Enabling real problem solving and first-hand experience sharing - with Employee Communication leading the way.
A multinational, mid-size company was aware of the common problems their employees were dealing with. At the time those were rather broadly defined issues such as; malfunctioning systems, broken inter-company processes, inappropriate communication channels and messages and lacking customer-centric actions.
In their quest to find the real issues, different methodologies including tailored surveys and informal roundtables were used. But, unfortunately none of these helped reveal the real issues either. Employees stated that their problems were not identified correctly, nor did they find a way to describe them in the context of their individual business situations, and they certainly did not feel that their issues were effectively acknowledged nor handled appropriately. Employees also mentioned that even if they had found a solution for a problem, they quickly moved on and that they were too busy, or there was no appropriate platform to share their experience with others around the globe. Does this sound familiar? Fortunately, the client did not give up and took the time to dig deeper. As a result together we developed the 5 practical steps for better experience sharing through Employee Communication and a corresponding model.
Some facts and why standard problem solving methods are not helping:
In recent surveys by Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, of 106 C-suite executives who represented 91 private and public-sector companies in 17 countries, found that 85% strongly agreed or agreed that their organizations were bad at problem diagnosis, and 87% agreed that this flaw carried significant costs. It was found that managers quickly switch into solution mode without checking if they really understand the problem.
Standard sourcing methods and their pitfalls
In my experience, standard sourcing methods of problem identification have so far relied on either employee surveys, including specific questionnaires designed by consulting agencies, focus groups, or workout sessions, etc. No doubt, they are all aimed at finding the real issues and root cause of the problems. However, all the methods I have come across in many years of working in employee communication have one thing in common: they often don´t state the real, practical and true issues employees are facing in their day-to-day work. In addition, their implementation is rather costly. Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, however has developed a more innovative approach to helping companies re-frame the problem by seeing if there is another problem that lies beneath the initial statement, which needs to be resolved. As new methods are being developed, I encourage Employee Communication colleagues with their skills and "direct access" to employees to lead the way.
Understanding a problem and helping individuals is great – BUT sharing experience is even better!
Problem identification and solving, and hence the employee experience, positive or negative, is often routed in a challenging business environment – either posed by external stakeholders or internal organizational change. In such situations, some leaders are good listeners and show they care by helping to remove current obstacles and encourage communication on a one-on-one basis. This works well on an individual basis. For recurring issues and fundamental organizational problems, however experience shows that an open dialogue and collaborative learning approach is needed. The sharing of experience associated thereof bring greater value to the entire organization.
Simple and creative employee communication strategy to lead the way
In many companies the role of Employee Communication is to support the roll-out of the problem-solving methodology with various teams and help with the implementation of the communication tactics.
However, I plead for a more proactive and leading role of Employee Communication from the start. Helping to reveal the real problems as well as enable organizations to connect and involve their employees, and show gratitude for people’s problem solving efforts.
Leaders to execute on their core role
In order for this approach to be successful, the prerequisites are: authentic leadership, being a role model, doing the right thing and being able to inspire others. I truly believe that these are the core skills for successful leadership, no matter at what level in the organization.
C-suite executives, don´t need to be the experts in everything, BUT they do need to demonstrate their keen interest and be able to understand the real problems of their employees. They need to lead the way in creating a culture of open dialogue about things that don´t work and take action for the better of their employees and customers. In my career, I have been fortunate to have worked with leaders who truly live this approach. And, I am convinced that as a result of this leadership style those leaders have managed to work with highly motivated employees and together lead very successful and innovative companies.
In summary, the 5 practical steps for better experience sharing through Employee Communication is a great model that will help organizations build pride and engagement. You will observe that experience sharing will go viral. With time you will not need to explicitly encourage employees to share their experiences, but the dialogue will naturally happen. People will take the extra effort and enjoy sharing their personal success stories. This behavior will increase personal job satisfaction as well positively influence the overall company’s success not to forget: help build a sense of community – because sharing is caring!
Are you ready to lead the way? Tell us what you think and share your personal experiences with us.
Rupal Purohit Ulrich is Managing Director of RPU Communication Concepts, an Independent Employee Communication Consulting company. And, together with Christine Köchli, she is the co-author of the communicate smart blog.