schedule a time to chat.

Reboot Between Holidays to Make the Most of 2019

I have found that the time between Christmas (or Hanukah) and New Years can be most productive in researching and planning strategies to kick start January! After all the hustle, entertainment, and excuses for not being focused, it is a great time to get away from the holiday mode to get strategic for the new year.

No strategic marketing plan beyond goals for 2019? You are not alone. Most companies have some goals in their business plan which address quantitative measures to reach, but few bring it on down to the strategies which will help them realize the outcomes they want. Just consider digital strategic planning, a strategy which is increasingly being used to build relationships with customers. Most statistics probably look like the Managing Digital Marketing in 2017 produced by Smart Insights: Only 34% of participants said they have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy which is integrated in their overall marketing strategy, and 47% do not have any defined strategy for the digital marketing they are doing. I question whether 2018 will show a significant change.

So, what I think is important to do with those days between holidays, whether you are responsible for marketing in a large enterprise, competing as a small business owner, or simply trying to launch a new business, requires spending a few hours in the following areas:

Think about 2018 accomplishments and failures. Pick five for each. Which are significant in 2019 to either expand or get right?

Research. You don’t know what you don’t know. Read at least one book on your industry, thought leadership, marketing, or workforce and culture. Hold it in your hands, turn down important pages and either underline, highlight or even better create a document of must keep, must do, must think about more. Organize all those emails and documents you kept and haven’t done anything with yet. Review these and apply them to your top accomplishments and failures. Get rid of what doesn’t apply between 2019 and 2020 because the rest will probably never be important, or your work life will change so much that those won’t be relevant.

Bring it on down. I have lived long enough to know that what we practice becomes better and real. Take one strategy and matrix it with why it is important, what tactics must be done, who can help you or take the lead for it, what obstacles do you expect and how to handle them, define timelines, and identify how you are going to measure your outcomes. Notice that I didn’t say a goal, but instead, one strategy. You will be practicing what you should do with all strategies for your goal. Think micro. You will also feel so good about accomplishing something real!

That’s it. Three or four days with three or four hours each day will help you to reboot for 2019! One more thought…share it! The more you communicate, the more likely it will become part of you, that personal brand, which defines who you are and the passion you have to make things happen.

Break a leg (not literally) and pat yourself on the back, however you do that, with something new or time with friends and family or just a little treat!

Civility in Social Media Communications

We have all experience some level of incivility while hanging out on social media. Seems to be increasing and don’t assume it is just interactions between teens. Maybe we have even made a few mistakes ourselves in communicating which have hurt friends, created silent barriers, or diminished how we are perceived to others.

According to preliminary results from Microsoft’s study “Civility, Safety and Interactions Online – 2018,” 63 percent of online risks were sourced from strangers and people whom respondents knew only online – largely unchanged from the previous year. The results also show that 28 percent of online risks came from family and friends.

The reasons for each of these results might be somewhat different. Social media is an excellent resource for people to show inappropriate language, request information they might not normally ask a stranger or share openly feelings about the “friend’s” political, religious or other beliefs and experiences. There is a sense of freedom, or maybe even entitlement. We have certainly seen the result of incivility in trying to influence the opinions of others.

The results indicating that online incivility with family and friends is obviously the “can’t say it to their face” syndrome or a need for others to share their pain. You know, let’s just rally the family against the relative who has made a bad decision. Often, we become even more insensitive when we think we are being helpful.

Communicating in social media brings out the best or the worst behaviors. It gives us a forum for dialogue about important issues or educate us on important how-tos, where to find… and much more. It also allows us to not only put the laundry out on the street, but gravel in it, and then when we don’t get the feedback we want, to be hurt or angry.

Social media can be a place for lies, propaganda, and even rationality for the actions of some very bad actors. Scams, false identities, a world of assumptions easily take center-stage.

So, if you want to be an advocate of social media or need to use if for any number of communication needs, how can you increase the expectation of civility? This is the opportunity we each have in our online interactions.

Here are a few of the areas I aspire to in my own social media efforts:

  • Ignore and delete requests on social media to be my friend when I don’t see that they know several people I know. I don’t need to be flattered into thinking that these good-looking men with very little on their profiles is interested in a relationship. In this case I don’t need to respond.
  • Accept the people who don’t follow my rules. Social media is a free place to share your political views, religion and try to sell your products or services. I will sometimes kindly tell you how I feel and sometimes I will just ignore you. My perceptions of you are being developed, and if you are being pushy, condescending, or erroneous, well, the perceptions may not be so favorable, but no harm done, right?
  • Try not to respond in anger or disrespect. Count to ten. They may not be asking me for my opinion. I have probably not walked in their shoes, or if I have, it was a long time ago, so life may not have been in the “good ole days” and times have changed.
  • If I just must make a comment, I hope to make it kindly and in an only-my-opinion way. When you say to, “To be honest…” you probably have already lost their attention.

