13. Apply data protection by design and by default.
This means that personal data must be processed with the highest privacy protection in place. For example, only the necessary personal data should be processed, it should not be stored for longer than necessary and it should not be accessible to anyone who doesn’t need it.
Data protection by design
The use of pseudonymisation (replacing personally identifiable material with artificial identifiers) and encryption (encoding messages so only those authorised can read them).
Data protection by default
A social media platform should be encouraged to set users’ profile settings in the most privacy-friendly setting by, for example, limiting from the start the accessibility of the users’ profile so that it isn’t accessible by default to an indefinite number of persons.
14. Put mechanisms in place to obtain informed consent.
Ensure users on your website are actively consenting to having their data collected. This means that every form contains an opt-in that is not completed by default. In other words, if you have a check-box for users to consent to your collection of their email address or other personal data, it cannot be checked by default. The user must be required to check the box in order to consent to their data being collected.
15. Explain cookies.
16. Empower data subjects to exercise their rights.
Create mechanisms for data subjects to easily request:
A copy of their data.
Updates/changes to their data.
Deletion of their data.
Secure transfer of their data to a third party.
17. Identify when data protection impact assessments are needed.
According to the EU Commission website, a data protection impact assessments (DPIA) is required when processing of personal information is likely to result in high risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects.
The EU Commission website provides the following examples to illustrate situations when a DPIA may or may not be required:
A bank screening its customers against a credit reference database; a hospital about to implement a new health information database with patients’ health data; a bus operator about to implement on-board cameras to monitor drivers’ and passengers’ behaviour.
DPIA not required
A doctor processing personal data of his patients. In that case, there is no need for a DPIA since the processing by the doctors isn’t done on a large scale in cases where the number of patients is limited.
18. Obtain and re-validate consent of data subjects.
Determine how you are going to get consent from existing data subjects. This usually takes the form of an email sent out to all contacts to gather their explicit consent. The request should be specific and simple. It should explain what you are collecting, why and how long you will keep it. It must include the name of your company and any third parties that interact with the data and it must inform data subjects that they may withdraw their consent at any time. Make sure you keep records of this consent and review this periodically.
19. Examine data transfer procedures and policies.
What is your process for managing personal data transfers? Do you use encryption? Where is data housed before and after the transfer? Get IT involved to ensure you have a strong and compliant process for protecting cross-border transfers of personal data and that only the necessary data is being transferred.
20. Plan for breaches.
Develop an action plan to implement in the event of a breach. Ensure you have adequate breach detection mechanisms in place and a process for investigating data breaches. Document a process for reporting breaches to the relevant supervisory authority as soon as possible and no later than 72 hours after the data controller is aware. Your breach notification plan should include training for staff at every level and workflow rules to ensure a compliant process is followed and no steps are missed.
21. Consider implications for data subjects under age 16.
Implement a mechanism to ensure data subjects under 16 are identified and that collection, storage and processing procedures comply with GDPR regulations for consent.
22. Document your GDPR compliance journey.
Keep detailed records of your progress toward GDPR compliance. This can be in the form of a data register, procedures documentation or other record of your efforts to comply with data protection regulations. This should include:
Results of your data inventory exercise.
Data mapping activities.
Awareness and training.
Original compliance assessment.
Resources brought in to help.
Process used to notify and gain informed consent from data subjects.
23. Implement continuous monitoring.
Once you have all your processes and policies in place and documented, you’ll need to check back at regular intervals to assess their performance. Set a schedule for auditing GDPR compliance, stick to it and document each audit.
The benefits of GDPR compliance
This may seem like an awful lot of work, but the benefits—aside from avoiding huge fines—are many. Every company can benefit from taking an inventory of the personal data they collect, store and process. From a security standpoint, this provides an opportunity to review security processes and strengthen them. From a customer service perspective, the GDPR compliance process will reassure customers that your company takes their privacy seriously and help to gain their trust.
This article originally appeared here and is reprinted with permission from the author.
Dawn Lomer is the managing editor at i-Sight Software and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She writes about topics related to workplace investigations, ethics and compliance, data security and e-discovery, and hosts i-Sight webinars.
If you haven’t established a paid social media strategy, now is the time. With the decline of organic reach and the focus on “meaningful interactions” on Facebook (and other channels) it is getting harder for brands to reach their target audiences without paying for some coverage.
But before you jump in to the paid digital space, it’s important to build a strategy and understand a few key points. Even if you are currently running paid social media campaigns, the four following areas are essential to review and update throughout the year as you tweak your plans.
As with all advertising campaigns, digital advertising campaigns will only be successful if you focus on and know your audience. The beauty of social media advertising is that you can get specific in your demographic settings. For example, if you want to target women, ages 35-45, who live in Palo Alto, California, graduated from Stanford University, and indicate nursing as a job title, you can do that.
Many platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and even Google (to a point) provide you with the opportunity to save/name those audiences once they are set. So, if you do your research up front and keep track of what you find/who you want to reach, you won’t have to re-invent the wheel each time you want to run an ad campaign on these channels (unless said campaign is for a completely different audience).
I have found that keeping a spreadsheet or other document with tabs for each channel where you can track and update your audiences’ demographic lists is helpful for when it comes time to plan additional campaigns. It’s also helpful for you to see at a high level which demographic positions are available on each channel, because they can vary from platform to platform.
