One thing is certain when it comes to working in the Mediterranean and I don’t mean the great weather, food and drink. What has been clear since my arrival has been the unrivaled welcome from everyone everywhere to feel right at home and among friends. None more so than a recent visit to the Greek capital Athens.
I knew from the moment I landed that friend and colleague Tasos Pagakis meant every word when he assured me of a great welcome and experience into his country. For me this was just another stop to one of our offices for a number of internal meetings and a planned meet and greet with the first of our very enthusiastic brand ambassadors. For Tasos there was much more on my agenda.
No sooner had I arrived, an enormous Trigona Panoramatos was thrust into my hand in the arrivals lounge – a triangular shaped filo pastry stuffed with cream. This was going to be some trip! I was then whisked away for a photo shoot at a conference where Tasos was one of the panel guests. The reason for the impromptu shoot was that he had earlier lined up an interview with the Greek Marketing Week magazine.
Internal Communication is never usually high on the agenda when pitching stories to media, so this was an opportunity not be missed. The brief was simple – how Internal Communication has evolved into a highly sophisticated business support tool. This week the interview was published in print and online to an estimated readership of 10,000 covering all corporate, brand communicators and marketeers in Greece. Google Translate probably doesn’t help a great deal, so reproduced below is the article in full.
Thanks again to Tasos and also the team at Marketing Week in Greece for allowing me this opportunity.
Adam Lloyd, Ericsson: “People are the most important assets of a company”
An unexpected but esteemed audience guest we have had in the latest Corporate communication conference. Adam Lloyd found himself in Greece to follow the conference and we had the opportunity to pose him some critical questions for the current view and future evolution of Internal communications.
Would you agree that, company employees are the first and most important advocates for companies and their brands & services?
Our brand is the key to great customer recognition and for Ericsson that starts by building it from the inside, so we’ve always held the position that our people are our greatest asset. They are the ones who have daily contact with our customers, and they have a stronger impact on our brand than any communication action. Everything that each of us does, says or creates has an impact on how the company is perceived. The way we collaborate with our customers, the solutions we arrive at and the way we treat each other in the emails we write – all of these reflect on our company. We have various programs on competence development, sales excellence, employee engagement initiatives and internal tools to boost morale and respond to any issues, so all of us can perform and be self-confident brand ambassadors.
How is Internal Communication linked to achieving business plan goals and strategy targets?
Where Internal Communication adds value to the business is to make the complex simple. What we mean by that, is to provide simple and clear description of Ericsson’s goals and strategies to ensure that all our people recognize and understand where we are heading and the part they play in reaching that goal. We focus our efforts on clearly communicating our strategy and in a way that everyone is engaged in helping to achieve it. Internal Communication looks at the years Balanced Scorecard of the company and each of its activations come in line with the business plans of each unit served by it. Having said this, we know first-hand that in the company, Internal Communication is about facilitating change and innovation; primarily in the minds of our people and their day to day actions.
How is it linked to the overall communication strategy of a business and what is the special bond between Internal Communication and CSR? Volunteerism is thriving …
Communication has the ability to change lives, distances and societies, and at Ericsson we have a strong belief that we can contribute to this change. In a Networked Society everything that can be connected will be connected in the future and Internal Communication is a strong performer in the future of the company. Our employees everyday show creative and inspiring ways of linking our technology to a positive effect on people, business and society. It’s these kinds of ideas and enthusiasm that this company’s future relies on. By promoting collaboration, innovation teams’ activity streams, idea boxes, and employee initiatives is the first step to sustain a “contributor” culture within the organization.
Through activities such as volunteering programs inside the company, or with our external partners driving initiatives and innovative solutions such as Ericsson Response, Millennium Villages, Refugees United, and PeaceEarth Foundation, we reinforce our commitment to making positive contributions to the communities in which we work and live. It’s about doing good in society and doing well as a business. One element to our Internal Communication strategy is geared around “One Ericsson”, for the organization to feel proud and confident about progress, and positive about achievements, whilst also being motivated to perform.
Is social media a precious tool or a dangerous threat for Internal Communication? What are the latest trends/developments regarding new tools and platforms for Internal Communication?
We have a generation now like no other with instant communication and collaborative platforms. For Internal Communication this is an extremely powerful tool and one that we most definitely want to be a part of. Outside of the office environment, people are sharing news, information, photos and video constantly with friends, family and colleagues even. Why does that need to stop once you’re in the office? Many organizations such as Ericsson are allowing those conversations to continue through internal social platforms, micro-blogging and intranets in a way that encourages a smarter way of working. Now we see projects of all sizes, across borders and continents benefiting through knowledge sharing and becoming part of daily activity.
Ericsson places a lot of trust in its employees and crucially aware of the role it plays in creating an environment that is productive and innovative through its use of social media tools. Through good internal communication and engagement at all levels we really are creating an inspiring place to work.
Greek businesses are struggling in the context of severe financial crisis. Layoffs and salary cuts are common practice. How can Internal Communication face these issues, talk to employees that are probably scared and resentful and inspire them?
What is important is to keep employees well informed of any organizational changes but not in a top-down approach. Creating a channel for employees to respond, whether it’s an employee satisfaction survey or breakfast meetings with management to voice any concerns and have access to the details behind such plans, can help. Talking with employees rather than to them is when having good communicative leaders is essential. Immediate managers are usually the ones that employees will turn to first and, quite rightly, will expect them to have many of the answers. It’s during times like these that the value of Internal Communications can really be by coaching and facilitating leaders, whilst being clear on the company strategy.