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Via Forbes : How To Standardize Corporate Communication

Corporate communication has never been an easy or straightforward matter. The business world sees professionals from all different backgrounds interacting in bustling, stressful environments — the sheer diversity of languages, rhetorical behaviors and personality types is enough to make one’s head spin. This Tower of Babel-esque situation has been dramatically compounded in the modern age, with modes, mediums, technologies and platforms of communication proliferating at breakneck speeds.

Whether it’s public relations or internal communications, directors, managers and executives who oversee the written and spoken words of an organization face one doozy of a task. Rather than discussing specific social media marketing tactics or another listicle on how to speak to your employees, let us take a moment to evaluate general tactics and considerations that help to identify balanced, efficient common-speak in today’s corporate landscape.

Adaptation: A Two-Way Street

An effective, centralized communications strategy balances how much the business adapts to the employees entering the workplace and to what degree those professionals will be expected to adapt to the communications culture of the company. Despite sitting at the foundation of corporate communications, this balance is seldom discussed and (likely) rarely discussed in a corporate boardroom.

I work at a company that certainly falls into the territory of a Babel-esque communication risk, as countless backgrounds and personality types are represented – techies, salespeople, literary types, nerds, jocks – you name it, we got it. Internal communications are one matter, but client interactions are an entirely different story, as we primarily work with some of the finest rhetoricians around — attorneys. Long proposals, quick emails and all communications in between are scrutinized in epic fashion, especially given the sensitivity of the work we complete.

Somehow we managed to find ways to speak the same language, all while building and maintaining exceptional relationships with our clientele. Like so many other businesses that made the jump from startup to midsize in the proverbial blink of the eye, the communications culture crept out of the primordial ooze and blossomed into this cosmic, unified language that (incredibly) worked for everyone.

As a business grows, its language and communications culture will have to adapt and transform but remain standardized at any given time to avoid minor to major issues with corporate efficiency, performance and progress.

This is where the two-way-street element of corporate communications culture comes into play. First, the language needs to grow and refine itself naturally. Then, leaders must take purposeful, substantive steps to keep it all under control, adding in some clear definitions and essentially turning abstract culture into firm policies of sorts.

Standardization: People, Process, Technology

Any strategy will live and die with its functional ability to unify people, process and technology. As such, communications policies and strategies must swiftly and coherently cover all bases in this triad of management frameworks.

A few elements that might be helpful for each include:

People: onboarding, training, and monitoring frameworks that help all employees adapt to the corporate culture of communication and stay on the same page throughout their tenures. Employee feedback and perspectives can be invaluable when building these frameworks out.

Process: policies that govern everything from email and conference-call etiquette to information sharing and knowledge management. There should be a governance web that guides communication in each department and across the business as a whole.

Technology: management and governance statutes that control the use of devices and applications as they relate to both internal and client-facing communications. Chief technology officers should be highly involved in the development of such rules.

At the end of the day, communications managers, directors and executives will need to customize the governance of people, processes and technologies in accordance with their unique corporate cultures. There is no cut-and-paste solution to the Babel-esque challenges faced in each business environment today.

The goal here should always be standardizing and unifying the communications culture of the business, building off of strengths and learning from weaknesses every step of the way. These policies should be viewed as agile yet steady compasses for directing all personnel.

Justification: Attaining Buy-In

Directors and executives alike will often run into issues when trying to gain buy-in from the C-Suite, floor-level employees and everyone in between. Once communications strategies have been properly standardized, buy-in will be the final challenge that needs to be hurdled, and it is arguably the most difficult.

This is where employee feedback and insights will be invaluable. For example, if three-quarters of personnel prefer to use a specific device that policies prohibit in the workplace, buy-in will be unattainable. Or if the C-Suite has not been involved in the manifestation of policies and procedures, chances are there will be some significant demands for adjustments and changes once the complex web of governance is already established.

So, communications directors and executives need to do what they do best: Communicate. Get feedback throughout the process of overhauling or establishing the standardized, unified, common language and communications culture of the business, and attaining buy-in will be a far more straightforward, speedy and seamless pursuit.

Do not let the threat of Babel-esque communication quandaries hinder your company’s performance. Adapt, standardize and modernize in every possible way to rescue your colleagues from the perils of modern corporate dialogue.

Via Forbes : 3 Simple Steps To Keep Your Employees Talking To You Instead Of The Press

We live in an era when sweeping workplace problems under the rug is no longer an option for corporations—and thankfully so. Still, there are always going to be conflicts in the workplace, well-meaning policies that lead to unintended consequences, and employees and managers who cross the line despite clearly outlined regulations. So how do you stay on top of what’s happening in your workplace if you’re a CEO, senior leader, mid-level manager, or HR team member? How do you address internal conflicts and ensure that you’re promoting an inclusive culture?

