Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The change journey

Most business change impacts people and it's often up to the people to take the business forward.There’s a destination and a route when it comes to business change and that’s why we call it a change ‘journey’. We may be unclear on the details and diversions along the way, but we know that to reap the benefits, we must bring people along.  

Getting more benefits from an investment in change will come from people taking the organisation into its future state. Change isn’t easy for anybody. Those managing and delivering the programme must make sure people are involved and engaged throughout and have the right skills to be able to adopt the new behaviours.

Understand resistance

It’s easy to understand why people are resistant and varying levels of resistance are an inevitable part of the change journey. Anticipating resistance and planning around it is crucial and will connect people with the programme even if they do not show full buy-in at any given point. If people are not sure of the benefits of the change or don’t understand it properly there’s bound to be strong resistance. Old ways of working are part of an informal network and culture that can be very hard to replace. Knowing and understanding existing working practices and informal networks means you can support people throughout the programme through communication and learning support.

There are many of ways of gathering this insight quickly and efficiently, such as one to one interviews, attending team meetings, hosting focus groups, as well as just keeping your eyes to the ground. It is important to discover who the key people are early and get to know them. They may not necessarily be integral to your project, but they’ll be the experienced and well connected people with a wide network that you’ll need to tap into.

Plan around your people

The best change projects begin with understanding the impact for those involved. How do they see their role now? What do they look forward to at work each day? And how have they dealt with change in the past? To bring them on the journey you have to understand their values – not what’s on the company intranet but the tacit rules that govern each team. When you learn about informal structures of power and influence, it is easier to identify the most relevant communications agendas. The investment in face to face interviews for example will pay off in terms of confident planning.

A gap analysis will provide knowledge of people’s needs throughout change –  the skills and engagement they need when moving from the world of one company to another – this produces a targeted programme of change management, learning and communications, appropriate to the needs of the audience.

Build and share your vision

People need to know the reasons for change before they’ll buy in to it. Capture this in a way that speaks to everyone. In doing so, the vision of the future state will become clearer – from sponsors to frontline workers, people can see the change as their story’s next chapter, even though not all of them will be delighted by it.

Make an impact

If change is a journey, the engagement campaign is the business’s vehicle. We want people to see it, recognise what it stands for and, ideally, jump on board. Such campaign also conveys your vision. Creativity is essential and depending on your stakeholder’s working practices, you can use a wide array of channels to get your message across. You may create a brand new identity which not only brings this to life but gives them a reminder of the various parts of their new operating model, the services they provide and where individual teams fit in. This should be applied to all the communications collateral to reinforce their new way of working and the need to focus on the needs of their customer.

Exploring and learning

A vital part of the change journey is allowing people the space to explore and learn via practice and hands on experience. Give them the opportunity to voice their opinions on new ways of working and experiment themselves. The journey will probably need to be broken up in chunks that are achievable, each one with different things to do. You won’t be able to do everything at once. And you’ll need to give the right amount of encouragement, motivation and reward for completing each stage of the journey.

Change is constant in businesses now. Don’t let your project be one of those that doesn’t realise the potential business benefits because people somehow got left behind on the journey.

Adapted from Afiniti's Business Change Newsletter, December 2014. Afiniti is a UK based award winning business change consultancy that delivers change with a people focus, producing sustainable changes in behaviour, mind-sets and working practices.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Do's during CEO change: Stay authentic!

Here are some of the essential things a CEO should consider during the critical starting period of his new assignment.

First of all, the CEO must stay authentic. That makes him predictable and allows managers and employees to assess their new executive as soon as possible. Getting to know each other is the basis for trust and acceptance. In his first messages, he should show how he is and how he thinks: What are his personal expectations? What are his values? What is important to him? How will he pursue the company's success? Hierarchical or rather team
oriented? Many nuances are possible. A mandatory, authentic appearance helps to rapidly contain rumors and uncertainties about the future course of the company. However, the new CEO is not only measured by his messages but also by his style. Already his very first appearance in front of managers and employees is therefore crucial for the further interaction within the company.

Raising credibility

Secondly, he should particularly show openness, honesty and transparency. A new CEO is under considerable pressure by all sorts of stakeholders and needs to meet a wide variety of interests and expectations. On the one hand, he should deliver “quick wins”, which should, however, not be achieved at the expense of a long-term solid business. On the other hand, major decisions will have a sustainable effect only in the long run. This all is crucial for the timing of changes and the appropriate communication measures. Details on proposed changes should not be communicated overhasty. The new CEO should first try to describe the company's situation as he sees it and what challenges it is facing. In doing so, he raises his credibility, and employees get the necessary idea and orientation. Core values such as respect, transparency, fairness and professionalism contribute to a credible and effective performance. Open communication is a prerequisite for coping successfully with upcoming, maybe far-reaching changes.

Thirdly: Listening, showing nearness and learning about the corporate culture. Good relations with key stakeholders requires a willingness to consider their expectations and concerns and take them seriously. To be visible and touchable in the company is particularly important and foster trust right in the beginning. Above all, it is important that the new CEO understands the company's DNA. What keeps the company together? What is so special about its brand? What strategic changes are possible without destroying the foundations and the culture of the company? Getting to know the brand should be the subject of communication during the starting period of the new management. Because the CEO not only represents the brand: he is very much affecting him through his personal style.

Timing is crucial

Fourthly and finally, content and timing of messages must be carefully planned during a CEO change both in external and internal communication: When are restructuring measures announced? When do you initiate a culture change? Especially during the start of a new CEO, sensitive messages in connection with major changes need to be carefully considered. Internal and external announcements must be coordinated: employees should not learn from the media about future intentions of their company. It is never easy for a new management to communicate sensitive topics at the right time. But too early or too late is still better than keeping it as a secret.

