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Communicating strategy – Not just a “one and done”

For most companies, the first of the year is a time to rally the troops – a time to get laser focused on the company’s strategy and a natural time to communicate annual goals and the role individuals, teams and organizations play in bringing that strategy to life.

Sound familiar? I hope so. In fact, I love the sense of systems and renewal within the seasons society has engrained in us. Every January feels like a fresh start – an opportunity to hover up to the ‘big picture’ and set a roadmap for the year ahead.

That said, all too often the “big push” for strategy communications comes early and often in the beginning of the year – the email from the CEO outlining the strategy, the brand-new intranet page with the supporting detail, and the cascading of performance goals and measures throughout the organization.  While these activities are mission-critical for setting the baseline, communicating company strategy is an evolving, engaging, and multi-channeled experience – more like a constant and consistent conversation vs. a “one and done” approach.

Once the strategy is rolled out and the goals are set, it’s about tending the fire and making it real. Along the way, you have to help people see themselves in the strategy – empowering them to contribute to the whole, trusting their intelligence, and highlighting proof points in a consistent and multi-dimensional way.

How? Keep these guiding principles in mind:

Leverage social and mobile to keep the conversation alive. Many companies are moving towards social and mobile-first intranets and applications – allowing instant communication outside the clutter of day-to-day email. Mobile-first applications can also provide leaders and communicators a curated experience (e.g., targeting by role, function or location) and guide them toward parts of a strategy or a conversation that are most relevant for them.

Think in terms of big “C” and little “c” communications. Big “C” communications – the all-hands meetings, the formal organizational announcements – are critical, but they aren’t the only way to communicate strategy. There is real power in the small, day-to-day conversations (i.e., little “c” communications) that help individuals and teams gain understanding and meaning for themselves.

Communicate strategy with an agile approach. This software development approach is based on a few key principles: small teams, iterative and incremental changes, room for experimentation and interpretation, face-to-face communication and quick feedback cycles. Applying this same mindset to strategy communication can give individuals and teams an opportunity to engage with the strategy vs. just being told what it is. Engaging teams in two-way dialogues, holding regular Q&A sessions with leaders and amplifying examples of how individuals or small teams are adding real value can have a powerful effect on how quickly a company can actualize a global strategy.

Communicating strategy can’t be a ‘one and done activity’ – it’s a conversation, a lifestyle, a muscle that must be built with intention and rigor. Here’s to keeping your company’s strategy alive, purposeful and thriving all year long!

 

Caitlin Strauss Corda is a consultant at Blue Beyond Consulting. In her role she helps organizations, teams and leaders thrive in times of change. To connect with her or the Blue Beyond Team, visit www.bluebeyondconsulting.com

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A Mobile Connection in the Arctic

Ever been to or heard of the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field on the North Slope of Alaska? To be honest, I hadn’t until a few months ago. But recently, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to make the 4,481 mile trek from NYC to the North Slope.

As the largest oil field in North America, Prudhoe Bay lies approximately 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle and is “home” to several thousand workers at any given time. Other than oil rigs, ice roads and a few polar bears, very little else exists except for endless vistas of snow covered tundra.

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You might ask why anyone would consider visiting this cold, dark and remote place in January. The answer is simple–to deploy an app of course! As a recent subscriber to theEMPLOYEEapp, ASRC Energy Services asked for a little help introducing its new, native mobile app to their many employees who service the BP and ConocoPhillips oil facilities.

As one might suspect, there are no telephone poles installed in the tundra–most people are dependent on wireless carriers and satellite systems to communicate. What I learned is that when new oil facilities are built on the North Slope, one of the first things to be installed on a site is a cellular tower. This allows the crews to keep in touch with each other and the rest of the world. It also lends itself quite nicely to the use of a mobile, communications solution like theEMPLOYEEapp.

Given the rapid proliferation of mobile technology and increased connectivity, almost every ASRC employee has their own smart device. Having an app on these devices now allows the company’s employees to remain connected, not only when they are working in these remote locations, but also when they have time off (the typical ASRC employee spends two weeks working on the Slope and then has two weeks off). From ASRC’s perspective, being able to communicate during the “off period” is especially critical in maintaining a high level of employee engagement.

Both ASRC and its employees were excited to learn of the capabilities that their new app offered them. theEMPLOYEEapp allows them to have immediate access to benefit and payroll information so they don’t have to wait until they go home to access this information from a desktop computer. Since the app can play the role of a mobile intranet, they now have the ability to access large and heavy manuals for emergencies and training purposes that they otherwise would have to lug around with them. And, since the CEO is based in Anchorage, it provides him with the ability to shoot videos and audio recordings that can then be “pushed” directly to his employees, allowing him to maintain a personal connection with the individuals who work so hard, day-in and day-out, for the benefit of the company that he runs.

This is the beauty of theEMPLOYEEapp solution.

My trip to the North Slope of Alaska was an experience of a lifetime. After traveling almost 10,000 miles round-trip and speaking with a few hundred front line employees, I have a brand new respect for the challenges of communicating with a workforce that is truly remote. I also have a totally different perspective on the value of having a mobile, internal communications solution that allows an organization to connect, share and engage with its employees on their personal mobile devices. And while I am looking forward to making a return trip, I have to admit that I hope my next visit is during the Summer.

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2015: The Year of Mobile Employee Engagement

Keeping employees engaged is one of the major challenges internal communications professionals face, particularly as today’s workforce is dispersed and employees are much less reliant on desktop computers. In order to address the challenge of employee engagement, APPrise Mobile has launched a create-your-own version of theEMPLOYEEapp. Now companies of any size can have their own app on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play for Android mobile devices. With the new self-service model, companies can quickly and cost-effectively create an app to share information with their employees. To learn more about our self-service version of theEMPLOYEEapp, we hope you will listen to our vlog below.

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