Whether you’re leading a team, a department, or an entire company, your role as a change agent has never been more important. And your ability to hold your organization to its stated values and policies or to establish new ones when the time calls for it has never been more necessary.

We’ve all seen the headlines—“BetterWorks CEO Hit With Sexual Harassment Suit,” “Susan Fowler Alleges Sexual Discrimination Against Uber,” “Amazon’s Work Culture Really Is Terrible.” Employees who experience issues in the workplace that go unresolved, even after they alert management, can blog or go to media directly as a last resort. Allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct continue to come out about companies like Binary Capital and 500 Startups, meanwhile Uber is looking for a few new board members and had to recently hire a new CEO.

Too many companies today still respond to the whistleblower phenomenon by fearing their employees, introducing NDAs, or worse—policies that aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. Corporations need to respond to their employees’ concerns and needs, not try to control them from speaking out about problems. If there are problems brewing inside your organization where employees are feeling excluded by the company culture or that their concerns are going unheeded, you want to be the first to know about it. Not the last when it appears in the media for the whole world to see.

As an advisor and educator who specializes in helping Fortune 1000 executives become “corporate change agents” within their organizations, especially in relation to gender equality and diversity initiatives, I often see the blind spots and land mines from my outside-in perspective and help them to build effective channels for capturing and responding to employee feedback so that they can tackle issues swiftly long before they get to the point of a national media frenzy.

Here are the top three things companies can do to address employee feedback head on and avoid a whistleblower moment:

1. Don’t talk the talk, walk the talk.

Some of the most beloved companies have been exposed when their internal practices don’t match their external PR. The disconnect between appearances and reality reads as hypocrisy and lack of concern for employees, and this does more to fuel their discontent and make them ripe for reporters covering your industry.

Susan Fowler, an engineer at Uber, and her unaddressed reports of sexual harassment to HR, which echoed the complaints and experience of other women, ultimately led to the the CEO’s departure and the firing of 20 executives. More than 100 Amazon employees detailed the relentless and punishing work culture to The New York Times. Former Googler Erica Baker went public with a salary spreadsheet to help co-workers negotiate for more equitable compensation.

On first glance, the proliferation of blogs and publishing sites like Medium that make it easy for anyone to shout from their own soapbox might seem like a liability for corporations. But trying to quash this trend by establishing draconian PR policies or managing away leaks through damage control after the fact is not the answer. Instead, companies need to view employee feedback as an opportunity for senior management to empower employees to become courageous intrapreneurs—people within the organization who can not only speak up about an issue, but who can also contribute to the solution that improves it.

2. The three Cs: clarity, consistency, and C-suite commitment.

Organizations need to define and publish their core values and commitment to inclusive workplaces. What are your policies when it comes to gender equality and diversity, both inside and outside of the company? What kind of impact do you want your work to make on the world? For your employees? This also means getting rid of the old model where diversity initiatives are centered in HR. Progressive policies must be driven by a deep commitment from C-Suite executives. Diversity is now an imperative for any business that wants to remain competitive in the marketplace for customers and for talent.

3. 360 Employee Engagement.

Organizations must publicize their commitment to diversity and their process for engaging and soliciting employee feedback internally. Develop channels for employees to report problems or suggest improvements to company policy. Give workers the tools to problem-solve and make the workplace better for everyone. Designate leaders in each department across the company who will hold new mandates and policies accountable. Strive to engage with employees at all levels, from senior executives and middle management, to entry-level and contract workers.

Gender equality and diversity is not just a PR problem, but a business imperative. Research shows that companies with a more diverse workforce outperform others that are not. According to an MIT study, shifting an office from all-male or all-female to one that is split equally by gender can increase revenue by 41 percent. Stocks with higher gender diversity experience less volatility and deliver better risk-adjusted stock returns according to Morgan Stanley. Being exposed to diversity makes people more creative and hard-working, and companies with a reputation for having a good work culture attract and keep top talent more easily.

The landscape has changed for corporations. Whistleblowing is not a trend that executives can wait out, and organizations don’t have the luxury of thinking they are immune to a PR crisis. Instead, view employee feedback as an opportunity to empower your workforce and improve company culture.

The new workplace reality is one where corporations must reflect the population they employ, serve, and market to. Your employees are the soldiers on the ground; they know the ins and outs of your organization like the back of their own hands. Think of all the potential innovations and improvements you’re missing out on when you don’t have an effective way to capture and implement their feedback. Is that something you want to pass up?