(To be continued with part 3: Don'ts during CEO change)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Are Social Media driving employee engagement?

On 23 October 2014, the ETH startup Beekeeper organized another one of its BeeSocial events with the title "The Art of Communication and Driving Engagement" at the SomexCloud location in Zurich. While Philipp Maderthaner, founder of the Campaigning Bureau in Vienna/Austria was presenting about opportunities for successful campaigning in Social Media, I was invited to give a speech on "Are Social Media driving employee engagement?". A handout of my presentation - available only in German - can be obtained from Communtia's download website.

The two presentations were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Matthias Ackeret, owner and publisher of the "Persönlich" magazine, including the two speakers as well as Cris Grossmann, CEO of Beekeeper, Dr. Andreas Jaeggi, Managing Director of Perikom, Society for Personnel Management and Internal Communication, and Sunnie J. Groeneveld, founder and CEO of Inspire 925

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Communication during CEO change: How to avoid cultural risks

Personnel changes at the very top of a company may imply a far-reaching turning-point for all. Business strategies, style of cooperation last but not least corporate culture can change dramatically with the arrival of a new CEO. Changes in top management are therefore often associated with fears and insecurities, especially among managers and employees, and even more when they acome as a result of pressure from external stakeholders such as investors or shareholders.

During such sensitive period, proper communication, which meets the expectations of internal and external stakeholders, is a key success factor. If acceptance and trust is quickly built up the CEO gets the necessary room for maneuver and can successfully carry out his duties. Insufficient communication during the change, however, can negatively affect the incoming CEO's authority right from the beginning and, in the worst case, destroy corporate culture and brand substantially. The consequence can be losing employees, internal stagnation, demotivation and less engagement.

CEO change communication activities should therefore start as early as possible at best before the new CEO's arrival. There is no second chance for an execellent first impression and first signals. And there is no "grace period" in which you could communicatively "escape". In addition to the right messages, the right timing is also important. Empty phrases on the first day are just as unhelpful as the loud announcement of far-reaching restructuring measures or cultural changes. A systematic approach would be far better: Analyze the current situation and expectations of the various stakeholders, shape the messages accordingly and set an appropriate timing. It is not only the CEO who is challenged but also the top managers within his reach which can have a significant influence on the communication during the CEO change. They have their own responsibility in building trust and setting the course for a successful execution of the new CEO's mandate.

Underestimated risks

There are some underestimated risks: Frequent CEO changes together with an inadequate communication may compromise the company's stability and brand consistency. During their professional career a lot of employees experience more CEO changes than own job moves. Company's with three or more CEO changes within five years are not that rare. This means unrest, readjustments and significant changes to everday's work. Moreover, the arrival of a new CEO often results in other departures on the C-level creating further uncertainties and unhappiness. Even without significant changes, managers and employees will adjust at this stage their positions against the new head, which may lead to significant shifts in the coordination system of the company. The performance of indivdiual employees might be valued differently, and the interaction and collaboration within the company could significantly change.

In any case, the return to workaday life will take its time: "How is my job changing with the new top management's priorities and objectives? Will everything change, and what is staying? Will I be affected by restructuring plans? Will my skills and services be estimated also in the future?" A rapid orientation is required. A credible and authentic communication will calm down the situation and everybody will eagerly await the first signals of the new CEO's future course.

(To be continued with Part 2: Do's and Don'ts during CEO change)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Social media increase importance of being prepared for a crisis

A company's communication should ideally result in a coherent image. Well formulated messages, clear communication and a smooth process characterize, among other things, good relations with the stakeholders. Sometimes, however, incidents may occur providing huge negative reaction among stakeholders or in public. For a long time, such outcry happened only via traditional media like print, radio and television with a limited geographical dissemination and manageable timeframe. But today, the outrage is multiplied almost in real time via various social media channels. The expression of indignation, the so called "shitstorm", has taken on new dimensions and excesses since the emergence of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. A challenge of which many companies are still not aware. Not every negative comment may trigger a shitstorm. Being prepared, however, is in any case an imperative.

Baiting, malice and hashtags

Missteps on the PR floor may become within a few minutes a trending topic in the social media. Expressions of opinion are boosted with the help of hashtags, V-logs or postings via Facebook, Twitter, etc. The reaction is not always free of some impetuous derailment. The real reason sometimes gets forgotten, the ball is played back and forth, and one rude comment drives another just because it has become trendy.

Prevention is of utmost importance

Due to the social media networks it has become increasingly difficult for companies to hide mishaps in their business. Once the information has reached the Internet, messages will rapidly disseminated, and the influence of stakeholders is dramatically increase. Internet communities have large share in the success or failure of a communication strategy. The only alternative after a public incident is to communicate in an open, clear and honest way. This means to talk openly about mistakes and tackle them without hesitation. Especially in times when crisis communication is more important than ever, it is essential to face the relevant stakeholders the right time in the right place. However, it should be considered that quiet periods in the information flow always leave room for speculation, which can quickly lead to prejudices in the stakeholders' perception. 

Establishing standard procedures

In order to avoid an uncontrolled breakout of an incident and its outrage, a permanent crisis management team, including the communication function, and standard procedures to handle crises situations need to be established. The team is run through different scenarios from time to time. Although every crisis situation is different, being adequately prepared helps taking the right steps forward. In case of a crisis, all media, print and digital, have to be monitored consistently. Adequate de-escalation models need to be discussed and the appropriate decisions taken. A deliberate reaction may help a company to escape a crisis situation even strengthened.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

All You Need To Know About Internal Communication

By Liam FitzPatrick and Klavs Valskov

When we sat down to write our book on internal and change communications we quickly realised that you need to state some things that we thought were obvious.  Looking at what was written on the subject, what was being said on-line and at conferences convinced us that there are a lot of people out there missing the point.

