Picture the scene. It’s 8.15 am on a cold, wet Thursday. You’re working through an onslaught of emails when the corporate logo on a bulky envelope catches your attention. It contains a beautifully Desk Top Published document describing the ‘Key Management Principles’ for the world-wide corporation. The covering note explains that these principles, developed by the Chief Executive Officer, will “guarantee competitive advantage and the future success of our company.” You’ve been nominated as the ‘installation champion’ for the stated vision and values at the Irish operation.
A second scan of the document reveals a raft of obscure language: subsidiary empowerment, re-engineering, centres of excellence, strategic intent, paradigm shifts etc. You get a quick mental picture of trying to explain these concepts to Paddy Walsh in the Warehouse, trying to convince him of his role in global domination. Yes, it’s going to be one of those days.
Social Engineering: Fiction? Many professionals working in the multinational sector are given the task of ‘marketing the company mission’. If ‘internal marketing’ is a new skill to be mastered, here’s the skinny….
Internal Marketing Roadblocks: The 7 Deadly Sins
- What? Staff don’t understand the concepts.
- So What? Lack lustre commitment by the management team.
- Soft Sell: Poor initial commitment to the Mission.
- No Way! ‘Espoused values’ are out of line with day-to-day management behaviour.
- How? The organisation does not have the ‘tools’ to drive the process forward.
- Constant Focus: The concepts are not reinforced.
- How Much? Installation success is unmeasured.
The Blue Chip Approach: Intel have a sophisticated ‘Mission Installation’ programmes (which one cynic described as “methods to upload the software into employees”). Other companies leave the detailed installation as a ‘local call’. Whatever option is chosen (from fully prescribed to locally designed), it needs systematic internal marketing. Why? Within organisations, there’s a growing recognition that success is more often underpinned by strategic implementation rather than strategic thinking. In the words of Stephen Sondheim: “Everything depends on execution, having just a vision is no solution.” The internal marketing of a company’s mission requires the senior team to become actively involved in Social Engineering – ensuring that employees see the glass as ‘half-full’ and commit to the principles as volunteers rather than corporate conscripts. Where employees don’t understand the company mission and the specific ‘ask’ of them, the impact is often to simply generate cynicism.
Target audience: Your staff
The competition: Every other management pronouncement (communications clutter)
- Hold launch meetings/’Mission Building Awareness’ Workshops. Explain the underlying concepts – don’t just focus on the what but also the why.
- If language is specific to a particular country (e.g. USA), explain or ‘Irishise’ this. Acid test: “Can it be understood by employees holding the most junior positions?”
- Aid understanding by developing a ‘graphic’ of the mission statement – showing how the themes are interlinked. A picture paints a thousand words…
- Incorporate the ‘graphics’ in workbooks or folders.
- Print on internal notepaper/post-it notes/on the reverse side of business cards/screen savers. Issue to all staff.
- Run a children’s (or adults) art competition around the mission statement.
- Develop a set of internal cartoon characters who continually discuss this.
- Conduct a formal internal survey to test understanding of the concepts (e.g. a Questionnaire with agree/disagree type questions). If this reveals confusion – identify the most likely point of attack and resolve.
- Use video clips from commercially available movies (watch the copyright issues).
A mission statement that’s not supported by staff is like a car without an engine; on the outside it looks O.K., but it isn’t going anywhere.
People Don’t Resist Their Own Ideas: Sometimes resistance can be explained by the fact that the ‘implementers’ haven’t had a hand in shaping the concepts. If there was a Ladybird book simplifying the key principles in psychology the first one would read “People don’t resist their own ideas.” For subsidiaries of multi-nationals, the mission statement is almost always ‘imported’ and cannot be changed. However, if the what is preset, people can be involved in the how, ensuring it dovetails with the local environment. Doing provides real understanding. By demonstrating how this adds value, it’s often possible to silence the sceptics.
- Ask employees for suggestions as to how they can, through their day-to-day activities, implement the concepts (be specific, “Here’s what we need you to do”).
- Establish an internal challenge against a sister site. Tell employees that your goal is to install the mission ‘better than anyone in the corporation’. Track your progress on some form of visible scorecard to showcase success.
- Run ‘Mission Challenge’ sessions where people feel free to voice their opinions.
- Ensure that the organisation ‘Mission’ is a central part of induction training (and a subsidiary part of all development programmes) for staff.
- Nominate heroes/champions in each unit in a monthly/annual ‘Hall of Fame’.
