Posts Tagged ‘Employee’

Employee Communications: Do You Hear Me?

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
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“What are words for? When no one listens anymore.” The early 1980s song “Words” from Missing Persons aptly sums up today’s growing epidemic:  the lost art of listening. Listening is a powerful communication skill and it’s on the decline. From the dinner table to the conference room table, people are tuning out loved ones and coworkers. In our case, we’re talking about listening in the workplace.

Here are some of the prime workplace culprits:

  • The interrupter. This person likes to dominate conversations. They often display a lack of patience for others to finish sentences.
  • The hyper facilitator. This person feels pressure to keep meetings flowing. Armed with an agenda, they move quickly from topic to topic. They often try to take conversations “offline” as opposed to letting organic conversations flow. Organic conversations often lead to richer outcomes.
  • The screen zombie. This person is physically present but that’s about it. Their eyes never leave their smart phone or laptop screens. They might chime in from time to time, but their body language says they have more important things to do.

Employees want to be heard. They want to contribute and they want to be acknowledged. They want to feel like someone is listening to their questions or concerns and that they will do something about it. So what can leaders and their companies do to fine tune their listening skills? Here are a handful of ideas:

  • Minimize opportunities for interruptions. Ask people to put smart phones or laptops away (unless they are using them to take notes).
  • Hold meetings at another location if appropriate – outside or over coffee or lunch.
  • Carve out listening or Q&A sessions.
  • Cut down on email to be more present like one PR firm did. (See its blog about it.)
  • Arm managers with frequent buzz worthy questions to ask at their staff meetings. Here is a link to some great questions to ask your team.
  • Recap conversations before you end the meeting. For example:  “What I heard is …” followed up by, “Did I miss anything? Anything else you want to add?”
  • Email a recap of conversations to those in the meeting along with next steps. This particularly helps when people have had more time to think about the topic and might have more to add at a later time. It also shows you’re listening and that you plan to take action.


Media Training: Tips When Employees Screw Up

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Employee Communications: What About The New Hire Experience?



  1. Make someone available to talk with the media. Don’t hide behind “no comment” or lame, emailed statements.
  2. Apologize and share your disappointment in strong, genuine terms. Apologies won’t satisfy everyone, but they often stop problems before they snowball into something out-of-control.
  3. Explain how this happened. Otherwise, the rumor mill starts churning and speculation questions your whole business operation.
  4. Explain, if possible, the repurcussions for the employee. Saying something about the actions you took is better than nothing.
  5. If you took quick steps to prevent the problem from getting even worse, share that information.
  6. Explain what steps you’re taking to prevent this from happening again.
  7. Social media is where a crisis picks up steam. Use social media to share all this information. Be genuine. Don’t post statements that sound robotic and like B.S.
  8. Use your website’s newsroom to explain the situation. Your newsroom shouldn’t only be a “rah-rah” space. Stand up to the plate. Everyone has problems. Acknowledging them and handling them well ultimately determine public relations success.
  9. Explain all this to your own employees. That might squash the biggest rumor mill of all.

Employee Communications: Let Me Hear Your Body Talk

Sunday, December 8th, 2013


This is the second in a series of blog posts about common blunders leaders make that send a message of being unavailable to employees. See our previous post in this blog series on leader blunders.

Leader Blunder No. 2:  Displaying unavailable body language. Leaders are a lot like celebrities in that virtually their every move comes under some kind of scrutiny. It’s not uncommon for employees to look at leaders through a zoom lens, observing moods, tones, body language. If leaders tend to wear their stress levels on their sleeves, employees might take that as a cue that they should stay away.

A furrowed brow might say, “Don’t talk to me.” A faint “hi” or even lack of acknowledgement in the hallway might translate into, “I’m disappointed in your performance.” We’re not suggesting leaders shouldn’t be themselves or they should walk on eggshells. We’re suggesting that leaders think about how their nonverbal language might sometimes unintentionally send the wrong messages to employees.

What are the potential costs of “unavailable” body language? It could mean:

  • an idea left unshared
  • a question left unanswered
  • an issue left to fester

Do you have examples to share of “unavailable” body language?

Public Relations: 10 Ways To Prepare For A Protest

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Take It From A Reporter: Some PR Pros Are Stuck In 1960

I read in The New York Times about an upcoming one-day strike involving fast food employees wanting more money. If your business ever faces such a situation and you have a heads up, how do you prepare?