Choose your channels wisely, especially if you have a limited budget to work with. As a rule of thumb, I like to run paid campaigns on one or two channels at a time and do some comparisons. It may also come down to the parameters you’re able to set per your audience specifications, above. For instance, if you are looking at reaching business professionals in the cybersecurity space, LinkedIn may give you better results in terms of reach and being able to drill down by industry, job title and company size than another channel would.
The point is to think strategically about your audiences—where do they hang out online? What is the most effective way to reach them? Does the channel you’re advertising on provide you with the right layout, word count and visual element options to get your point(s) across? The Pew Research Institute has some great stats on social media usage for 2018 that can also inform which channels you choose to use to reach certain audiences.
Keep in mind that there are varying levels of rules around what you can or cannot do and say in your social media ads. Some of that depends on the channel themselves (such as Facebook) and some of it depends on overall Federal Trade Commission regulations. Be familiar with all of these parameters.
There is no magic number for marketing budgets. Many factors play a role—your industry, size of your company, the number of channels you’ll be on, etc. As a rule of thumb, averages across all industries is a marketing budget between 5 and 7 percent of the organization’s total budget. For nonprofits, that number might be around 3 percent and for larger corporations, it could be as high as 13 percent of the company’s overall budget. These percentages keep all aspects of marketing in mind, so do what works for you, but make sure that within that percentage you do have a line item for paid social media campaigns.
Don’t just create content for the sake of creating content. Identify your key performance indicators (KPIs) and what you will deem “successful” for your campaigns. Are you trying to build brand awareness? Impressions and reach might be great stats to track. Are you interested in bringing in more leads to your website? Click-through-rates (CTRs) and conversions would be good to track in that instance. Keep a pulse on what your overall business goals are, how your paid campaign strategies support those, and what to track in order to report those successes to others.
You will not be able to decipher if your paid social media campaign worked after the first run. You can’t run one Facebook-boosted post, take the information from that campaign and call it a day. As we say in the content marketing world, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Test various aspects of your campaigns for a minimum of a six-month period of time. Track results always, but don’t close the book on anything until you have an adequate amount of data to compare to one another. Six months is a good starting point—a year is even better.
There have been myriad changes in the digital space in the past few months and a rather big one that goes into effect on 25 May (GDPR). As business communicators, it is our job to stay on top of the regulations and channels. If you are asking for information in your ads, be sure that your content is appropriate/allowed for that channel and that you are not breaking any rules in the data collection game. Even if you are not in the EU or have clients in that area, act like you do anyway so you are compliant with GDPR. Audiences appreciate a protection of their information and will always appreciate your transparency for how you might use something.
At the end of the day, whether you are running organic or paid content, the information you put out on social media should solve a pain point or serve a true purpose for your audience. And, just as you would with your organic content, do not forget to monitor, listen and engage with comments that come from your paid campaigns as well. Social media is a two-way communication strategy. Keep that in mind throughout all your social media content creation and you should find success along the way.
Melissa Harrison is CEO of Allee Creative. With 15+ years experience, her work focuses on marketing strategy, branding and business development. She’s been named a “Top Young Entrepreneur” by Minnesota Business Magazine, a “Top Content Marketer” by the Content Marketing Institute, and a “Mover & Shaker” by the Star Tribune. Harrison is a 4-time recipient of the Hermes Creative Award, an international speaker, and one of 100 women to watch in the U.S. as part of The Inspirational Women Project.
Social media have all of the attributes and faults of a teenager. Like teenagers, social media are testing our patience and resolve, as any parent of a teenager will attest.
You now sit at the crossroads, in which you must admit that what you perceived as a shiny and new communication tool 10 years ago is now possibly the bane of your existence.
Experts came from all corners of the earth telling you that social media would allow you to engage with customers and employees. You were asking your stakeholders to “join the conversation,” and “be heard.” Admit it. Aren’t there days when you wish you could just tell the many voices on social media to just shut the heck up?
Organizations that adopted social media for only sales and marketing, and not for strategic communication, were foolish. Why? Well, when something goes wrong, where do people go to complain? They go to social media. If your social media channels are filled with marketing, then no one on the strategic communication side of the organization has a means to listen and engage.
While organizations were focused on social media as a selling tool, they failed to recognize it as their primary “un-selling” tool. When a customer has a complaint, they vent and rant on social media, where other customers get to see that complaint, and then share their own bad experiences. When a crisis happens, big or small, social media amplify that crisis. Communicators must be prepared to rapidly respond to the crisis. Yet in responding to the crisis, you must use expert judgment to determine if responding on social media will quell the crisis, or if it is more akin to pouring gasoline on the crisis.
At the social media crossroads, your crisis communication plan must anticipate how audiences will react to a social media post. Many in the field of professional communication believe that posting crisis details to social media and replying to each comment during the crisis is an act of being transparent. As a maverick, I would strongly disagree. Transparency can be achieved by way of a news conference and posting news releases to your corporate website. A link to video from the news conference can be posted on social media. A link to your website can be posted on social media. But a reply on social media to any comment, good or bad, can catapult your post and crisis to the top of everyone’s newsfeed, creating a vortex and volume of comments that should not be your highest priority during a crisis.
Furthermore, organizations must recognize that where once the news media was first on the scene reporting to the masses during a crisis, now it can be any human with a cellphone. By default, the person with the cellphone who is first to post images and video to social media during a crisis becomes your default spokesperson, until you provide a better spokesperson with a better perspective and better images.
