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This past week we welcomed the first day of spring here in NYC.  You wouldn’t know it by looking at the weather which is still hovering somewhere in the 40 degree range, but it’s true, its spring. 

While some may follow Tennyson and believe that spring is meant to turn one’s thoughts to love, I of course think of spring and ruminate on similarities between this time of year and establishment of successful employee programs.  I know, it’s so sad, I must have some sort of sickness – but then again, hear me out…

One of the predominant activities of springtime is gardening, and as every gardener knows the absolutely most essential element of a successful garden is healthy soil.  And so it goes with people programs, if the ground you’re planting your people program seeds in is essentially ‘bad soil’, you can’t possibly expect anything to grow.  Makes sense, right?  Of course right.  Now let’s dig deeper (sorry, couldn’t help it).

As I said, soil is arguably the most important component in a successful garden.  Soil is generally evaluated on fertility and texture. Fertility is a combination of essential nutrients and a pH that makes these nutrients available to the plants.  Texture refers to the size of the soil particles and their cohesiveness.   So too an organizational culture can serve as the ‘soil’ for your people programs.  It, like soil, also needs to be evaluated to see if anything can grow.  While soil focuses on fertility and texture, you might want to evaluate your culture for engagement issues such as team cohesion and trust in management. 

So how do you know if you have bad soil?  The only way to know for sure is to have it tested.  As in a garden, a quick guestimate of your soil’s health can be made by looking at your plants (i.e. employees).  If they are thriving, don’t fix what isn’t broken.  If they are languishing, it would be worth testing your soil.   Then focus on preparing the ground – aerate and provide nutrients to your cultural soil through ongoing communication, weed out issues that can poison the well water, and nurture and tend your culture on an ongoing basis…etc.   I could find a dozen more analogies but you get the point.   

The bottom line is plants won’t grow in bad soil and neither will your people programs, and in truth, ultimately, neither will your employees.  Take the time to create healthy soil and you’ll be reaping the rewards of your garden before you know it. 

Oh and remember, “Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.”  ~ Lou Erickson
Happy spring!

You may or may not have heard that Vlogs (or video blogs) are ‘the new black’ of internal communications. If you haven’t, then you heard it here first!  Hooray for me.   Anyway, I know first hand that Vlogs or video blogs can be a very powerful tool to engage and inform your employees.

I have actually produced a few internal Vlog initiatives with great success as part of my communications plans. Based on that experience, here’s list of things I think need to be considered before picking up a camera and popping some powder on your boss’ nose:

  1. First, ask the obvious question – what’s the goal? For example if your goal is to heighten transparency, get your time-strapped leadership out in front of the troops more often, keep the team informed and engaged during a complex time or simply want to demystify an initiative – a Vlog might be the perfect tool.
  2. Is this the right platform for your particular leadership? I can’t emphasize this enough. Focusing on the ‘right’ platform and content for your leader(s) is absolutely critical. Honestly assess your leadership and maybe do a test run or two to ensure they’re fully comfortable in front of the camera. Remember that successfully positioning your leadership will result in greater trust in your judgment, and ultimately in stronger support for your communications initiatives. Don’t let them fail or God forbid be embarrassed, or I can guarantee they’ll never trust you again.
  3. If that panicked warning caused you to take pause, don’t lose heart. Vlogs can be very effective in other ways – think of community building initiatives like employee vlogs, a regional series, philanthropic event reporting and on and on. A casual home movie style of a vlog could be just what you need to create a sense of team in your organization.
  4. Ensure a clear purpose and commitment to transparency. Make sure employees know why you’re doing a Vlog (vs. email etc). And differentiate this platform as representing the height of transparency and ‘unfiltered’ communication.
  5. If measuring viewership is key – send to web link vs. access via email. Natch.
  6. Openness to two way dialogue. As with most platforms, ensure folks know how they can get in on crafting the content, and basically ‘being heard.
  7. Maintain an archive – and share the link periodically. Folks that are late to the party might want to see what they’ve missed. I’ve also found this useful when I’ve received requests from other internal organizations that were seeking to mimic this platform.
  8. Be creative, have fun. Fairly obvious, I know, but still worth mentioning. See Pt. 3 above – find unique locations to film – rotate featured speakers – choose a large topic and break it down into a chapter series etc. etc. Remember, this can be a very fun, inexpensive and powerful tool if used correctly…AND you’ll be the creative genius who made it all happen.

If you have any questions, are still unsure if a Vlog is the right tool for your needs, or have some practical questions on the actual filming process, feel free to ping me. I love talking about this stuff!

March 2011
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