We realised that people tend to get obsessed about the latest cool channel or talk in riddles about cod business psychology.  People like to pretend that there is some mystique about talking and influencing people at work.

But there’s not. Employee communication is more of a science than an art.

More: All You Need To Know About Internal Communication.

Source: The Holmes Report. This article is based on an extract from Liam FitzPatrick and Klavs Valskov’s latest book "Internal Communication: a manual for practitioners" published by Kogan Page.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Communicate change before people cut ties with their job

Readiness to change is one of the preconditions for a successful change management that should transform rapidly changing conditions into new opportunities. It is absolutely essential that all changes in direction, strategy and orientation are communicated to all employees timely, open and honest.

However, the reason that change projects cannot be implemented as planned or even fail is often to be found already at the top level of a company: lack of adequate top-down information, less involvement of middle and lower management and no will to establish a dialogue with employees involved. But experience tells us that employees are sensitive to feel early when something is in the air. Rumours and uncertainty are growing and the willingness to actively participate in upcoming changes declines. More and more people will mentally cut their ties with the job already before they learn more about the company's intentions.

A leading role for Human Resources and Corporate Communications

In order to prevent such loss of emotional ties to the company's operations, Human Resources and Corporate Communications - together with the top management - need to pick up a leading role in the change management process and to run an open and timely information early enough, namely starting before the realignment becomes reality. A targeted integration of all people involved is a must for a successful change management. However, good communication is not done only with a written announcement, a glossy presentation or a nice brochure. It is not print that communicates the change but the managers. They all need to be provided with the necessary training, tools and materials in order to start a fruitful face-to-face dialogue with their staff and act as change agents. In doing so, change is discussed, understood, and the information is not diluted through hierarchical levels and differently interpreted. 

Plain text instead of empty words 

Cost reductions, restructuring projects and job redundancies include unpleasant messages by nature. Nevertheless, the reasons for change and its impact have to be explained in plain language. Even if messages may seem harsh and painful - they need to be clearly communicated and not trivialized by blurry statements. A successful change management lets the employees actively participate in the change. The more knowledge and know-how they can contribute to the process the greater the readiness to change will be. Motivation and engagement will increase which in turn fosters confidence and stability. But do not forget: "It is always easier to talk about change than to make it." (Alvin Toffler, US futurist).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Effective Communications and HR: Making the Connection

By Nancy Painter

HR is expected to do a lot – establish or change culture, manage change big and small, develop leaders, engage employees – all major contributors to an organization’s bottom line.

What was once considered a tool in HR’s strategic leadership is now almost universally recognized as a strategic necessity: effective communications.
At a time of high expectations and unprecedented changes in the workplace and workforce, communication is key to the success of all HR functions.

Read more: Effective Communications and HR: Making the Connection.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

WhatsApp wichtiges Kommunikationsmittel

Internetcommunitys und -plattformen sind auch in Deutschland ein fester Bestandteil im Leben von Jugendlichen geworden. Dabei ist Facebook das bei den jungen Menschen am meisten favorisierte Netzwerk und YouTube das meistgenutzte Online-Videoportal, wie die von einem unabhängigen Meinungsforschungsinstitut durchgeführte Umfrage unter mehr als 1.000 Besuchern auf der You Berlin 2014 zeigt.

Knapp drei Viertel der Befragten nutzen demnach das Internet, um auf YouTube kostenlos Videoclips anzusehen, zu bewerten oder selbst Videos hochzuladen. Mit 72,4 Prozent der Befragten, die das Online-Videoportal als Hauptnutzungsgrund für das Internet angaben, sank die Zahl leicht gegenüber dem Vorjahr (2013: 74,2 Prozent). Während das soziale Netzwerk Facebook seinen Siegerplatz als meistbesuchte Social Community erneut verteidigen konnte, weist die Zahl der Nutzer mit 77 Prozent auf 62,8 Prozent in 2014 dennoch einen starken Einbruchgegenüber dem Vorjahr auf. Der Smartphone-Messenger-Dienst WhatsApp hat Facebook eindeutig in seinem Stellenwert als Kontaktkanal übertrumpft. 69,1 Prozent der Befragten gaben an, per WhatsApp mit ihren Freunden zu kommunizieren. Das sind rund doppelt so viele Nutzer wie 2013 (35,8 Prozent).

Die YOU führt jährlich eine Besucherbefragung durch, um den Jugendlichen ein massgeschneidertes Programm zu bieten. Mehr Infos zur YOU unter www.you.de, www.facebook.com/you.messe, blog.you.de und http://twitter.com/youberlin.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Communicating effectively through a merger or acquisition

By Marc Wright

Mergers and acquisitions are two of the most important drivers in increasing the need for internal communication in both buying and target companies. In this article you can find out the 7 key steps you can take to optimise internal communication when your company is acquiring another, or is being acquired or merged.

Mergers put a huge strain on communication managers as they find themselves truly between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, senior management go into purdah as they jostle behind the scenes for the upper hand in negotiations while, on the other, staff panic about losing their jobs and related position, lifestyle and pension.

Most communication professionals go through a merger or acquisition only once in a decade so you can afford to pull on a wide variety of external help and skills to get through a process that will stretch and develop you more than any other professional experience. There is usually a management consultancy on board, who have come in to help with the rationalisation and restructuring of the merged business. They always put a high emphasis on the importance of communication. Studies by Booz-Allen & Hamilton indicate that over 70% of merger objectives go unmet, and just 23% earn their cost of capital. However, change consultants are often involved flat out on their task of bolting two disparate companies together so they will have little time and expertise to help out the beleaguered communication manager stuck in the middle.