Can you produce a news release at the speed of Twitter?
Do you have a spokesperson who can make a statement at the speed of YouTube?
Social media are a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. Organizations that saw them only as shiny and new have been cut.
Would you agree that it is time to stop the bleeding?
To gain more insights on social media, join Gerard Braud at the IABC World Conference in Montréal. His session “Social media at the crossroads” takes place Monday, 4 June, at 10:30 a.m. in the reputation track.
Gerard Braud is an international expert, coach, trainer, author and speaker, who has worked with organizations on five continents. Author of Don’t Talk to the Media: 29 Secrets You Need to Know Before You Open Your Mouth to a Reporter, Braud is widely regarded as an expert in crisis communications and media issues. Learn more at www.braudcommunications.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you confident that you have done everything you need to do to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)? In a recent study, fewer than half of the companies represented were ready for the GDPR to come into effect on 25 May. The study also revealed that people are still confused about whether or not the regulation applies to them.
Does the GDPR apply to my company?
In a nutshell, the GDPR applies to any organization that processes the data of European Union citizens, not just companies resident in the EU. Naturally, it applies directly to companies that are based in the EU, but it also applies to companies that offer services to, or collect, store or monitor the data of EU citizens, no matter where in the world the company is located.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on 25 May 2018. It governs the way companies handle, store and transfer the personal data of EU citizens. But just because your company isn’t based in the EU or doesn’t have any customers there doesn’t mean you are off the hook.
A company may have personal information of EU citizens in its databases if it has a website that collects information on visitors. Even IP addresses are considered to be “personal information.” What about your marketing databases? Could they contain any names or email address of EU citizens? Do you have contractors or employees in the EU?
The following steps will put you on the road to GDPR compliance and a healthier and more robust data security environment.
1. Complete a data inventory.
The first step toward GDPR compliance is to understand what data your company collects, stores, processes and transfers. This is a great exercise for any company to carry out. It forces you to examine your business processes as they relate to data. By documenting what you do, why you do it and how, you can expose the areas where you can improve or simplify processes. Do you need to collect all the data that you collect? Are there better or more secure ways to collect and store it? By streamlining what you collect and how you collect it, you can reduce risk.
2. Determine where data is being stored.
Mapping out where all your personal data is stored allows you to assess its security and portability. Do you have a way to quickly access data when requested? Are there mechanisms to delete it or download it if a data subject requests it. If not, what mechanisms can be put in place without compromising security?
3. Raise awareness.
The GDPR is no small matter and non-compliance can cost your company up to €20 million or four percent of its annual global revenue, whichever is higher. It’s critical that all employees with access to personal data are aware of the requirements and understand what’s at stake. This starts with company culture that prioritizes good data governance. If your employees see data security as a top priority for the company, communicated through strong policies and procedures and reinforced through training and follow-up, GDPR compliance will be easier to achieve.
4. Get everyone on board.
Take a holistic approach to achieving compliance by involving as many stakeholders as necessary. This includes IT, privacy, marketing, legal, business processes, corporate security and the board. You’ll need to eliminate silos to ensure every part of the business that touches data is aware and participating in the process of achieving compliance.
5. Assess the current state of GDPR compliance.
It’s important to know the state of your company’s current data security processes in order to determine what needs to be done to achieve compliance. What security measures are already in place? Where do you keep data, and do you have mechanisms for ensuring deletion? Can you provide data subjects with their data? Conduct a gap analysis to compare what you have in place to what you need to have in place.
6. Identify the steps to compliance.
Make a list of the GDPR requirements that you don’t currently meet. These could involve network security, hardware, software, systems and processes, staffing and policies.
7. Prioritize each step.
Assign the highest priority to the highest risk items, regardless of the amount of effort and expense each step will require. The potential astronomical penalties for non-compliance should drive your risk assessment and determine which areas should be tackled first.
8. Determine the resources you’ll need.
You may need to bring in outside help to meet the privacy requirements of the GDPR.
Outsourcing could include:
Data privacy experts
Other third-party experts
9. Create a GDPR compliance plan.
Ensure all stakeholders are involved in this process and share the plan with everyone who will be called upon to complete tasks as part of the compliance process.
10. Put staff in place.
Designate or hire a data protection officer who will be responsible for seeing the compliance process through and will also bear the responsibility of continuous monitoring once the processes and policies are in place. Assess the need for other roles to implement and monitor the policies and processes related to ongoing compliance and hire or designate these as necessary.
11. Train employees.
Ensure everyone who has a role in the new processes understands the importance of the regulation. Train all staff in the new procedures and policies. Document all training and have employees acknowledge the training by signing a training log or similar record.
12. Notify contacts and customers.
Let your customers and contacts (data subjects) know about the changes in your privacy policies and processes that you are implementing. Inform them of their rights under the GDPR and explain what they need to do if they would like to exercise those rights.
Here are examples of wording for informing customers and contacts of changes in privacy policies and processes:
In order to keep you informed about how we use your personal data, we’ve updated the privacy policies for our websites. Please read our new policies, which will be effective starting May 25, 2018. Our updated privacy policies outline the following:
Why we collect your personal data and what we do with it
Legal grounds for processing personal data
Data privacy user rights and how to exercise them
How to contact us about data privacy
If you no longer wish to interact with us and would like to delete your personal data from our servers, please visit our data management portal.
