This post seemed to have a struck a chord with many professionals and apart from the comments which came to the blog I was impressed by the numerous recommendations that people shared on Linkedin communities. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this discussion.
For the benefit of all I will distill the thoughts shared into themes and tangible suggestions that internal communicators can use while thinking more about the ‘Big Picture’.
Gaining consensus through employee participation: One communicator mentioned that the ‘top-down’ approach doesn’t work since employees aren’t engaged sufficiently in the evolution of the ‘Big Picture’. Therefore a ‘ground-up’ approach is ideal in tandem with the top-down plan works best.
Keeping things simple: By avoiding jargon such as ‘Big Picture’ and focusing on gaining a common understanding will lead to better connection with the company’s story.
Look for a win-win scenario: The goals of both the organization and employees must be met for the long term strategies to succeed. Goal sharing must be direct and transparent and trickle down to departments in the organization. There must be ways to reduce conflicts at the workplace and avoid overlaps in objectives that dilute effectiveness.
Address the ‘What’s In It For Me’ for employees: Speak clearly and often. Reference the long term vision in conversations. Also, focus on the individual tactics that can make the vision come alive. Address the question – ‘how do I fit in?’ and ‘what are my benefits?’
Create the ‘Big Picture’: To help employees ‘get’ the Big Picture a suggestion was to create the Big Picture! Visually depict what it would look like once the organization gets there. Through interactive
Demonstrate positive intent: There are many obstacles and challenges to getting to the Big Picture but those can be circumvented if all relevant stakeholders are involved in the debate early and resolve differences head-on. Risk averseness, cost cutting and other factors stifle organizations from achieving their goals. Keep messages simple and clear.
Facilitate understanding: You may not be able to please all my simplifying your messages but it pays in the long run. Storytelling is the ideal route to get employee buy-in. Help employees see the value of where they want to get to by talking from the ‘listener’s point of view’.
Leverage the power of influential communications: Research points to 7 elements that can help audiences get the Big Picture: data, logic, future condition, personal benefits, stories, humor and emotional connection. It seems that attempting to cover all will get communicators the best impact.
It takes leadership: Employees tend to follow leaders who demonstrate ‘character’ and ‘do things right’. The rest is important but will follow.
Pratap has every reason to believe he is going to face resistance with this new strategy. It isn’t easy for employees to truly understand where the company is heading and how they can contribute if leaders aren’t consistent.
That said, there are many ways that Pratap can make employees stay connected to the Big Picture. To begin, he can evaluate if the new strategy is aligned to the company’s values. Do his employees believe in the new positioning and strategy?
He will need to build credibility for his leadership by having them demonstrate how they will help get the company to achieve the vision. What are the behaviors they will need to adopt that will help improve the bottom-line and live the new positioning of ‘making the world a healthier place’. For example, are they following healthy practices – investing in healthier lifestyles, exercising, using the company’s equipment responsibly and inspiring others to use them as well?
He can create a series of ‘inside stories’ that showcases the leadership ‘making the world around them healthier’. Pratap needs to get his leadership front and center of his employees and clarify their questions.
For example, how can the employees on the shop floors or in the retail outlets or in the marketing teams contribute to the company’s vision? By the way they now approach customers, the way they package the equipment and how the sell the products. Each employee can be enlisted as a brand ambassador for the company and lead the way by spreading the word via their social circles.
Pratap can facilitate workshops that reinforces pride and educates employees on the brand – as to what makes Mark Ltd special and why is the brand better than what others in the market. Getting employees to act on your brand promise means they need to understand the requisite behaviors well.
He can craft case studies drawing the connection of an employee’s life with how it translates into tangible impact to the company’s revenues. For example, someone in HR can invest time in hiring the right candidate based on attributes which get the ‘best culture’ fit. In the process the employee saves the company in rehiring and training costs that impacts the bottom line. Likewise, an employee in a retail outlet can share perspectives on health when customers visit the store and draw their attention the company’s larger vision.
Pratap can partner with the marketing team to share how we are engaging our stakeholders and how this new positioning is transforming their lives.
However, painting the town red with messages will not add as much value as a leader who can give clear directions and walks the talk. Employees will see through the gimmickry in no time and the internal brand will suffer.