So what should you do when those first indications of a merger start blowing in the wind? Here I suggest a 7 point strategy: More...

Taken from The Gower Handbook of Internal Communications


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Towers Watson Report: Capitalizing on Effective Communication

Companies that communicate with courage, innovation and discipline, especially during times of economic challenge and change, are more effective at engaging employees and achieving desired business results. Towers Watsons' research has consistently found the firms that communicate effectively with employees are also the best financial performers.

When it comes to communication, successful companies pay close attention to articulating their employee value proposition. In times of change, they use social media and other, time-tested tools to communicate with an increasingly diverse and dispersed audience. These companies treat their managers as a special audience — offering additional communication and training to help them manage. They focus on the customer and use communication programs to drive productivity, quality and safety.

The 2009/2010 Communication ROI Study Report summarizes the findings of a multiregional study. It identifies what the companies with highly effective communication practices are doing to inform and engage their employees in challenging economic times, and shows how these practices vary around the world.

Key findings
  • Effective employee communication is a leading indicator of financial performance and a driver of employee engagement. Companies that are highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with firms that are the least effective communicators.
  • Despite all of the organizational and benefit changes employers have been making in response to challenging economic conditions, only 14% of the survey participants are explaining the terms of the new employee value proposition (EVP) to their employees.
  • The best invest in helping leaders and managers communicate with employees. While only three out of 10 organizations are training managers to deal openly with resistance to change, highly effective communicators are more than three times as likely to do this as the least effective communicators.
  • Despite the increased use of social media, companies are still struggling to measure the return on their investment in these tools. Highly effective communicators are more likely than the least effective communicators to report their social media tools are cost-effective (37% vs. 14%).
  • Measurement is critical. Companies that are less-effective communicators are three times as likely as highly effective communicators to report having no formal measurements of communication effectiveness.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Half of the change projects fail due to poor communication

Almost half of all change management projects fail. One of the reasons: Top managers overvalue their communication skills during change. 

According to the "Change Fitness Study 2012" 71 percent of the surveyed business leaders think that they have openly and clearly communicated the challenges and risks of a change project. But only 32 percent of the employees share this opinion. Self-image and external view diverge widely. While 56 percent of the top managers are convinced that they inspire employees for future change management projects, only 26 percent of employees agree to this perception. Even when it comes to the question of whether employees are fully informed, the results are different. 58 percent believe that their employees are optimally integrated in all processes. However, this view is only shared by 28 percent of employees. Around 300 people of the upper and middle management as well as employees of enterprises of various size and industries were interviewed as part of the "Change Fitness Study 2012".

Change communications needs transparency

In change management, project communication acts as a catalyst. Communication in change processes should create transparency, resolve resistance, drive processes and ensure integration. In order to succeed, communication should be: focused on the different target groups, personal or even discussed face-to-face, timely and adequate, done by executives supported by managers at all levels.

Face-to-face communication particularly important

Change management communication is performed in phases on the basis of a sophisticated and detailed communication plan. It ideally explains the rationale for the necessary change, the reasons for particular urgency, but also visions, goals and strategies. The challenges and risks should be explicitly addressed. Also face-to-face communication is particularly important to make sure that the messages are understood at all levels. That is where the dialogue with employees starts to work. Only those who understand the reason for a change, are ready for it. Only those who change their mind and attitude, may also change behavior and actions. And only those who have time and space for trial and error, may also able to share the change. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Change communication needs structure - and empathy

How is information flowing top down, emotions bottom up? This might be less a question in large service companies that have a well-rehearsed internal communication. Because there are established communication tools such as employee newsletters, intranet, discussion forums and feedback boxes. But what for smaller companies which, for example, cannot reach all employees at the same time? Because they are working in shifts or because they have a mixed structure of employees in offices and workers at production lines?

Even with an established internal communication there are many open questions: Which method when? With what intensity and for what purpose? My recommendation is to establish a separate communication structure for the period of change: An individual or a team, in which all communication agendas are bundled. This "Change communicator" may come from any area of a business, important is his integrity and his empathy: Change occurs when we still value the good old things, are clear and consistent in communicating the new, and make change noticeable. By the way: Change can be planned.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Intensive employee communication driving strategy aligment

"You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get you anywhere."
Lee Iacocca

An intensive dialogue about the company's intention, strategy and objectives with all employees is a key driver for strategy alignment and for getting every one's "buy-in". However, it is not only the corporate communications department which is in charge of sending strategic messages throughout the organisation via its various channels. Also top management needs to disseminate strategic messages down the line, with managers from all levels informing their employees and discussing their contribution to the company's performance. In doing so, the employees’ knowledge and understanding of the strategy increases and their actions will be more in line with the strategy.

Hearing is not understanding

This sounds easy. But in many organisations there seems to be a problem with communicating strategic messages in a way that it is properly understood by all employees. The fact that employees are regularly informed and hear the message does not necessarily mean that they "got it". Strategic messages might not be properly received because rationale and context are missed. A lot of articles and essays have been written on this subject as well as on what should be done from a corporate communication point of view.

Dialogue-oriented communication

Communicating about the company's strategy is about employees understanding what the strategic objectives of the organisation are, and where there contribution can be to help the organisation in achieving these objectives. This requires an intensive debate bottom and bottom-up. It is all managers' responsibility to ensure in a meaningful and dialogue-oriented way that all employees have a common understanding about what the strategy is and why the company is following it. And it is their duty to align the operational activities with the strategic objectives. Such behavior should finally result in a strong strategic alignment where all employees are pulling together - motivated and engaged.

