Employee Communication Masterclass reviewed

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by Sarah Harrison, IABC

‘Do less. Do it better’was the theme to Steve and Cindy Crescenzo’s Internal Communications Masterclass at Simply Communicate this week. Steve and Cindy are a charismatic husband and wife team who travel the world coaching leaders and communicators to update their strategies and produce amazing communications that people love. They are fun company and deliver a highly effective Masterclass: After all, we learn more when we’re enjoying ourselves right?

Steve began by explaining: “The old way doesn’t work anymore. As IC professionals, are we just everyone’s private publisher, pushing their messages out through different channels? No! We’re strategic communicators, changing behaviour.

“In this age of 8,000 new apps launching every day – our communications have to fit in somewhere. If we don’t tell poignant creative stories then we will sink. We all have employees in our organisations with passionate dramatic stories, but we’re not getting them because we’re ‘deck-heads’.”

 Steve and Cindy illustrated how crucial it is to make the important interesting and avoid the four deadly Ps: Programmes, Policies, Products and Procedures. With a focus instead on People – and there are at least three layers when questioning an employee, before they will really open up – so keep digging!

They shared several case-studies depicting worst and best practice in Internal Communications. These were great reminders of what to avoid (the super-dull CEO reading quarterly figures to camera) and what we should be aiming for with the third layer of questioning (an employee revealing the real reason they work for a pharmaceutical company: their father died young of cancer, their mother suffers from MS.)

As communicators we need to prioritise to create the best content we can. As Steve pointed out: Who cares if we made our deadlines if nobody read it? Who cares if we got it approved if nobody liked it?

Cindy then took us through her step-by-step guide to measuring the effectiveness of our communications. This was an invaluable strategy we could all implement the next day. Rarely is something we all find so difficult to action, made so clear and easy to adopt.

We finished the Masterclass with an exercise called the six-word story. This can be effective for eliciting sentiment from employees; but in this case we were asked to create a six-word story about the Masterclass we’d just completed. Mine was: Step back. New Rules. Move forward.Others included: Take risks make it about peopleand Influencing leaders through data and evidence. 

Afterwards I asked Steve and Cindy where they felt they’d made the most difference with a client during their years as consultants. They’d worked with a number of global blue-chip companies, so their answer surprised me. When working with the Seattle Children’s Hospital to improve how they were communicating to the families and relations of patients, they had conducted focus groups and collected a great deal of feedback. This included powerful stories about experiences they’d had at the hospital and the positive impact of the  employees there. Cindy smiled as she recalled how, what started as a simple communications audit, turned into something much more meaningful for engagement, as employees learned first-hand about the difference they were making to families’ lives.

You can get in touch with Steve and Cindy Crescenzo here.