Heres a true story that will sound familiar if youre a communicator in a global organization.
A major industrial company (well call it Acme) has been successful for many decades, but senior leadership is concerned that Acme is not keeping pace with growing competition. So the leadership team spent months developing a new strategy that will make Acme more nimble and able to respond quickly to customer needs. Senior leaders decide to call this strategy Customers Fast.
The CEO asks the internal communication team to communicate the new strategy. And team members quickly swing into action:
- They support the CEO when he presents Customers Fast at the global town hall meeting.
- A video is created for the town hall, which is then posted on the intranets new Customers Fast landing page.
- Communicators write a series of articles, which are shared with employees in the weekly newsletter.
- The team creates content for senior leaders to post on the internal social media site.
Everyone feels good about the effort until the CEO pays a visit to Acmes operations in Europe. When he chats informally with employees, they nod when he mentions Customers Fast, but they dont seem to know much about it. The CEO begins to suspect that all the communication hasnt had an effect. So when the CEO lands in Bucharest, he asks the Hungary country manager, who is known for his candor, whats going on.
Quite frankly, Customers Fast doesnt seem relevant to what were doing here, the country manager tells the CEO. So far, its just an abstract concept. Until we understand what we need to do differently, well continue to focus on our current priorities.
Whats the problem? Although the internal communication effort was extensive, the program missed a critical element: enlisting leaders at all levels and in all locations to engage employees.