We have created a new privacy center to make it easy for you to find legal and privacy information.
We’ve added a new legal page to our website with information on how we handle personal information and data.
We’ve provided a detailed description of our security practices in simple language that everyone can understand. It explains how our customers can audit our security.
We’ve created a help center that explains how to exercise your data privacy rights and how to control the use of your personal information.
We’ve given you instructions on how to get our help for your data requests. We’ve also provided instructions for how to get our help to respond to data requests you might receive from third parties you contact using our services.
We’ve included information on how we use machine learning technology, cookies and other tracking technologies to personalize the information you receive from us.
We’ve outlined how we aggregate data to help us analyze trends and how that helps us provide better service to our customers and contacts.
We’ve also explained our collaboration with trusted partners to improve the quality of personal information we collect, to understand how data subjects interact with our site, and to determine what products and services interest our customers.
Next week, we’ll continue with the remaining steps to help you understand GDPR compliance.
This article originally appeared here and is reprinted with permission from the author.
Dawn Lomer is the managing editor at i-Sight Software and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She writes about topics related to workplace investigations, ethics and compliance, data security and e-discovery, and hosts i-Sight webinars.
When it comes to leadership, the research is clear: It’s better to be a fox than a hedgehog.
The idea of a hedgehog-fox divide comes from the ancient Greek poet Archilochus, who wrote that “a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one important thing.” For most of the last century, we’ve been inclined to think of CEOs as hedgehogs, because they were generally leading companies that made singular things: Disney made kids’ movies, IBM made computers, General Electric made household electronics. Now, though, most organizations serve multiple audiences in various ways: Disney makes multi-platform, cross-generational entertainment, IBM makes technology solutions, GE makes wind turbines and medical imaging devices in addition to your toaster. By extension, the notion that a CEO needs a broader view has become more pervasive.
That requires a lot of conversation. Earlier this month, Cassandra Frangos, author of Crack the C-Suite Code, spoke on the Wharton School of Business podcast about the increasing number of direct reports a CEO has, from six two decades ago to a dozen or more now. And, she points out, some firms are dispensing with the role of the COO, giving the chief executive more direct control over operations. “I think because of what many organizations are facing, they do need to have the direct levers on the business unit,” she says. “The CEO doesn’t really want a layer in between him or herself and the business units or the different functions. Everybody configures the chief operating officer very differently, but they really are looking to have more of that direct relationship, direct access, and not a management layer in between.”
This is as true for the typical association executive as it is the Fortune 500 leader—an association CEO needs a fox-like awareness about membership, communication, advocacy, meetings, finance, education, and how technology is changing every one of those things. But the pressure this puts on CEOs is not so much to become an expert in all of those disciplines, but to become an expert in gaining the understanding they need about them to make good decisions.
In that regard, CEOs may be lacking in the support they need. A recent study of more than 400 executives by the firm Egon Zehnder found that nearly half of respondents (47 percent) said “developing their senior leadership team was more or much more difficult than anticipated.” Moreover, CEOs are also struggling to find sounding boards. Barely half (51 percent) solicit feedback from their senior leadership team, and 24 percent said, “you have to rely on your own judgment.” In the words of the study’s authors, the findings reveal a “stunning lack of communication among important stakeholders.”
That’s a serious problem, because breadth of communication plays a critical role in CEO’s success. Earlier this month, AssociationsNow.com’s Ernie Smith reported on a recent study that showed that CEOs with more diverse social networks tend to be more successful. For instance, they “tended to have more access to foreign investment opportunities and often more access to new, innovative ideas.” If a CEO wants to have a hand on all of those levers, as Frangos suggests, they’d do well to better understand what kind of levers are out there, and who can best teach a leader to use them.
CEOs might bemoan the kind of support system they have, but ultimately the responsibility is theirs to develop it. As Frangos says, leadership is now “more about collaboration and innovation and not as much command and control…. Organizations are definitely creating more dynamic organizational structures, with different ways of leading their teams. Many have virtual teams and dotted-line reporting structures.”
The adaptation process, then, will require getting comfortable with not just the amount of input you receive as a leader, but with making sure you develop the capacity to solicit it. In terms of day-to-day leadership, today’s CEO needs to be more of a fox. But it would also help to be a bit like a hedgehog in terms of developing that one big thing—knowing how to communicate well with the people who can teach you what you need to know.
What do you do as a leader to get up to speed on trends in your business, and to encourage feedback from your support staff and stakeholders about them? Share your experiences in the comments.
Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel.
To create highly engaged customers, companies have to provide their customers with a consistent experience whenever and wherever they need it—digitally. Did you know that highly engaged customers buy 90 percent more frequently, spend 60 percent more per purchase, and have three times the annual value (compared to the average customer). That’s a huge revenue opportunity you could be taking advantage of by digitally transforming your business.
But, in order to deliver on a better customer experience, you first need to understand who this new kind of digital customer is and what they want. It’s clear that the customer is firmly in the driver’s seat.
Personalized customer experiences
Today’s consumer wants organizations to treat them as unique individuals, and know their personal preferences and purchase history.
Recommends products based on their past purchases.
This sounds like Amazon, one of the best retailers in the world, and the best part is that customers are happy for Amazon to use their data. Technology has empowered customers to get what they want, whenever they want, and how they want it. Amazon is a master at providing this service to every single customer.
