After over a year, the leadership blog (internal corporate blog) aimed at employees is gaining momentum at my organization. I wanted to share insights on how we began, progress we made and personal learning. In case you are planning to champion a blog in your organization (training, business, engagement, CSR among others), I hope these insights give you information you can use.
The blog (hosted on the company intranet) was initially created as a channel for the CEO to post messages and interact with employees. The company went through organizational changes and to suit the inclusive style of the new leader the blog was expanded to allow a pool of writers to contribute. The leadership team took turns to pen their thoughts on how they perceived the company through their own eyes.
The ‘leader’ blog was an attempt to capitalize on ‘personality’ within organization, open a new channel of communication and provide an opportunity to “be real” and allow interactions. We expected to measure the impact of this exercise through direct comments from readers, fruitful conversations, ‘good will’ and increased engagement.
The posts range from the leaders’ business interactions to the team’s charter, from a personal account of the Mumbai 26/11 attacks to the company’s employee volunteering initiatives. The leadership was provided access to manage the blog in a DIY (do it yourself) model with e-mail communication templates to use after the posts went live.
The blog gets promoted in a roll-up newsletter, in Town Hall sessions and team meetings. The blog was measured by the readership, the feedback posted and the quality of the conversations. When I created a business case for blogging internally, I leveraged this interesting blogging success formula from Inside the Cubicle: “Personal voice + Accessibility + Relevant and timely information = Employee Engagement.”
In my role as the internal communications consultant I sow ideas on blog topics and relevant themes. Also my responsibility is to review the blog draft for consistency, language, redundancy, accuracy, company verbiage and opportunity to recognize employees. That apart, I look for avenues to build a conversation, address people concerns, manage the tone of voice, add context to the current environment, link to other company updates and help improve the human connection. I believe that the personal ‘touch’ occurs only when it is penned by the leader and not ‘ghost’ written.
Overcoming resistance to blogging: Often leaders shy away from blogging because they think it may ‘give away’ their true self. It was a struggle initially to get leaders to understand the benefits of blogging not just to be seen as friendly and approachable but also to be known as personalities or mentors people could look up to. Often I hear the comment that employees know me already, why do I need to blog?
Verbiage and small things that matter: In a post the leader drafted a message on a recent ‘offsite’ where the team ‘had fun’. I had to step back and understand the context. Finally we edited it to make it read more appropriate ‘also had fun’. Though I would have preferred to use the phrase ‘team huddle’ instead of ‘offsite’, we let it be since we wanted to be direct and honest in our communication. During a recession, having an offsite when all funds are scrutinized can be perceived differently by your employees.
Your readers are discerning: One leader had begun his post mentioning ‘I am a facilitator of our induction program’ while he was in fact ‘one of the facilitators’. To readers, the leader would have come across as pompous though he did not mean it that way.
Demonstrate that blogging is easy: Most leaders want to know how the blogs notes evolve. I usually share work in progress drafts and inputs which I provide to enhance the notes. This aids other leaders to begin thinking in a certain direction on how to pen their own posts. I reference external blogs that are well written to stimulate their thinking as well.
Promote the blog often: I highlight the importance of the blog and employee engagement during workshops and team meetings. I try to find visible spots for the blog in the company newsletter and on the intranet. It is a widely recognized channel for interaction today in the organization.
Taking feedback seriously: As soon as we discovered a theme emerging from the comments posted, a discussion between the leadership and the internal communication team led to a concrete action plan. The feedback providers were intimated and the progress shared proactively.
In the long run, we are hoping to reduce e-mail communication and have the blog as a preferred mode of communication.
Have other ideas from your experience on leveraging an internal corporate blog? Interested to hear from you.
PS: I am proud to announce that Intraskope completed 150 posts since I began blogging in 2006. The blog statistics report 297 comments and over 27500 page views. I would like to thank all my readers for your feedback and encouragement.