Archive for August, 2007

Importance of good Internal Communications

Posted on August 30, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

An organisation is made up of people, the success or failure of the organisation is highly dependent on the employees that make up the culture and productivity.

Often neglected vis-a-vis operational issues, internal communications are essential to maintain the level of happiness in the organisation.

A theory, once taught to me in junior college comes to mind.It helps tailor the internal communications efforts later

First of which is the Herzberg two-factor theory. Understanding the implications will allow the tailoring of communication efforts to respond and manage the perceptions that arise from the theory.

Fredrick Herzberg argues that two distinct set of factors affect the employees motivation. Hygiene are factors that prevent employees from beingdissatisfied. They do not necessary lead to motivation, but will prevent employees from being unhappy.

The other factor is known as Motivators. When present, they motivate the employees to do better, increase their productivity. Many of the individual factors in Motivators are internally driven.

Typical Hygiene Factors include
– Working conditions (Environment, proper desk etc)
– Quality of Supervision
– Payroll
– Job specification & scope
– Job security
– Company reputation
– Company policies and administration
– Interpersonal relations at the workplace (i.e. culture)

Typical Motivators are
– Job satisfaction by individual – Acheivements
– Recognition by senior management
– Sufficient authority and responsibility for job
– Interest in job
– Job advancement/promotional opportunities
– Payroll
– Personal growth

Based on this theory, four potential scenerios can happen:

herzberg.jpg

Analysing the conseqences of the grid, it is not difficult to understand that Motivators are generally generated by perceptions of the individuals, and hence through appropriate management, it can be pushed up to the high quardrant.

Part of Hygiene factors are also perception oriented, and communications can be engaged to shift it as much as possible to the high quardrant as well.

To begin with, senior management needs to establish trust and credibility. Sounds awfully familiar for PR folks. The principles of communicatiosn are similar here, treat the employees with respect and establish an open platform for two-way communications.

Management should take some time to explain the rationale behind their decisions, a step often skipped as managment only announces the final results. For commercially sensitive information, management should express as much explaination as possible. Abeit the risk of an information leak, if trust is established, the employees will most likely reciprocate.

Culture should also not be taken lightly. In my previous articles, I argued that culture is always taken for granted as many believe that it is up to the individual. However, culture is also perception. Managing perception is still PR. PR still requires strategy and active mangement.

Hence, public relations is not just about external relations. PR is about strategy… the strategy of managing credibility.

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Zealously guarding the proposition that defines us

Posted on August 27, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Over the weekend, I was part of a discussion with my colleagues about the proposition that defined the company that I worked for – Culture.

One of the world’s leading public relations consultancy, the firm is constantly competing for talents and clients with the other global agencies.

One of the definitive propositions that we have been selling all these while is ‘culture’.

It is not uncommon to hear a person from our firm telling our clients or prospectives that the firm had an excellent culture that breeds creativity through close inter-team coorporation, bonding and multi-racial/ethnic consultants. The environment, free from politics, allowed individuals to ‘raise the bar’ as and when it was required, thus bring the firm constantly to new levels of service standards.

Yet, I found that many in the company have already taken this aspect for granted.

I argued that if culture was the ‘make or break’ point for the firm, then it should be zealously guarded to ensure that the culture extends, even when staff leaves the firm and new members join the firm. This, I found, was terribly lacking.

I suppose this phenomenon is not localised to any particular firm. Many companies probably assume that culture evolves along with the people it hires and the staff it employs.

I feel, however, that senior management have a very big role to play to ensure that the organisation maintains a particular culture that it wishes to have, particularly if it’s to be treated as a winning proposition.

Several ways I think top management can play a part:

Walk the talk – Culture is not built by paying lip-service to it. If senior management believes in an ‘open door’ policy and reduce the power distance between staff and management, then effort has to be put in to go down to the grounds to rally the staff and encourage a two-way communications process. If management doesn’t support ‘politics’, then the senior management staff must refrain from participating in one.

Open communications build trust – Trust is ever so important in any particular oragnisation. Managment must communicate openly with the staff in order to win their trusts. Abeit the additional workload and much time spent, it is important for management to constantly share the vision, goal for the firm. Intentions and rationale behind actions must be communicated.

Set clear principles and stamp violations – Whilst people always say that a particular company has got ‘good culture’, the definition of ‘good culture’ is subjective. Management needs to find time and spend effort to investigate and find the definition to ‘good culture’. Then set principles for all to follow. Principles must be meaningful and not words that are stringed together for the sake of doing it. Principles must be reviewed from time to time to ensure that it remains relevant. Any violations to these principles should be treated seriously and carefully.

Thinkstrategically and holistically, not just about operations – Senior management is often caught up on the day-to-day operations that they fail to ‘take a step back’ to look at the firm strategically. This is especially so, when a firm is growing quickly and furiously. Where new staff enters andleavethe firm, the dynamics of the firm changes. It affects people, and it is important to repeat, from time to time, the strategic direction that the firm is heading. Management needs to dig deep into any potential problems or if there is any suspicion of a problem arising. Investigate deeply and thoroughly to find the root problem and treat it there and then.