Consumers now expect an immediate response to customer service requests on social media and they would rather engage digitally than pick up the phone. They also expect the same response times on weekends as on weekdays. This need for instant gratification has forced organizations to remain accessible on demand, 24/7, with live people, not interactive voice response, and to answer in one to two rings. Customers expect responses to be tailored to their needs and issues. They do not want to re-explain the issue.
Everything is now happening in real time, which is why those companies that can offer speed, personalization and accessibility to their customers will win out in the long run.
Today’s consumers are not loyal to a single mode. They browse in-store, shop online, share feedback through mobile apps and ask questions for your support team on social media networks.
In today’s fast-moving, always connected and always on society, companies are forced to seriously consider implementing a digital transformation strategy, if they haven’t already.
Digital transformation offers organizations an opportunity to engage modern buyers and deliver on their expectations of a seamless customer experience regardless of channel or place. Here are three ways to get started.
Customers expect immediate response. How fast do you get your product to a customer? How quickly can you accomplish a service task for a client? A three-day turnaround on an email or a long list of menu options on an automated phone system drives customers crazy.
Be your customers’ best resource.
Customers will figure it out—with or without you. It’s always better that they figure it out with you. Cutting-edge technology devised by Apple and Google has led consumers to expect a digital service experience that is clean, simple and user-friendly. There are no second chances to make a first impression in today’s world. If you want to know how to do something yourself, just look it up on YouTube and nine times out of 10, it’s there with instructions. So much easier than reading manufacturer’s instructions.
Make your website customer-service-friendly.
Whatever you think about your website, it’s one of the main channels your customers will use to figure out how to solve a problem they have. Do you see your website as a sales tool? Do you see it as an interactive version of your brand? Maybe you feel as though it’s just one of those things that you have to have. I promise you that your customers will search your site for information, even if it’s only to find a phone number to call you.
What are you waiting for? The digital disruption has revealed fantastic opportunities for higher levels of customer engagement. The time is now for customer service teams to take advantage of this and step up to the plate. Think like your customer and give them what they are looking for.
John Tschohl is an international service strategist and speaker. He is founder and president of the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Described by Time and Entrepreneur magazines as a customer service guru, he has written several books on customer service including Moving Up. The Service Quality Institute has developed more than 26 customer service training programs that have been distributed and presented throughout the world. Tschohl’s monthly strategic newsletter is available online.
Communication teams have a significant role to manage change in rapidly changing and complex environments by facilitating “agile listening.” Agile listening is the ability to connect leaders, change collaborators and initiators, and employees or change recipients to ensure change implementation is based on real experience. The communication function has a role in creating the connection, providing tools and processes to capture and share these perspectives, adding value by interpreting and distilling insight and being a “listening advocate” across the organization.
Change is changing, rapidly
Talk to anyone involved in driving change across an organization and you’ll no doubt hear about the importance of leadership buy-in and sponsorship, articulated business benefits identified up front, a training plan, and integrated communication plan—all written and submitted before the change process has even begun.
But the nature of change itself is changing. And so is the way employees respond to change. People are working differently. Organizations are expected to be more agile and responsive.
So how do you drive change in this new agile world? Especially when the kinds of changes many companies are looking to drive are not black and white? Although there is a growing range of tools and methodologies in the contemporary change communication toolkit, there remains no “one size fits all” mandate or policy to tell people what they must do. Change is both essential and discretionary at the same time.
Whether it’s adopting digital tools to reduce paper, embracing enterprise social, or adopting new ways of working, change is no longer linear and neat. Neither are the methods we use to foster and enact change.
This “discretionary” change is often at the heart of transformation. Shifting employee—and leadership—behaviors that underpin adoption, or create incremental benefits is where change programs create genuine value. It’s also where much of the risk of change lies.
Design theory shows that creating opportunities for people to sample the “future state” in a way that is meaningful to them generates deeper engagement than traditional forms of communication. This can be through role-playing, prototyping, walk-throughs, product testing, simulations, or even through technologies such as virtual or augmented reality. This kind of prototyping does carry costs for change programs, leaders and communicators.
Creating experiences that demonstrate the future state inverts the traditional adoption curve— people’s attitudes and knowledge are shaped by their actions and immersion in new tools, processes or environments.
Is executive sponsorship really the key?
Naturally, your executive team can’t be opposed to change, but do they really need to sponsor it as we once thought? Isn’t it more important that the people who are most impacted and stand to benefit the most sponsor and drive the change? Imagine if your employees felt as if they were part of driving change—not passively waiting for change to be foisted upon them, but actively influencing, shaping and driving the change they want, because they understood what it meant for them, because they saw the potential benefit.
Great sponsorship means establishing context
Change sponsorship in this environment becomes independent of the change itself. It becomes about providing sufficient context for the range of change occurring within an organization, creating clear signs of the type of change that is important, and getting out of the way.
The model is simple really. It’s all about listening. Listen to the people at the end point of delivering strategy, or delivering customer experience. Seek to understand their pain points, their needs. Work collaboratively with them to design solutions that actually meet their needs. Then involve them in driving the change forward. Tell their stories, and use them to influence others.
Take the same approach with leaders. Listen to their challenges, their needs. Make it easy for them to support the change and to demonstrate this through their own behavior. Defining and creating the leader’s version of the future state can bring their sponsorship to life. Help them own the change and shape what it means for their teams.