Therefore you should not only look at internal communications as the ultimate and only tool to create alignment. The necessary impact on your staff can only be reached if you enable the managers to lead the strategy discussion by providing them the adequate material such as presentations, articles, Q&A catalogues. That is what gives a company its road map towards alignment and top performance.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Monitor 2014: Digital age enriching the job of communicators

The European Communication Monitor is the largest transnational survey on strategic communication worldwide. 2,777 communication professionals from 42 countries participated in 2014. The ECM 2014 edition covers issues like mobile communication, drivers of job satisfaction for communicators, career development, networking and mentoring, influence of new technologies on daily job routines, gender issues, and characteristics of excellent communication departments - based on a new approach to identify outperforming functions.

Based on responses, the monitor reveals that the digital age enriches the jobs of professional communicators, yet many are still struggling to find new working routines. Communicating with stakeholders at any time is the most important aspect of mobile communication for six out of ten communicators in Europe. Although a third of organisations have implemented apps for smartphones and tablets, more than 40 per cent are not planning to use such tools for strategic communication. In contrast, 61 per cent already employ mobile corporate or organisational websites. While 84 per cent state that new ways of communication are enriching their jobs, 73 per cent also say that their daily work pressure is steadily increasing and only 57 per cent know how to handle the constant information flow.

The results have been released by the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) and the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD), kindly supported by Communication Director magazine and sponsor Ketchum.

They are available online auf der Website des European Communication Monitor.
A flyer with 10 Starting Points (PDF) highlights key results and invites to join the discussion.
The highlights are also presented in a YouTube video.

The ECM 2014 has been conducted by a research group of professors from renowned universities in 11 countries, led by Professor Dr. Ansgar Zerfass. Lucky winners of the special draw of five Lomography Cameras are Heather Turnbach (Switzerland), Mladen Bubonjić (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Charlie Miller (UK), Lillian Phillips (Greece), and Anine Stiansen (Norway). 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Die elf wichtigsten Faktoren für ein Top-Gehalt in der PR

Hamburg (ots) - Wer Erfolge vorweisen kann, Führungskompetenz zeigt und viele Ideen produziert, hat die besten Chancen, zu den Topverdienern in der PR gezählt zu werden. Persönliche Erscheinung, Loyalität zum Arbeitgeber und der Status als First Mover sind dagegen deutlich weniger wichtig. Das haben die dpa-Tochter news aktuell und Faktenkontor herausgefunden. 536 Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter aus Pressestellen deutscher Unternehmen haben an der jüngsten Umfrage teilgenommen.

Ebenfalls von großer Bedeutung für ein überdurchschnittliches Gehalt sind individuelles Verhandlungsgeschick, berufliches Netzwerken und Durchsetzungsvermögen. Loyalität zum Arbeitgeber (acht Prozent) zahlt sich nach Meinung der Kommunikationsprofis allerdings deutlich weniger aus als ein Arbeitgeberwechsel (20 Prozent). Auch eine ausgeprägte Konzeptionskompetenz, die für die Planung von erfolgreichen Kampagnen und Projekten wichtig ist, ist nach Auffassung der Befragten eher von untergeordneter Bedeutung für einen hohen Gehaltsscheck.

Die elf wichtigsten Faktoren für ein Top-Gehalt in der PR:

1. Erfolge vorweisen (40 Prozent)

2. Führungskompetenz (23 Prozent)
3. Ideenreichtum (23 Prozent)
4. Verhandlungsgeschick (21 Prozent)
5. Netzwerken (20 Prozent)
6. Arbeitgeberwechsel (20 Prozent)
7. Durchsetzungsvermögen (20 Prozent)
8. Konzeptionskompetenz (18 Prozent)
9. Persönliche Erscheinung (14 Prozent)
10. Loyalität zum Arbeitgeber (acht Prozent)
11. First Mover sein (sieben Prozent)

Frage: "Was ist der beste Weg zu einem Top-Gehalt? Nennen Sie die drei besten Wege für mehr Gehalt."
Datenbasis: 536 Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter aus Pressestellen Art der Befragung: Online-Befragung
Befragungszeitraum: März/April 2014


news aktuell GmbH
Leiter Unternehmenskommunikation
Jens Petersen
Telefon: 040/4113 - 32843

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

AP To Begin Automating Business News Stories

By International Business Times, 2 July 2014

The Associated Press announced plans on Monday to automate quarterly earnings stories starting in July, a move the nonprofit news agency said will allow its reporters to refocus their efforts on the content quality.

The financial articles will be powered by Durham, North Carolina-based Automated Insights’ “Wordsmith” technology, which can translate big data into narratives. The AP, which participated in the company’s latest round of investment financing with other strategic partners, said it will pair the artificial intelligence tool with data from Zacks Investment Research to increase its 300 manually written business news reports to more than 4,000 with the automated system. The move will allow AP reporters to “spend more time on things like beat reporting and source development while increasing, by a factor of more than 10, the volume of earnings reports for customers.”

No AP employees will be laid off as a result of the change, Managing Editor Lou Ferrara, who oversees business news, said in a blog post. Instead, AP reports will focus on “what the numbers mean … identifying trends and finding exclusive stories we can publish at the time of the earnings reports.”

This isn’t the first time the AP has made this move. Many of the sports stories have been produced automatically for several years, Ferrara explained. For example, an automated NFL ranking was introduced last year, which “included automated text descriptions of player performances each week, which were produced by Automated Insights.”

Human eyes will continue to review the reports before they are published on the AP news wire, but Ferrara said once any bugs and concerns are out of the way, the news agency will “keep moving ahead.”