Senior management should not be the only people who maintains the culture of the firm, and individual members of the organisation has got a role to play.A bottom up approach can be the basis of how a culture is formed, but a top-down approach is needed to maintain the culture at where it is being set.

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Shortchanging Ourselves

Posted on August 21, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The debate for the top attributes that make a good employer goes on and on. Fortune magazine ranked the top 100 employers to work for http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2007/full_list/based on several key concepts

– Culture
– Job growth
– Payroll
– Bonus
– Size
– Best benefits
– Training & Development

I absolutely agree with that.

Lets talk about the PR consultancy space. It is a competitive market, with a shortage of real talents for the job.

Some people claim that a PR professional is a generalist, whilst others think that PR is a profession. I belong to the latter.

As the consultancies race to retain the best talents, they compete on different things. One of the things that I constantly hear about, is culture.

Less politics, a nurturing environment, free for creativity, good employee interactions. Excellent choice, one may say, but not the best pay masters.

On the other extreme, you have some consultancies that pay well, but has an environment filled with politics where every employee is dying to stab the other to climb up the corporate ladder.

‘Terrible’ one says, but yet the pay is attractive.

Why not merge both of these attributes?

Even with the better pay masters,employerstend to hire ‘new’ talents into the firm at higher rates, often neglecting the existing employees who are working hard to attain better living standards.

It’s an open secret that a PR professional in a consultancy can jump from consultancy to consultancy from time to time withan almost 30-40% pay jump! This is absolutely a taboo figure to even talk about in their existing consultancies.

For the executives lower down the chain, these jumps seem very attractive. But from an employers perspective, what is the absolute cost of such an increment? It is probably less than a thousand dollars.

It issn’t a lot of money! So issn’t it better to spend a little more and retain the talent than to scrimp a little and lose the talent?

Why should an employee jump from consultancy to consultancy just to acheive career / payroll progression? Why shouldn’t the existing company reward the employee to the best of the market?

Questions for all of us to ponder.

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More to come.

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Holmes Report – 250 largest global PR firms rankings 23 July 2007

Posted on August 6, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

1. Fleishman-Hillard

2. Weber Shandwick

3. Edelman

4. Burson-Marsteller

5. Hill & Knowlton

6. Ketchum

7. Ogilvy Public Relations

8. Porter Novelli

Some movements ups and downs, but all-in-all the same eight that reign the PR world.

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Staying true to your philosophy

Posted on August 3, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Since the boom of the industial era, organisations have been trying to define themselves. Senior management and staff develop corporate values, philosophies and cultural pillars in hope to differentiate themselves from every other organisation.

A noble idea, to personify the organisation; breathe life and meaning to form a character and to give it colour. Thus, besides naming the organisation, managementmolds thecharacter of the organisation just like a parent to a child.

Henceforth, organisation ‘X’ will like to do certain things, dislike and reject certain notions, have their temper shown when anactivity/incident violates the beliefs of ‘X’.

As with every organisation, there will come a time when management changes hands. Founding members shy away fromshuffing theirthoughts down the throats of successors, afraid of impeding the development of the organisation with ‘out-of-date’ ideologies.

Newly appointed managment also tend to pick up their roles with zest and implement change, hoping to outshine previous leaders. Thetheory is simple; in order to prove one’s capabilities, the person needs to raise the bar, make changes, develop something new.

The resulting consequences are obvious. The organisation gets thrown into a period of roughness, where it belches out the previous values and re-molds its character to fit the new management. Much likea person going through a break-up and facing the rush of different emotions reacting at the same go.It will eventually come toa point where there is a change in lifestyle. If the change is serious enough, the personshedshis previouscharacter and becomes a totally different body.

If the organisation is lucky, batches of management will share similar philosophies and ideals. The resulting changes will be minimal, and the character of the organisation is safeguarded. Otherwise, the organisations change from its original form and is forced to give up much of its hardearned pedigree to develop into something new.

The premise here of course, that the original philosophies and values are sound ones.

As life has it, things are never as rosy. As management embark to seek the best candidates for the job, there are many factors that come into play and philosophical congruence is often neglected.

When selecting a candidate, it’s usually on operational excellence, ability to adapt as a team, willingness to commit, etc. ‘Share the same vision’ is still a relatively new notion to many and the value of it remains relatively unknown.

Perhaps it’s left to destinyfor organisations change and molds itself constantly to become the perfect self. Perhaps its assumed that the new candidate will be expected to follow the same route as the precedents and keep the ‘ship steered in the same direction’.

Management must wake up to the notion that while words can describe the character of the organisation, it is the leaders who set the example. And argue as you may, culture is still more or less set top down..

To the senior management in organisations, live your corporate philosophies, guard it zealously. It is your differentiating factor from your competitors. It will be what makes or breaks you as a person, and as an organisation.

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Venture into Chapter X

Posted on August 2, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Whilst Xanga is a great place for me to share my ideas and life with the many friends that I have globally, (Germany / HK / Auzyland), it doesn’t have the look and feel for me to share some thoughts at a deeper level.

So, I am venturing into the new Chapter X, a simple blog at WordPress to share some of my ideas and thoughts on a more serious level.

I’m very new to this, please bear with me, I’ll get better over time.

Cheers

Kevyn

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