This means adopting some new change principles.
There’s no “one size fits all.”
Support needs to be customized and just-in-time.
The type of support provided needs to evolve as your stakeholders needs do.
Rules and mandates rarely work in the long run.
Embrace common sense and leverage your company’s values to influence behavior.
Empower your people to help shape how the change impacts them.
Your target audience needs to be the one that stands to benefit or lose the most from a specific change.
Leaders play a key supporting role as always but change is driven by the operational roles—the doers, not the leaders.
Letting go of “what implementation should look like”
This type of deep transformation requires a shift in thinking. Linear implementation models do not apply. We live in the time of iterations. You need to be fluid, agile and responsive. You can’t plan change before it begins. You need to evolve your strategy as the change plays out. No two changes will ever play out the same. Different people, different companies or even just different points in time all play a role. Creating the right environment for this to happen while already being in a state of change is a challenge for organizations.
You can’t work toward some preconceived business benefit promised in some long ago business case. Sometimes you don’t know what the real benefit will be until it’s here. Change never happens in a straight line. If you are too structured, too linear, too pre-planned, you might just miss the biggest value of all. Your tactics needs to be tailored, just in time, in response to what people need.
You can’t predict exactly what your people will need when. You need to work this out as you go, and organizational listening becomes central to this process.
Start conversations, let people role-play scenarios, listen, listen and respond then listen again.
Creating a communication environment that supports listening through change
There are five elements to creating a communication environment that fosters listening through transformation.
Connect your community.
Ensure people can connect. This includes having formal and informal opportunities and platforms to enable those affected by change, those designing change and those sponsoring change to spend time with each other.
Set your rhythm.
Different industries work at different speeds. Work with the operating cycles of the organization—or disrupt them—to create the opportunities for connection. Find a rhythm that works.
Share context through narrative.
While not every change needs hands-on executive support, leaders can work toward providing ongoing context for all change through a consistent narrative that presents the forces driving change in a way that makes sense to employees.
Easy access to content allows people to satisfy their need to understand and absorb the details. Whether it is through digital tools and repositories, effective intranets, collaborative platforms, having an “open source” approach to the detail—as much as is commercially possible—also empowers people to keep themselves informed.
Create and enable experiences.
Testing and learning are the heart of establishing agility in your organization. What is the complete experience for people involved? What are the other things happening at the same time? How can people test and learn, experimenting with the change in ways that will improve the result?
Listen and respond.
It’s time we shift from the idea that people are always resistant to change. We’d still be living in caves if that were the case. People love some kinds of change, but changing invokes some predictable responses. Ensure the communication environment allows for people’s emotional reactions—in the moment—and their subsequent response.Think of social media: The emoji is the reaction, the comments are the response.
Silence during change is a bad thing. Ongoing dialogue—between everyone involved—is how people put the pieces together. Finding ways to listen deeply to all three groups during the change process provides the opportunity for change to match the reality.
Key points for communication leaders
Organizational agility means re-examining traditional models of change communication and recognizing their limitations, including a shift from top-down sponsorship to unlocking the experience of people facing the change.
Creating prototypes and experiences that bring the change to life and listening deeply to the responses to this on an ongoing basis is essential to creating deep change outcomes.
Communication functions have a key role in facilitating this listening environment.
Jonathan helps organisations communicate meaningfully. He is the founder of Meaning Business and creator of the Shorter COMMS Plan. He has two decades experience delivering change communication, leadership and engagement across corporate, community and NFP sectors. He tweets about #comms as @meaningbusiness.
Town halls are one of the most powerful platforms when an organization is looking to create an open company culture. These interactive sessions create more transparency and allow executives to engage directly with the workforce. The open atmosphere of all-hands-style broadcasts is a unique opportunity for the C-suite to connect with employees and stakeholders in a way that cements trust and respect in the leadership team.
By their nature, executives tend to be natural leaders with excellent speaking skills and the ability to inspire. However, even the most gifted leaders can benefit from tips on preparing the most fulfilling town hall event possible. While most CEOs are comfortable speaking to a room full of employees, town halls can extend the message beyond the seated audience. Many town hall meetings are now recorded via a live stream where employees, regardless of geographic location, can watch their executives address the company live through their laptop or mobile device.
Video is the de-facto communication tool in the world of interspersed workforces. According to an industry report, 44 percent of executives somewhat or strongly agree that video will be the primary form of communication in their organization in the next five years. In addition, 87 percent of executives believe video has a significant and positive impact on an organization by creating a culture of transparency.
For these reasons, pulling off a flawless town hall broadcast that conveys a powerful message, provides opportunities for audience interaction and leaves employees feeling more engaged should be top of mind for any executive preparing for their next town hall.
When planning your next company town hall, here are a few things to consider when preparing your executives.
Collaborate on content
Executives have a responsibility to keep employees informed of any major business development or risk failing to properly control the message. Whether announcing a merger, or preparing for a quarterly executive update, refining the content that will be covered in a town hall broadcast makes the difference between a well-executed event, and one that’s less than stellar.
Make sure your executive caps her presentation at 90 minutes. Anything longer shows a lack of content refinement, and jeopardizes the attention span of the audience. Whether your CEO is delivering good or bad news, tailoring the message to be concise, action-oriented and inclusive is paramount.