Via Newsday : Email still king for workplace communication, but IM’s booming

Technology is changing the way people communicate, both inside and outside of the office, but email is still the top communication tool.

The use of instant messaging in the workplace has skyrocketed, thanks mainly to millennials, but it has yet to unseat email, according to a recent report on the state of business communications by Provo, Utah-based InsideSales.com.

One of its key findings: 94 percent of respondents said they recommended people contact them by email.

But texting is growing in popularity in the workplace, particularly among baby boomers, with 81 percent more boomers using it daily than millennials.

Cellphones have surpassed landlines in every category at work, with 86 percent of respondents saying they were likely to respond to a cellphone call at work.

“Business communication tools have evolved quite a bit,” says Ken Krogue, president of InsideSales.com, a cloud-based sales acceleration and intelligence technology company. “Instant messaging has really taken off, and the big news is that the cellphone has become the medium of choice.”

Cellphones have grown in usage in and out of the workplace as many people have dropped their home landlines, he says. In fact, the percentage of workers who recommend contacting them on their landline at work decreased 14 percent from 2014 to 2017.

Meanwhile, 54 percent of respondents said they still use a landline phone every day at work, but only 6 percent said they do at home.

But cellphones still take a backseat to email. That’s not surprising considering it’s familiar to people and easy, says Krogue, “but it’s not very assertive, and it’s becoming caught up in the noise.”

This explains why instant messaging and texting have grown. The percentage of people who use IM daily at work went from 31 percent in 2014 to 41 percent in 2017.

Instant messaging allows for live conversation in real time with either an individual or group of people. IM apps such as Slack can be used on a computer, phone or tablet.

“It speeds up your communication so dramatically,” says Jed Morey, president of Morey Publishing, a digital marketing agency in Syosset that started using Slack this year.

It allows for one-on-one communication among staff as well as group chats, and archives discussions inside the app, he says, noting it’s much quicker than searching through emails.

Internally, it has cut down the firm’s email communication by at least 50 percent, resulting in increased efficiencies because staff members don’t have to stop what they’re doing as often, Morey says.

CMIT Solutions of South Nassau, a Merrick information technology and security services provider, uses Slack as well as text messaging for workplace communications, says president Armando D’Accordo.

Because of the high volume of emails it receives, the firm is using other “layers of communication” for anything related to service delivery or urgency, he says.

Typically, if staff members are in the office, they’ll use instant messaging to communicate with each other. If they’re in the field, it’s easier to use text messaging.

CMIT also gives clients options on communicating with them, suggesting they call, chat via a link or open their own self-service tickets via email, D’Accordo says.

While all this technology makes it easier to keep in touch, it also requires careful implementation, says Nancy Flynn, executive director of the Ohio-based ePolicy Institute and author of “The ePolicy Toolkit” (Wiley, $150).

“Text messaging is nothing more than mobile email, and instant messaging is turbocharged email,” she says.

The policies and procedures firms have established to govern email should also apply to text messaging and instant messaging, she says.

Flynn recommends companies have a separate policy for both email and instant messaging and incorporate a texting policy into their mobile-device policy.

Train employees on your policies and procedures, and on the risks associated with the technology, she says.

“When it comes to electronic business communication, it’s the content that will trigger a lawsuit, not the technology tools you’re using,” Flynn says.

via Sbn Online : Poor Workplace Communication Leads To Painful Results

By: Davis Young and Scott Juba

Examples of sloppy – or non-existent — communication in the workplace are everywhere. No company is immune. Playing the blame game isn’t a productive way to address and fix the problem.

Middle management has been called the “frozen tundra of communication.” If that describes your company’s workplace communication landscape, it’s time to bring about a thaw. If not, prepare to deal with unpleasant collateral issues.

“Frozen Tundra” damage

When the communication ball gets dropped, there are at least nine bad things that can happen.

  • Relationships in the workplace can be damaged leading to bad feelings between employees.
  • Relationships can also be damaged externally with customers, vendors, neighbors and others who really matter.
  • Lack of communication causes unnecessary and frustrating delays for implementation of decisions or policies.
  • When information is poorly presented, companies must engage in damage control that can be both time-consuming and expensive.
  • Product or service quality that should be very good becomes mediocre when communication lags and this leads to customer dissatisfaction.
  • Morale problems begin to surface because too much time is spent on fixing things that should not have happened.
  • Reputations become damaged — your reputation, your boss’s reputation, your company’s reputation.
  • At the end of the day, the most valuable asset any organization can have — trust — is broken.
  • And, if you’ve had a hand in creating any of those problems, you may well get fired.