Friday, May 9, 2014

10 ways to improve employee communications

Here is an interesting article by Peter LaMotte, senior vice president at LEVICK, and chair of the Digital Communications Practice, published on ragan.com. He is also a contributing author to LEVICK Daily.

These suggestions are simple, yet often overlooked. For example, be clear and concise, make sure meetings aren't a waste of time, and modify your message for your audience.

Quality communication between your firm and your clients is simply good business - not to mention communication between your clients and the media - but don't overlook the value of good communication within your firm.

Communicating well with employees offers numerous benefits:
  • Enhanced morale;
  • Greater creativity and productivity;
  • Opportunities to instill long-term loyalty;
  • Fewer errors due to confusion or misunderstandings.

Texting and email are the most convenient (and popular) means of workplace communication, but each comes with significant drawbacks. Face-to-face conversations may require more time and attention, but the payoff is almost always worth it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Crashkurs für CSR im Video

Crashkurs: In nur fünf Minuten bringt dieses animierte Video des Instituts für Wirtschaftsethik der Universität St. Gallen grundlegende Aspekte der CSR auf den Punkt - inklusive Global Compact und ISO 26000. Was ist CSR? Wie lässt sich CSR realisieren. Fundiert, unterhaltsam, kompakt. Sehenswert!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Four Secrets to Employee Engagement

How did you feel about coming to work this morning?

I’m sure many factors influenced whether you felt like digging right in, but one of the most significant was almost surely your boss.

It seems obvious: Direct supervisors who set their teams up for success, observe them in action, ask for feedback, identify the root causes of employee concerns, and then follow through with meaningful improvements have happier, more engaged employees.
Why, then, do senior executives who tout the value of employee engagement so often delegate it to the HR department? HR serves an important function, but not even the best HR staff is in a position to take the actions required to affect the attitudes of individual employees or teams.

And employee engagement remains a challenge for companies worldwide. Recently, Bain & Company, in conjunction with Netsurvey, analyzed responses from 200,000 employees across 40 companies in 60 countries and found several troubling trends:
  • Engagement scores decline with employee tenure, meaning that employees with the deepest knowledge of the company typically are the least engaged.
  • Engagement scores decline as you go down the org chart, so highly engaged senior executives are likely to underestimate the discontent on the front lines.
  • Engagement levels are lowest among sales and service employees, who have the most interactions with customers.
Yet some companies manage to buck these trends. IT-hosting company Rackspace, for instance, has a mantra of “fanatical” customer support. Energized, motivated “Rackers” put in the discretionary effort that creates a superior experience for customers. In turn, customers reward Rackspace with intense loyalty, contributing to the company’s 25% compound annual revenue growth and 48% profit growth since 2008.

Rackspace and other leading companies invest heavily in creating a culture of employee engagement. But what are their secrets?

Line supervisors, not HR, lead the charge. It’s difficult for employees to be truly engaged if they don’t like or trust their bosses. Netsurvey’s data shows that 87% of employee “promoters” of their companies also give their direct supervisors high ratings.
That’s why it’s critical for supervisors to treat team engagement as a high priority — and why their bosses, the senior executives, can’t merely prescribe rote solutions. Instead, senior leaders give supervisors the responsibility and authority to earn the enthusiasm, energy, and creativity that signal deep employee engagement.
Supervisors learn how to hold candid dialogues with teams. Not every supervisor is a natural at engaging employees, so leading companies provide training and coaching on how to encourage constructive discussions with team members. Trainers prepare them to handle sensitive topics like requests for better pay or worries about outsourcing. The training also stresses the importance of taking the right actions quickly and then telling employees how their input contributed to the improvements.

They also do regular “pulse checks.” Short, frequent, and anonymous online surveys (as opposed to a long annual survey) give supervisors a better understanding of team dynamics and a sense of how the team believes customers’ experiences can be improved. What matters most, however, is not the metrics but the resulting dialogue. At AT&T, executives don’t distribute survey scores to line supervisors or their bosses; instead, they show only trends and verbatim feedback. This signals that discussing and addressing the root causes of issues — and seeing steady progress — matter more than any absolute score.

Teams rally ‘round the customer. Call center representatives, sales specialists, field technicians, and others on the front line know intimately which aspects of the business annoy or delight customers. The companies that regularly earn high employee engagement tap that knowledge by asking employees how the company can earn more of their customers’ business and build the ranks of customer promoters. And they don’t just ask; they also listen hard to the answers, take action, and let their employees know about it.
For example, AT&T has built a digital infrastructure enabling all employee suggestions to be logged online. A small, dedicated team regularly reads and triages the suggestions, sending each promising one to a designated leader or expert who is obligated to consider it and respond. Employees can see the progress of each suggestion and log comments. Other companies have developed systems that enable employees to “vote up” or “vote down” the ideas suggested by others, with the best ones getting the attention of the leadership team.
Most companies today spend tremendous amounts of time and effort measuring and addressing issues related to employee engagement. But the results are generally underwhelming. To get a higher return on these resources, it’s time for executives to turn their current approach upside down. Open up the dialogue between employees and their supervisors. Put teams in charge, and let the center provide support. That’s what it takes to help your employees get so fired up that they approach their jobs with energy, enthusiasm, and creativity.

Jon Kaufman, a Bain & Company partner based in New York, contributed to the research and analysis mentioned in this post.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

HR als kommunikativer Gestalter von Veränderungen

Die grösste Herausforderung, der Unternehmen heute gegenüber stehen, ist die Notwendigkeit ständiger Anpassung an ein sich rasant veränderndes Umfeld. Aufkommende Tendenzen müssen frühzeitig erkannt und laufend neue Wege in der Geschäftsabwicklung gefunden werden. Mit anderen Worten: Mitarbeitende müssen sich an einen fortwährende Wandel gewöhnen. Dabei kommt HR eine neue Rolle zu – auch in der Kommunikation.