Getting the logistics right
A good corporate communication teams will plan their company’s town hall meeting down to the smallest detail. To make the event run smoothly, give your team a comfortable six-week timeline, at minimum, to select the proper venue, secure multiple presenters, and inform stakeholders of the event and what it will cover well ahead of the date.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
Never underestimate the value of preparing to delivery an important message. Not only should the executive rehearse, he or she should do so in front of the camera—with cameras rolling. This gives everyone a chance to prepare and allows the corporate communication team to troubleshoot any potential issues.
Make events interactive
Live streaming platforms have rapidly evolved in the last few years. Custom-branded viewer templates, survey options, polls, and built-in audience analytics are just some of the options now available for your next event. There are also numerous interactive features such as live audience response polls, surveys and real-time Q&A. Take the time to educate yourself on all the functionality your platform offers.
Ditch the script, but not the outline. Scripts tend to feel “canned.” Audiences crave conversation, not a prepared speech. That said, the executive still needs to cover specific, key points on the state of the company. An outline with talking points can help ensure that each topic is addressed in a more conversational manner. Pay attention to pacing, and encourage your executive to use a natural and honest voice.
Archive your recording
All corporate town halls should be recorded and made viewable by employees unable to attend the live event. Having these archives available in a virtual library increases access to the content, as any employee unable to watch live can view later on-demand. Archiving resources also benefits new employees, or anyone who may have had difficulty understanding a live broadcast.
The future of town hall broadcasts, and what they represent to an organization, has never been stronger and more meaningful. Executive communication will no longer require employees to simply listen. Town hall events will require conversation and collaboration among all employees, regardless of their location. Thanks to interactive functionality, executives can gain immediate insight into how their employees feel about the state of their company.
Investing in practices to ensure a smooth town hall will guarantee your company’s next broadcast is well-received and runs without a hitch.
Barry Canty is vice president of marketing at MediaPlatform. He has overseen marketing strategy, lead generation, content marketing, email marketing, analyst relations, social media and PR for the company since 2012. Prior to joining MediaPlatform, Canty worked as a marketing consultant in the luxury and lifestyle industry for New York-based Syndicate Media Group. Barry holds a bachelor of science in business administration from the Wayne Calloway School of Business and Accountancy at Wake Forest University.
Here’s a number that should concern us all: only 30 percent of employees are engaged in their work. That’s seven of every 10 employees who are not actively trying to make your business successful.
Data and research has proven that ownership creates engagement, and engagement is what moves the needle in innovation, profits and overall retention.
That means when it comes to our businesses, we need to prioritize taking care of our employees and improving our leadership abilities.
Ask yourself these questions
Are the teams aligned or is there tension? If you even so much as suspect that there is anything but alignment, you want to get a team coach in immediately.
Is what I want clearly communicated? In the absence of clear information, people fill in the blanks on their own—and they may not take the steps you want them to.
How motivated is my team? Cost savings and money in your pocket is always a factor, but a motivated and happy employee is the ticket to profits.
Causes of lack of employee engagement
Now let’s understand some of the common issues resulting to the lack of employee engagement that needs fixing. Here are a few scenarios you might find helpful in recognizing what types of things can cause employee engagement to drop, and what you can do about it.
Partners, leadership teams or founders are not on the same page
If “business parents” fight, the culture becomes toxic from the top down. And don’t for one moment believe that your employees don’t know what goes on. Your body language and those pointed comments or emails tell the story. If the top leadership is unclear and out of sync, no one else can be congruent either.
Your first call to action is always to get leadership aligned. Work it out, or hire someone who can bring you back on the same page. When I work with partners or team leaders, I find that they easily slip into managing each other instead of managing the business. This can be fixed.
Efforts to include everyone can often amount to sharing any and every piece of information, especially on projects, by clicking the dreaded “reply all” or “message to everyone.” This can create an unnecessary work load and it is not what I am talking about.
What I mean here is sharing the relevant information with the people who need it. In in a team or on a project, everyone needs to buy in to your vision. For example, if you exclude your administrative people at the start, you’ll spend more time explaining what needs to be done because the tasks they are given are out of context. People need context, so give it to them and encourage them to think independently. It’s OK if you ask team members at which level of development they want to be included. When it is their choice, it helps creates ownership and adds to the dialog needed to keep people thinking and engaging.
Great ideas come from unexpected places
I vividly remember a speaker who shared an example of a candy maker who bought an expensive machine. But, to change that machine to produce a different type of candy took four hours to recalibrate and set it up, causing a huge loss in productivity and output.
So, the owner got his engineering team front row tickets to a Formula One race. They were so close to the pit that they could see how a team changes tires and fuels a car in 30 seconds. Guess what happened next? The team went back to the drawing board and was able to reduce the time to change the machine to around 40 minutes.
An outside perspective or an idea can come from anyone on your team, so include them and expose them to outside stimuli.
Results tell the story
Often, business owners insist that everything is working wonderfully, even when the numbers tell a different story or the results are not what they could be. Only when we give the opportunity for everyone to safely express opinions will we have an environment that encourages contribution.
The most significant amount of an employee’s life is spent at our organizations. That is a big responsibility. The way we treat them and appreciate them trickles down to how they feel about themselves and how they perform their work. It also affects their ability to be innovative or find creative solutions. So, treat employees well, give them what they need, listen to their input, and then enjoy the rewards of a thriving business.
