CommonSense Blog

Who Can See Clearly?

By Gary Grates | Dec 17, 2013

If you are anything like the millions of people working around the world, your ability to clearly see and grasp your organization’s mission and strategy and apply it to your own responsibilities is being clouded on a daily basis.

Why?  For the most part, the volume of information being received is enormous.  Most of it does nothing more than clutter the mind and distract attention.  Inside organizations the amount of irrelevant information and communications is leading to some of the lowest employee engagement scores globally.

So, what can be done?

Improving Organizational Clarity is one of the most important yet elusive goals of today’s CEO.  Drawing a consistent line of sight from an employee’s job to the marketplace can result in numerous benefits to the business and to the individual.   Innovation, collaboration, integration, efficiency, experience, and new knowledge are all byproducts of such clarity.  But clarity is a daily challenge within companies as people struggle with conflicting priorities, high workloads, multiple reporting lines, silos, and an avalanche of information all conspiring to cloud people’s thinking if not judgment.

Enter Analytics

The journey to changing this reality begins today with analytics.  Make no mistake, the information being sought is not a mere regurgitation of the “hits-clicks-eyes” formula that somehow attempted to place meaning or value on quantity vs. quality while seeking relevance of information and relationships. Rather, analytics is about bringing together a rather large set of variables – content, context, media, timing, socio-economic factors, frequency and cadence, recognition, actions, and word-of-mouth, to name but a few. The new picture being painted mixes science with intuition, data with observation, and facts with perceptions.

Such insights allow senior leaders and communicators alike to gain a better grasp of the intricacies of their workforce and, more importantly, the efficacy of their management model. The result is a more appropriate and responsive communications strategy and effort internally – spending the right time and resources in areas that drive and add clarity, influence behavior, and encourage engagement.

While analytics are certainly driving organizational clarity increasingly, there are a number of trends we will continue to see play out:

  • Employees as your next product – That is to say, we must begin outfitting employees who opt in with information, data, and tools as part of external informal and formal outreach to customers or consumers to build trust and engender relationships.
  • Employee Engagement through conversation – That means creating conversation streams within the organization with specific employee groups – polling them, raising subjects of interest, and obtaining opinions, etc., as a means of involving people in the overall business.
  • Treating employees as customers by defining employee segments by interest vs. function or job position, further honing our understanding of how employees think and process information to further target content.
  • Tying Citizenship and Business Strategy closer together to better align individual values and interests with the direction and approach of the organization.  Studies have found that leading brands are drawing Citizenship closer to Strategy in an attempt to gain employee interest, support and influence behavior.
  • Redefining the Management Model to focus on facilitation, engagement, discussion and debate.  The result is a new set of behaviors and characteristics for manager level professionals.
  • Balancing Social with Facial – In an era of social interaction fostered by new media and technology, the need for face-to-face communications to share knowledge, engender dialogue, and strengthen relationships has never been greater. Unfortunately in too many organizations, managers are relying too much on such new technologies in lieu of conventional face-to-face communications. World-class organizations are balancing internal communications and the management model to reflect this reality.
  • Redesigning Internal Communications Systems – These efforts are toward becoming more open, transparent, interactive, creative and dimensional in terms of content and context.
  • Leadership Messaging Challenges. It doesn’t Cheerlead – Messages and Rhetoric from senior leaders, including CEOs, are taking on a more provocative tone after years of being overly optimistic.  Research has indicated that employees feel more respected when their leaders deal with the reality of the business situation rather than sugarcoating things.  Further, employees want leaders to discuss honestly sensitive issues such as layoffs, offshore job creation, globalization, pricing, restructuring, and financial performance.
  • Strategy as Narrative – The trend continues in translating the business strategy into a narrative that can be followed and comprehended by all employees.  The Narrative is a story arc that is dimensionalized, continually populating all internal communications platforms.
  • Establishing a Communications Standard – Best practice organizations are establishing a Standard for how employees will be communicated with.  Typically designed as a “promise,” the Standard calibrates strategy, management behavior, internal communications, and employee engagement to achieve organizational clarity.

Opening up people’s eyes literally and figuratively is allowing leaders to shine a strong light on how behavior impacts performance.

By improving organizational clarity in all its forms to be a catalyst in helping leadership and the workforce get smarter about the business and their role in in its success can be the major determinant in sustainable growth.