It’s actions, not words: As in any change process, the strongest communications message will be delivered by ‘actions’. Senior executives behaving in line with the mission is a surer guarantee of success than the slickest internal marketing. Where a particular manager’s behaviour runs contrary to the stated values, you need to review how this can be changed. If it’s not possible to do this, the individual may have to be dragged around to the back of the factory and shot! Obviously a balance needs to be struck between allowing internal diversity and discussion Vs open rebellion against a core company tenet. When you ignore behaviour which is in ‘violation’, staff won’t believe that you’re serious (and, they are right).
Making It Happen
- Carry out an Audit of ‘Where we are now’? How well are the management team advancing the core concepts in the Mission? Put a new element in the performance appraisal process which measures ‘conformance to the mission’ or install 3600 degree feedback on this (there’s no escape from peer feedback).
- Develop a management game on the theme of the mission.
- Design a recruitment test that allows you to hire managers who ‘culturally fit’ with the organisation (most companies do this inadvertently; make it explicit).
- Link your reward structure to performance against the mission.
Living The Values: Perhaps you are more focused on the organisation values? Here’s a couple of ideas to chew over…
- Build in a section on ‘How well are we living the values?’ as part of climate surveys.
- Develop a Manager’s Manual on the Values, explaining the underlying rationale.
- Develop positive reinforcements – ‘contributor of the year’, trophies/prizes/ceremonies/articles in the company magazine. Continually highlight accomplishments, making the ‘extraordinary’ ordinary.
- Write up some simple case studies (1 page) under each of the key headings. Use an interesting format (e.g. a quick background sketch which then poses a central dilemma). Use as part of development programmes.
- Design an ‘Implementation Checklist’. Use formal market research techniques to measure what marketers call ‘share of mind’.
Summary: The ‘installation’ methods detailed above may seem like a form of corporate brainwashing. Yet, as managers, we are unquestionably in the business of maintaining a positive internal community. Internally marketing the company mission/values is one tool in getting your staff turbo-charged. If you decide to publish you company mission, you need to give it 100%. Half-hearted attempts to ‘re-programme’ a culture are destined to fail and, arguably, leave the organisation in a worse position than if it had never been attempted.
Hey, take this note as a first ‘written warning’!
Book Launch: On Thursday, 15th September – launching my new book: The Million Euro Decision – taking a deep dive into education disadvantage and putting forward a roadmap around how to resolve this. Come along on the night (18:00 in NCI in the IFSC) or purchase a copy directly from the publisher (The Liffey Press) or from any good book shop.
PS Lighter Note: Phone Answering Machine Message: “If you want to buy Marijuana, press the Hash key”.
From Larry McGivern on the subject of Colonoscopies…
Colonoscopies are no joke, but these comments made during actual examinations (predominately male) in the USA are funny.
- Take it easy Doc. You’re boldly going where no man has gone before.
- ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’
- ‘You know, in Arkansas, we’re now legally married.’
- ‘You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out…’
- Now I know how a Muppet feels!’
- ‘You used to be an executive at Enron, didn’t you?’
- ‘Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?’
From Kevin Griffen. My New Book!
You may not know it, but I have been very busy over the last couple of years putting my thoughts and ideas together into a book. I’m very proud of the results and, in order to market the publication, I am asking friends and family to assist.
The book is on golf. I believe it gives the reader valuable playing tips and insider information that I’ve gained through years of experience. The book is only €16.95 and can be ordered by simply replying to this email with the appropriate credit card info.
Check one: ___ VISA ___ Master Card ___ Discover __ American Express
Card # _________________Exp. Date _______________
Last chance to get the book at this price. .
Chapter 1 – How to Properly Line Up Your Fourth Putt
Chapter 2 – How to Hit a Maxfli from the Rough When You Hit a Titleist from the Tee
Chapter 3 – How to Avoid the Water When You Lie 8 in a Bunker (also see Chapter 8)
Chapter 4 – How to Get More Distance off the Shank
Chapter 5 – When to Give the Ranger the Finger
Chapter 6 – Using Your Shadow on the Greens to Maximize Earnings
Chapter 7 – When to Implement Handicap Management
Chapter 8 – Proper Excuses for Drinking Beer Before 9:00 a.m.
Chapter 9 – How to Find That Ball That Everyone Else Saw Go in the Water
Chapter 10 – How to Relax When You Are Hitting Three off the Tee
Chapter 11 – Suggesting Major Swing Corrections to Your Opponent
Chapter 12 – When to Re-grip Your Ball Retriever
Check our website http://www.tandemconsulting.ie or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.