Overall, we are what we think. If I can share more positive thoughts than negative, that is not only civil, it is an opportunity to impact how our society thinks. If I can express myself without cussing and focus on other ways to set the tone of my words and feelings, well, I am hopefully helping others to get over their problems, not support staying in the murky water. If I consider myself a kind, intelligent, helpful person, then I will pay attention to my typos, expressions, and what I share. Focusing on our own beliefs and values will naturally make us more civil in our communications.

On World Kindness Day and in gearing up for Safer Internet Day, On World Kindness Day and in gearing up for Safer Internet Day, we’re again encouraging global internet users to pledge to a Digital Civility Challenge based on these principles:

  1. Live the Golden Rule by acting with empathy, compassion and kindness in every interaction, and treating everyone you connect with online with dignity and respect.
  2. Respect differences, honor diverse perspectives and when disagreements surface, engage thoughtfully, and avoid name-calling and personal attacks.
  3. Pause before replying to things you disagree with, and don’t post or send anything that could hurt someone, damage reputations or threaten someone’s safety.
  4. Stand up for yourself and others by supporting those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty, reporting threatening activity and preserving evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behavior.

If you would like to learn more about this challenge, check out this link: https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2018/11/13/peoples-online-social-circles-are-becoming-riskier-new-microsoft-research-shows/

If you would like to participate in a training session in 2019 on Communicating Civility in Social Media which will go deep into how to make the best possible perceptions and impact how people view civility, email me to be on my list to contact!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding LinkedIn Metrics 101

Social media is an important component of today’s various forms of communication in everyday life among different generations and people of different origin around the world. While some platforms are casual, for sharing personal posts like photos and small blogs, others are for professional use. The currently most popular professional social media, especially for B-to-B branding is LinkedIn.

With LinkedIn it is possible to manage contacts, grow a business or career with LinkedIn, and it has assisted many to land a job. Therefore, it is important that your profile is set up right and there is value in the content you are sharing. The page needs to be handled and maintained properly. Following some basic rules, like adequate posting and intelligent and polite conversation is crucial.

Other convincing factors for using LinkedIn among others are that the software is easy to use and offers efficient marketing and cross-marketing to certain target.

You need to understand who your connections are and could be rather than randomly hanging out on LinkedIn. Your targets (prospects, referral sources, and influencers) can be identified with excellent functions for studying your metrics. The LinkedIn page keeps track on visited your profile and other factors that are user specific. Who is seeing post or likes, comments, and shares? One of the best places to start understanding your connections and to what degree you are reaching your targets is on your Dashboard. Here are just a few functions you should explore:

  • From your profile page, see your Dashboard. Click on who viewed your profile.
  • Go to Search Appearances. See number of times your profile appeared in search results (shows for a week)
  • Review companies, job descriptions, and key words searchers used.
  • Click on a key word you which you think best supports your brand.

If you are in Hampton Roads, Virginia, the Chamber is hosting a workshop, Making LinkedIn Support Your Brand, which I am presenting. Find details on our website Events listing. We hope you will join us. Be sure to talk soon if you would like to learn more about our training and consulting within the United States.

Worth Your While: Social Media Metrics & Gaining LinkedIn ROI

Be sure to register for our upcoming workshop!

Grow your network, your business and your career opportunities with LinkedIn. Learn the tools and techniques for measuring your social media effectiveness and especially, get a grip on strategies for building better content and targeting to engage your key connections. Join us for a deep dive to learn how to rock your profile, find your next job, generate leads, engage in social selling, and connect with important influencers online all while focusing on getting the biggest return for your time.

Our Agenda:

8:30-8:45 Meet and Greet and Welcome from our Host, Dixie Benton, BridgeTrust Title Group

8:45-9:30 Social Media Metrics with Jessica Bedenbaugh

9:30-10:15—Gaining LinkedIn ROI with Susan Long-Molnar

10:15-10:30—Small group conversations on specific topics

Download the flyer and register soon at

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/worth-your-while-social-media-metrics-gaining-linkedin-roi-tickets-49428360557

Contact Susan Long-Molnar at 757-513-8633 for more information.

Employee Communications Onsite Lunch & Grow Workshops

Crush Personal Development this Summer Onsite for Employees! Are your employees forgetting how to be courteous in their emails? Do they seem unsure about how much to communicate or what tool to use? Or maybe you have observed that communicating more effectively across generations and genders could be helpful in your organization? We often think that the training department or the HR department will get around to these often called “soft skills” but when it comes to day-to-day operations, the topics below just get dropped off the task list. The truth is these skills are not soft at all, and when we focus more on these areas, we will see more productivity and better relations within the workplace. We hope you will review presenter, Susan Long-Molnar’s bio and check out the details and topic list you can download on our flyer!