Case in point

An example of poor workplace communication that happens every day is failure to set clear expectations for others. Whether it’s the scope of a customer order, a series of deadlines or the parameters of information other team members are counting on you to deliver, agreeing on expectations up-front is essential. If you don’t do that, you and your associates will have expectations that don’t match and that is a one-way ticket to trouble.

There is no more important communication issue than setting expectations and following up to make certain they are met.

  • Project parameters.
  • Budget.
  • Timetable.
  • Responsibilities.
  • Accountability.
  • Expected outcomes.

Ask yourself: Are expectations you set in the work you perform always clear? If not, it is imperative you take immediate steps to fix that because clear communication from management sets the example for the rest of the workforce. A lot may be riding on that.

Davis Young and Scott Juba own Fast Is Good℠ LLC, which offers communication training in 90 minutes or less.

Davis has provided communication training for some of the best known organizations in the country and, in recent years, has taught more than 200 college classes focused on communication.

Scott is an experienced communication trainer. He is a recognized thought leader and consultant on social media and the use of technology to communicate.

via BDC Magazine4 ways to boost workplace communication through office design

Communication is one of the most important issues in the workplace. Good communication is the key to a successful business because it helps everyone to feel heard and engaged at every level. As a result, everyone benefits from a positive, encouraging and successful environment.  Here are four ways that companies can boost communication through office design.

Design Seating with Collaboration in Mind

Open-plan offices help with communication and the flow of ideas amongst employees. This is particularly true when senior staff are part of the open floor plan since it helps all staff tune in to the office vibe and makes teams more cohesive. It also makes people seem more approachable and arrangements like cluster desks and bench seating where people face each other can help with collaboration.

However, some staff don’t appreciate the lack of privacy and the open plan layout can be seen as intrusive by more introverted employees, leading to a reduction in concentration. In this case, it’s a good idea to create some separate private spaces for quiet work or adopt a policy for allowing people to work from home when they need to work undisturbed. Online collaboration platforms like Slack, Trello and Basecamp are good at keeping teams connected and up to date with projects. 

Allocate a Dedicated Communication Area

A special area dedicated to teamwork doesn’t necessarily have to be within the confines of a meeting room. It could be an island or shared table in an open-plan office, independent of the normal work environment, yet centrally placed and defined as a ‘communication lounge’ for brainstorming, informal team meetings and project coordination. High padded seating, shelving units or moveable partitions can create an effective acoustic barrier if necessary. Synergy Vision, a medical Communications agency, installed breakout spaces in their new premises when they relocated. The padded and cushioned seats are part of the open plan seating area but high-backed and enclosed to create privacy.

Consider Every Space a Workspace

In modern offices, hallways and staircases can function as extensions of the workspace. Studies have shown that people are more innovative and open to ideas when in motion. This means effort should be put into the design of every single space, particularly hallways and landings where employees can think from a fresh perspective away from their desks. They can have chance meetings, allowing them the welcome opportunity for face-to-face contact with colleagues, which can create more of a bond as well as aiding inter-team communication. Hallways are being made wider and furnished with sofas, whiteboards and other places to encourage conversation.

EDC, a communications group, moved six creative businesses under one roof in London’s West End. A new structural opening and new staircase were constructed between the two floors to allow the companies to easily come together around the central meeting areas and meeting rooms. The interior designers gave the space a shabby chic vibe and created lots of inspiring breakout areas in the walkways and open spaces.

Embrace New Technology

Phones are becoming a thing of the past in the office as we now rely more heavily on digital technology. Work is becoming more collaborative and video-conferencing from a variety of locations around the world is the main way to communicate between international offices. Encourage this by setting up the best facilities you can for your staff and make it easy for them to communicate by providing the best Wi-Fi connection, webcams and other amenities. Companies are now adding nooks and crannies with seats and a place to plug in and charge your smartphone where filing cabinets would have existed before.

Helix Property fitted a bespoke new seating area that included wireless charging points. Verisk Analytics installed a comprehensive audio visual system including interactive screens with full laptop connectivity. This was complemented by meeting rooms fitted with a room booking system to allow for a simple and efficient procedure to managing meetings between teams. Their Training Room provided an interactive whiteboard and repeater screens to cater for the larger open planned teaching area.

As you can see, wireless connectivity enables staff to work anywhere, giving them an excellent way to change their scenery and have impromptu meetings using a laptop. This is aided by an increasing emphasis on digital storage and online collaboration, as well as interior design that complements these trends and boosts workplace communication.