Richardson's Got Talent
Who knew that a mild-mannered corporate attorney was lead guitarist in a weekend rock band? Timed with the City of Richardson's annual Wildflower! Festival, our campus talent show was the kickoff in the new Leadership Council's approach to engaging employees and improving morale.
We also instituted a Speaker Series of company executives, customers, and distinguished academics to provide multiple views of the market.
Despite continuing tough times, employee satisfaction scores at our site increased nearly 70% in one year.
Richardson Leadership Council
Through multiple massive layoffs, morale had dropped dramatically and Nortel employees in Richardson TX had lost their sense of community.
A group of concerned employees sought to change the spirit on campus through a Leadership Council that would drive a cadence of employee engagement events during the year. I chaired the group which drafted the charter and plan, pitched it to senior executives, and led the Richardson Leadership Council (RLC) in its first year.
Our objectives included involving more employees in campus event planning and participation, improving employee satisfaction (ESAT), presenting a professional environment for customer visitors, reversing the community perception of Nortel as a corporate citizen, and helping develop the next generation of local leaders.
All campus groups were represented on the RLC -- major business units and functions, site support groups, and diversity councils: Asian Business Council, Black Business Council, Women's Business Council ...
We developed a calendar of quarterly employee fun events (all tied to charitable causes to add a community benefit), starting with an Idol-style "Richardson's Got Talent" showcase of musical and other non-business skills.
We also created a Speaker Series to expose employees to a variety of internal and external "voices":
- Nortel Richardson Leadership Forum (including the CEO and other members of his "cabinet," leveraging their travel through Dallas)
- Distinguished Speakers (MIT's Dr. Andy Lippman, Dr. Michael Oliff of UTD ...)
- Voice of the Customer (Verizon Wireless and other executives willing to share their vision of the market)
- Diversity Business Council speakers (for example, Sheriff Lupe Valdez, guest of the Latino Business Council during Hispanic Heritage Month)
The early RLC results included a doubling of volunteer participation in campus events ... and a nearly 70% improvement in Richardson ESAT scores over the previous year.
Multi-Dimensional Employee Communications
Some of the techniques I've used to create organizational dialogue:
"Virtual Focus Group"
A carefully developed list of employees who know me personally, trust my confidentiality, and therefore feel the freedom to tell me their candid opinions about employee concerns. This enables me to keep executives apprised without fear of repercussion to the opinionated employees.
"All-Hands" in-person and online town halls.
Company-wide (including CEO events), business unit, and campus events -- typically soon after quarterly financial announcements or other significant news. Presentation development and executive coaching (including anticipated questions and recommended responses), attendance-building announcements to employees, event multimedia and other logistics management (on occasion, special security), and employee feedback follow-up with leaders.
Community/ Cause communications support
Habitat for Humanity, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, March of Dimes, Junior Achievement, school supplies drive, food bank, Salvation Army Angel Tree, United Way, hurricane relief, and many others. Since company funds were tight, our efforts were focused on participatory events.
Intranet, E-Newsletters, Webalert/ Email blasts ...
The internal component to the new corporate branding transformed Reltec into Marconi over a holiday weekend.
A merger and new name causes considerable internal change. At Reltec, where the majority of employees were long-timers, half of some people's wardrobes were Reltec brand shirts.
So when the time came to adopt the Marconi Communications name, we gave everyone new Marconi shirts on "M-Day" ... and mugs, mousepads, notepads, and a special edition of the "In The Loop" newsletter. When employees left on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, the signs still read Reltec; when they returned on Tuesday, everything had changed to Marconi.
The intranet site featured new templates for PowerPoint presentations, fax cover sheets, stationery and business cards, and how to answer the phone.
We gave employees a preview of our plans for rolling out the Marconi branding at Supercomm (see "The New Face of Communication" in the Traffic-Magnet Trade Shows section --
To cap off M-Day, the sites each held an employee picnic. In Texas, that was a barbeque, of course.
We also encouraged employees to bring in their old Reltec shirts, which were donated to the local Goodwill stores.