Beate Chelette is the founder and CEO of The Women’s Code and a results-oriented woman leader with an entrepreneurial spirit and a proven track record in creating, launching and growing companies and brands. The Huffington Post called her “One of the 50 Must-Follow Women Entrepreneurs In 2017.” Focused on supporting and training organizations that promote women, she is the creator of The Women’s Code, her signature system that educates leaders and helps companies devise strategies for balanced leadership. The Women’s Code creates and implements programs that improve organizational culture, foster productive work environments and help companies like Merck and the Association for Corporate Growth to improve their bottom line.
The worst presenter I ever saw did everything wrong, from not understanding his audience, to lecturing instead of engaging us, to turning the session into one long sales pitch.
Worst of all, his talk was nothing but data—endless columns of it, packed onto dense, ugly slides. There was no narrative holding his points together and, in fact, no stories of any kind.
Stories are the centerpiece of any successful presentation. You should begin with story, end with story, and have stories in the middle.
Here’s how to effectively weave stories into presentations. But first, let’s review why storytelling is so important to presenting.
Multiple studies confirm that storytelling is the most powerful form of communication at our disposal:
Researcher Paul Zak found that stories cause the brain to produce oxytocin, a chemical related to feelings of empathy and a desire to cooperate. Stories essentially soften up an audience, making them more amenable to you and your ideas.
In a popular TED Talk, storyteller Nancy Duarte describes the many ways stories sweep us up and carry us away, not just intellectually and emotionally, but physically. Listening to a story is an experience, not just a passive exercise.
In the seminal book on persuasion Made to Stick, the authors did a study showing that after a presentation, 63% of audience members remembered the stories they heard, while just 5% could recall the statistics presented.
The bottom line: Stories captivate us and stay with us in a way that ordinary information just doesn’t.
1. Start your presentation with a story
Far too many presenters squander that all-important first minute of their presentation. This is your chance to grab the audience’s attention and make them want to know more.
Here are common ways speakers kick off their presentations, and why they don’t work:
Delivering a long list of thank-yous. It’s boring when we see Oscar winners do it, and it’s boring when everyday speakers do it.
Walking us through your credentials. Sorry, but a presentation is not about you, it’s about your audience and their needs.
Outlining the agenda—the old “tell them what you’re going to tell them” approach. Nobody cares about what you have to say until you give them a reason to care.
How do you make them care? By telling a compelling story that brings to life a problem they should be concerned about. So think carefully about your audience’s needs, desires and fears, and tell a story that will resonate with them. Here’s quick primer on crafting an effective story.
2. Be disciplined about it
Some of my clients are uncomfortable starting with a story right out of the gate. They feel they need to welcome the group, acknowledge VIPs in the audience, set expectations, etc.
But that just dilutes the power of your story. So save all that housekeeping business for later and jump right into your story.
It’s far more compelling when your first words are, “I never thought it would happen to me…” or “It was the scariest moment of my life…”
Presentation expert and Hall of Fame speaker Patricia Fripp offers 27 ways to open your speech with a bang. They make great story starters.
(Also, resist the urge to tee things up by saying, “Let me share a story…” or “I’m going to tell you a story about…” Just jump right in!)
3. Make it a personal story
Though it’s tempting to use stories about major figures like Winston Churchill or Steve Jobs, audiences have heard those stories thousands of time.
It’s much better to use stories that you yourself have actually experienced. In addition to being original, a personal story means you’re going to be more connected to it, making it far more likely that your audience will connect with you.
4. Be sure it’s on point
Don’t tell stories purely for entertainment’s sake. You’re not there to entertain; you’re there to inform and persuade—to change people’s minds and get them to take action.
So make sure your story is on message. If your talk is about teamwork, make your opening story about teamwork. Don’t waste an opportunity to reinforce your main point.
5. Include stories in the middle (but not too many!)
To sustain attention, you should weave stories throughout your presentation.
How many stories should you use? There is no magic formula. Much of it depends on the length of your speech and the length of your stories.
Let’s say you have five parts to your presentation: intro, conclusion and three sections in the main body. That might call for five stories. Might. It all depends. Five two-minute stories in a 15-minute talk is probably too many.
Which brings up the issue of story overload. I had a client whose presentation was almost entirely stories. After a while it felt like his stories were a cover for a lack of substance. I kept thinking, “Where’s the beef?”
So be sure your stories are accompanied by evidence, data, examples and your own assertions.
6. Return to story
Just as you should open with a story, you should close with a story. In fact, one of the most effective techniques is to return to an earlier story by adding a postscript, revealing a surprising twist or telling it from another character’s point of view.
It’s like the callback that standup comics use. The ring of the familiar triggers an “aha” moment and brings the audience full circle on the journey they’ve taken together.
For instance, in the story I told about the worst presentation I ever saw, what if I told you that speaker was a professional marketer? Someone whose whole business is premised on reading an audience and delivering on their needs with stories that sell?
On that day, he utterly failed. Which is an important lesson for all of us. As professional communicators, we have an obligation to put into practice the principles we teach every day—and that includes storytelling.
Rob Biesenbach is a corporate communication pro, actor and author. He’s written hundreds of speeches for CEOs and other executives and is a professional speaker himself. He’s a former VP at Ogilvy PR and press secretary to a state attorney general. A Second City-trained actor and improviser, Rob has appeared in nearly 200 stage and commercial productions. He brings these two worlds together in his workshops and books, including his latest, 11 Deadly Presentation Sins.