Employees as Company Change Agents

[tweetmeme]No question, companies are struggling to control their brand essence and key messages during this economic slump.  Communicating positive news is more important than ever in the 24/7 news cycle and with an Internet that can circulate good – and, let’s face it, mostly bad – news around the globe in a matter of seconds.  But companies are overlooking their most important advocates to the outside world – their own employees — because of a lack of internal communications.  And this can torpedo a company’s reputation.

It is employees who are most often the primary interface between the company and its customers.  But the media is an increasingly intrusive “partner” as reporters pounce on every bad piece of company news – often coming from the mouths of unhappy employees who are left out of the loop about important new company developments.  Online chat rooms and networking sites like Twitter and Facebook provide a public platform for employees to vent their grievances and the media and customers are tuning in.

New technologies are transforming the way companies do business. But employees are underutilized as advocates of change. They are not being motivated to rally around the company’s mission and goals.  It’s not an overstatement to say that business transformation will only be accomplished by gaining the commitment of employees at all levels to drive growth and performance.  The key to ensuring success is consistency of communications to the right people at the right time with the right messages.

Internal communication efforts often fall short because:

•    Behaviors don’t match the message, especially senior executive behaviors
•    Communicating is not viewed as an important process
•    Communication is blocked at many levels – up, down and across
•    Complicated and lengthy approval processes prevent timely distribution of information
•    Employees don’t hear things first, thus a loss of faith develops
•    Too much is communicated and more important messages are lost in the clutter
•    Employees are turning to their external message boards for news about their own company

Companies that find their employees turning to the Internet as their primary source of information about the company they work for have lost their most important change agents.

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