To Blog or Not to Blog?
By Barb Willis, Jeff Winton Associates Consultant
There’s no denying that employee engagement drives a company’s bottom line. It is important that everyone understands the mission and vision as well as the reasoning behind major decisions.
Leader blogging on the company intranet is one of many ways to keep colleagues informed. However, in my long communications career, I have often found it challenging to convince leaders that they should take time from their busy schedules to consistently post blogs on the intranet. Even when I have offered to ghost write the blogs, some have resisted committing to a series of messages where they talk to employees free of corporate-speak.
What follows are the benefits of blogging that I have used to successfully “sell” the idea to leadership.
Break down barriers. In major corporations, members of the C-Suite and department leaders can seem unapproachable. There may be few opportunities (if any) for employees to meet the people who make the big decisions. Surveys have shown this distance can impact morale and engagement.
Show humanity. Leaders have lives outside the company. When I have drafted blogs that include references to family or hobbies, the uptake has gone through the roof. It’s the same principle at play when fans read about a celebrity and start to relate to the star on a personal level. In the workplace, this connection can foster goodwill and trust.
Eliminate confusion. When new programs are introduced or there’s bad news coming, such as layoffs, blogs can tell the story in a way that employees can better understand. A blog lends itself to clear language and opens the door for questions. It also is an effective tool for explaining tough decisions with empathy. Leaders can also share how they have personally handled change in the past. I once suggested to a leader that he convey his own feelings of fear during a major turning point in his career and how he channeled that emotion. He subsequently received emails from employees that his heartfelt message gave them hope and encouragement.
Reinforce the mission. Even when there’s no news, blogs can be a conversational way to keep the company’s “reason for being” front and center. In addition, blogs can be creative. In one I wrote many years ago for an executive, we compared aiming for excellence to basketball. In another, we used the ingredients in a recipe to show how every person was essential to making a new program work.
Celebrate success. Every win for the company, including a rise in profits and new product launches, can only occur with extraordinary efforts from the employees. Blogging is one way to recognize and thank employees for the company’s milestone victories.
In short, leaders can inform, enlighten, show their personalities and gain trust when the communications plan includes a series of well-conceived intranet blogs. Additionally, it is important to “vary the voices,” with blogs from mid-level managers and employee peers mixed in with CEO and executive team blogs. In this way, employees can get to know the men and women who drive the company’s strategy and hear perspectives from fellow colleagues while learning about each area of the business. And that’s a win-win for both the employees and the leaders!
Barb Willis is a seasoned communicator who has provided strategic counsel and customized communications campaigns for several Fortune 100 companies, including Merck, Schering-Plough, UnitedHealthcare and Simon Property Group.