  1. Don’t always pass the buck and rely on a spokesperson from a trade association to talk on your behalf. This option is better than offering “no comment” but not significantly better. When I was a TV reporter, companies sometimes redirected me to a trade association. I considered that somewhat lame. If you can build a business, you can stand up for yourself. If you can pay a public relations firm, you can pay it to talk instead of simply not commenting and releasing a robotic statement.
  2. Identify someone who is comfortable talking to the media. Your CEO might excel at making money but struggle with social situations when people are not kissing his or her butt.
  3. If you plan to be brave enough to grant interviews, pick a location now. Do you consider your building a friendly location? Would you prefer to visit the media outlet itself? Is there a location that would strategically reinforce your key messages?
  4. If your business faces something such as a protest, realize the media will hear personal stories about why you suck. You better come to the table with personal stories of why you are successful. You must have people, clients or customers willing to sing your praises.
  5. Your critics will be plain spoken in explaining their concerns. Drop the lingo. Don’t act like a king who can’t speak like a regular person.
  6. Hopefully somebody went through media training. You’re about to get questions you never considered. You should know how to address the unexpected without looking like a fool or making matters worse.
  7. Don’t offer no comment. Why surrender the public debate? Why release a lame statement while your opponents tell emotional stories with passion? Sure, that’s the safe approach your attorney may relish, but what’s the longterm cost to your reputation and bottomline?
  8. I shook my head when major corporations claimed they had no one locally who could speak to me on camera. You know the story is coming. Are you really going to win the war by huddling over some speakerphone and talking to the media from a New York office? Have people trained in major cities and regions to handle the media. Hire a team of spokespeople you trust. Buy someone a plane ticket to the necessary city. If this is not practical, offer a web interview. What’s your excuse for not doing that? What, you don’t have a Skype account?
  9. Don’t act as if your fans don’t know your troubles or controversies. They know and would likely be your biggest defenders. So don’t forget about sharing your views on your website’s newsroom and across your social media channels. I love when companies are stuck in a brewing controversy and their Facebook posts only highlight their latest sales.
  10. What about communicating with your employees?  In fact, one of your first steps should be to communicate with them, whether they plan to protest or not. You might need to craft separate messages to various audiences. Do you have a social media policy? Are employees clear about using social media in times like this?

Employee Communications: No Reply At All

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

This is the first in a series of blog posts about common blunders leaders make that send a message of being unavailable to employees.

Blunder No. 1:  Not returning messages. Yes, we know you get tons of email messages and voicemails everyday, but it’s still not an excuse to let an employee’s email or voicemail go unanswered. It might seem like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, it’s reality. Many leaders talk about the importance of engagement but often overlook some of the basics like simply responding to messages. Not answering messages unintentionally sends a message that you are not available to your employees. Don’t have time to read an employee’s lengthy email or look into their request? Then a quick acknowledgement is fine. Just let your employees know you appreciate they took the time to contact you and let them know you will get back to them soon. Set a reminder to make sure you follow up and follow through.

With countless texts, emails, Tweets and posts vying for people’s attention, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and do nothing. We’ve seen an uptick in people not responding to messages on both the personal and work related fronts. And it continues to get worse. Not every message warrants a response, but we continually scratch our heads in bewilderment when some of our own emails or voicemails we send go unacknowledged.

Leaders:  Ask yourselves what message you are sending to employees when you do not acknowledge their emails or voicemails. What assumptions might they make if they do not hear back from you? What does it say about your company culture if this is the norm? How might this behavior impact engagement?

Stay tuned for more blunders …

The title of this blog was inspired by Genesis’ song “No Reply At All.”


Employee Communications: The Real Work World

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

By Loren Yaskin, The Flip Side Communications

Many companies fall short when it comes to giving prospective employees a taste of reality: what work life is like on the inside. Recruiting materials and websites often seem to try too hard to woo their prospects with hip images and the typical cheerful verbiage about challenging and rewarding opportunities in a dynamic work environment. Surprisingly, many companies still don’t even use the power of video to showcase employees and their stories about what it’s really like to work at their companies.

More time is often spent on the job description than the recruitment experience. In one of our earlier blog posts How Companies Can Better Sell Themselves When Hiring Employees, we shared our observations that some companies are almost looking for superheroes in their job descriptions, cramming in everything they can think of with jargon-filled descriptions fit for a robot. They lay out everything the candidate should do for the company but leave out what the company can do for candidates. These companies are missing a big opportunity to realistically sell themselves.

Touting the benefits and all of the positive work experiences is obviously a great thing, but what about showing a little more behind the curtain? Let’s hear from employees about what a typical day is. Let’s hear and see the realities of the job through their lenses – what it is and what it isn’t. There is a way for companies to do this while maintaining brand integrity. Perhaps if companies did this more often, they would find better employment matches and maybe even reduce turnover.

What examples do you have of companies that are doing it right? We like how Disneyland took a different approach in which a cast member chronicled a behind-the-scenes look at day in his life at work.

Employee Communications: When good workers dump you, avoid nasty break-ups

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Employee Communications:  When good workers dump you, avoid nasty break-ups


Since leaving college, I’ve thought it odd when bosses feel upset, betrayed or irritated when a good employee decides to take a job somewhere else. I hope if I were an employer, I would thank employees for their contributions and congratulate them on a new position they believe would improve their quality of life.

But I continue to hear stories of employees leaving on uncomfortable terms. I’m not referring to shouting matches. I’m speaking of snarky remarks and ungrateful comments that ensure boss and employee won’t be later sharing Facebook posts.

Employees share these stories. And when awkward goodbyes become a trend, an employer gets a reputation. Some bosses feel no matter how many disgruntled players leave, they’ll simply draft suitable replacements. But I believe one disgruntled good player after another can’t continue to leave without some sort of eventual impact on the bottom line.

Too often many companies seem to forget their employees are customers and brand enthusiasts. The way employers handle a farewell could mean they either keep or lose these key stakeholders.

Our recommendation is for employers to at least try to be the bigger person and be remembered as someone who sent a worker off with a great farewell. Send out a positive memo to the staff. For excellent employees, throw a party or farewell lunch. Don’t allow the disagreements at the end of someone’s stay stain another good relationship. Being nasty at the end could bring negative effects lasting a lot longer than the employee’s last walk out the door.