Der HR Manager am Telefon des Beraters tönte besorgt: „Wir haben einen neuen CEO, der unsere Unternehmenskultur so rasch wie möglich ändern will. Die Mitarbeitenden sollen positiver denken und Probleme kreativer lösen. Wir brauchen jemanden, der ein paar Workshops durchführt und unseren Leuten sagt, was sie tun müssen.“ Zwar kann man organisatorische Strukturen und Prozesse rasch anpassen. Eine kulturelle Veränderung, welche das Verhalten der Mitarbeitenden grundlegend ändert, lässt sich jedoch nicht über Nacht mit einem simplen Workshop bewerkstelligen.

Kulturwandel braucht Zeit, sorgfältige Planung, Verpflichtung und sehr viel Kommunikation. Während externe Berater die Umsetzung der Massnahmen unterstützen können, wird diese nur dann erfolgreich sein, wenn HR in enger Zusammenarbeit mit der Unternehmenskommunikation die Schlüsselrolle selbst spielt. Beide sind in der einzigartigen Position, mit Mitarbeitenden aller Stufen und Funktionen zu interagieren. Sie können den Wandel in vielerlei Hinsicht vorantreiben: die Aktivitäten auf die Unternehmensvision ausrichten, Vorgesetzte frühzeitig am Veränderungsprozess beteiligen, Veränderungen effektiv kommunizieren und als Rollenmodelle die neue Art des Arbeitens vorleben.

Damit ändern sich die Anforderungen an HR Manager enorm. Vorbei ist die Zeit traditioneller administrativer Tätigkeiten wie Stellenbesetzung, Gehaltsabrechnung, Pensionskasse, usw. Heute müssen sie über die Fähigkeit verfügen, die Unternehmensstrategie zu verstehen, eine darauf basierende funktionale Strategie zu entwickeln, effektive Lösungen für das Unternehmen anzubieten und diese zu kommunizieren. Als Agent für fortwährenden Wandel („Change Agent“) arbeiten sie auf eine steigende Veränderungsbereitschaft der Organisation hin.

Fokus auf fundamentalen Treibern

Dabei muss der Fokus auf den fundamentalen Treibern guter Leistungen liegen: Führen, Kommunizieren, Beteiligen, Trainieren/Lernen und Messen. Zwischen Leistung, Kommunikation und Veränderung besteht unzweifelhaft ein enger Zusammenhang. Diesen effizient auszunützen, erfordert tiefe Kenntnis der Unternehmenskultur und der Belegschaft. Deren sorgfältige Segmentierung hilft den Verantwortlichen von HR und Kommunikation abgestimmte Programme zu entwickeln und die Führungskräfte auf ihre Aufgaben im Veränderungsprojekt vorzubereiten.

Geschäftsführungen begehen immer wieder den Fehler, HR und Unternehmenskommunikation erst dann über Veränderungsprojekte zu orientieren, wenn diese schon beschlossen sind und umgesetzt werden sollen. Stattdessen sollten beide Funktionen zum frühestmöglichen Zeitpunkt in die Planung und Entscheidung mit einbezogen werden. Denn beiden kommt in Veränderungsprozessen eine Schlüsselrolle zu. Sie müssen sicherstellen, dass Notwendigkeit, Ziele und Nutzen einer Veränderung offen und klar kommuniziert werden und der gemeinsamen Vision des Unternehmens entsprechen. Der weitere Prozess muss eng begleitet und die Mitarbeitenden müssen so motiviert werden, dass sie sich mit der Veränderung identifizieren, sie unterstützen und mitgestalten.

Zahlreiche Schnittstellen zur Unternehmenskommunikation

Zwischen HR und der Unternehmenskommunikation bestehen zahlreiche Schnittstellen und Abhängigkeiten, so vor allem beim Erstellen von Kommunikationsplänen, bei Mitarbeiterumfragen und bei der Organisationen von Informationsveranstaltungen. Auch die Nutzung der Kommunikationskanäle führt zu Interdependenzen. Während die beiden Funktionen in der Vergangenheit oft nicht oder nur mangelhaft zusammengearbeitet haben, verfolgen heute beide gemeinsame Ziele: Steigerung der Motivation, des Engagements und der Zufriedenheit der Mitarbeitenden. HR schätzt die Unternehmenskommunikation als Unterstützung bei der Verbreitung ihrer Themen, im Gegenzug schätzt diese die Impulse, die sie von HR erhält, nehmen doch HR Themen eine immer bedeutendere Rolle ein.

Ohne Face-to-Face Kommunikation geht es nicht

Mitarbeitende von Unternehmen, die auch in schwierigen Zeiten mutig, innovativ, effizient und diszipliniert kommunizieren, engagieren sich erwiesenermassen stärker, um die geforderten Ziele zu erreichen. Aber die Kommunikation von Veränderungen ist besonders schwierig, weil sie zu Unsicherheit, Angst und Widerstand führen kann. Letzterer entsteht oft, wenn das Management eine Veränderung umsetzen will, ohne über Motive und Massnahmen im Einzelnen zu informieren und eine Beteiligung der Betroffenen anzubieten. Deshalb sind HR Manager im Kommunikationsprozess besonders gefordert. Dabei ist folgendes zu berücksichtigen:

  • Kommunizieren sie positiv was das Unternehmen erreichen will und wie sich die Veränderung auf die Organisation und die Belegschaft auswirkt. Verzichten sie, auf Versäumnisse in der Vergangenheit hinzuweisen.
  • Konzentrieren sie sich darauf, das Gute für die Mitarbeitenden herauszustreichen wie zum Beispiel verbesserte Arbeitsbedingungen, grössere Karrierechancen oder interessantere Aufgaben.
  • Setzen sie jene Kommunikationskanäle ein, mit denen sie die Mitarbeitenden am einfachsten direkt erreichen. Beachten sie, dass gerade in Zeiten grosser Unsicherheit der persönlichen Face-to-Face Kommunikation mit den Vorgesetzten grösste Bedeutung zukommt.
  • Geben sie den Mitarbeitenden die Gelegenheit, ihre Meinung zu äussern und Fragen zu stellen. Interviews, Fokusgruppen und informelle Gespräche erhöhen deren Zufriedenheit.
  • Messen sie – zum Beispiel mit Mitarbeiterbefragungen –, inwieweit Veränderungen akzeptiert und eine nachhaltige Wirkung erreicht wurden. Insbesondere interessiert dabei, wie gut, wie häufig und in welchem Zeitrahmen kommuniziert wurde.

Gemeinsame Plattform schaffen

Für das wirtschaftliche Gelingen von Veränderungsprojekten ist der Aufbau eines funktionierenden Kommunikationssystems, an dem sich Geschäftsführung, HR, Unternehmenskommunikation und Vorgesetzte beteiligen, unerlässlich. Ja selbst für die erfolgreiche Umsetzung einer HR Strategie generell ist eine enge Zusammenarbeit mit der Unternehmenskommunikation von grösster Wichtigkeit. Auf einer gemeinsamen Plattform wird Wissen transferiert, werden Schnittstellen bewirtschaftet, Verantwortlichkeiten geklärt und kreative Lösungen entwickelt, die trotz aller Veränderungen eine erfolgreiche Zukunft des Unternehmens sicherstellen.

Artikel im "Persorama - Zeitschrift für Personalmanagement", März 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CIPR State of the Profession report reveals PR at a crossroads

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has today published the results of the 2013/14 ‘State of the Profession’ survey reporting on the opinions of over 2,500 public relations professionals on issues and trends impacting current practice, standards, budgets and skills.

The 2013/14 ‘State of the Profession’ survey highlights that whilst nine out of ten respondents wish to be acknowledged as ‘professional’, results indicate a practice which seemingly struggles to embrace its desired professional ambitions. This is emphasised by the low level of academically or professionally qualified practitioners in PR and an overwhelming preference for ‘on the job’ experience as the most important indicator of professional standards.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sieben Thesen zum Change - Strategien eines Kommunikationschefs

Eine Zusammenfassung der Blog-Serie "Sieben Thesen zum Change - Strategien eines Kommunikationschefs" - ist auf www.communtia.ch verfügbar. Link zum Download.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sieben Thesen zum Change - Strategien eines Kommunikationschefs (Letzter Teil)

These 7: Veränderungsbereitschaft muss in der Unternehmenskultur verankert werden

Strategische Unternehmensentscheide rufen oft tiefgreifende Veränderungen hervor. Sie erzeugen bei den Mitarbeitenden nicht nur Erwartungen, sondern Unsicherheit, Ängste, ja manchmal sogar Widerstand. Vermeiden - oder zumindest dämpfen - lässt sich dies durch ein professionelles Veränderungsmanagement, das für die Unternehmen ein entscheidender Erfolgsfaktor ist und die Bereitschaft der Mitarbeitenden zum Wandel steigert. Diese ist umso höher je mehr sie an den Veränderungs- und Innovationsprozessen beteiligt werden und Verantwortung übertragen erhalten.

Unternehmen müssen dazu vorteilhafte Rahmenbedingungen schaffen: In der internen Weiterbildung bieten sie den Vorgesetzten Seminarien an, welche die sozialen und methodischen Kompetenzen im Management von Veränderungen verbessern und die Teilnehmenden befähigen, künftige Veränderungsprozesse nachhaltig zu gestalten und mit Widerständen souverän umzugehen. Solchermassen ausgebildet können sie als "Change Agents" eingesetzt werden, die den Change-Prozess begleiten und moderieren.

Zur erfolgreichen Bewältigung einer Veränderung  gehört aber auch, dass der Informationsfluss stets aufrecht erhalten und ein dynamischer Dialog fortgeführt wird. Einer engen Zusammenarbeit von Human Resources und Interner Kommunikation kommt in diesem Zusammenhang grosse Bedeutung zu. Die entsprechenden Programme müssen stets auf ihre Aktzeptanz gemessen und auf der Basis des Feedbacks optimiert werden. Auf diese Weise lässt sich nach und nach eine Unternehmenskultur etablieren, in der lebenslange Veränderungsbereitschaft zur Selbstverständlichkeit wird.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Develop strategic thinkers troughout your organization

In study after study, strategic thinkers are found to be among the most highly effective leaders. And while there is an abundance of courses, books, articles and opinions on the process of strategic planning, the focus is typically on an isolated process that might happen once or twice per year. In contrast, a true strategic leader thinks and acts strategically every day. Just read the HBR article by Robert Kabacoff.

Source: Harvard Business Review, February 7, 2014.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bain& Company: The age of curation: From abundance to discovery

Bain & Company has conducted a global survey measuring how people consume culture in the form of digital media - video, music, e-books and video games. By surveying more than 6,000 consumers in Europe, the US and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, we learned about changing preferences for how they watch, listen, read and play.

The survey results highlighted three key trends in 2013:

• The rise of individual and social consumption driven by smartphones and tablets;
• The end of content scarcity as digital distribution achieves ubiquity;
• A shift away from ownership enabled by “always-on” networks.

More: The age of curation: From abundance to discovery - Bain & Company - Publications