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Workforce Management
 

Corporate transparency

By: Shel Holtz and John C. Havens

In this era of transparency and social media, no organization can hide its head in the sand and avoid implementing the tools that will help it create better dialogue with customers, partners and employees.

Use this guide to walk through the planning process. It has been crafted to work from the inside out to expose your brand to the new-media marketplace at large.

Take the time to answer the following questions to determine your level of corporate transparency.

Corporate Transparency Assessment
The first few choices for each question below reflect traditional methodologies that organizations use to deal with feedback from employees and customers. By and large, these are all one-sided conversations where management tells pepole what they think and the implied message is, “If we want your opinion, we’ll send you a survey.”

Answers to these questions reflect methodologies employed by more progressive organizations that use tactical corporate transparency to better position their brand in the marketplace.

Ask yourself the following questions about your organization as specifically as possible:

What communications tools does management have in place to communicate to employees? 

  • Company wide e-mail blasts (one-way communication)
  • Company newsletters (one-way communication)
  • Leadership pages on the intranet (one-way communication)
  • Town hall meetings
  • CEO or management blogs that allow for comments from others
  • CEO or management podcasts, videos, or interactive, real-time, rich media where employees can contribute their thoughts.

How can employees respond to those communications?

  • If they have concerns or questions, they e-mail their manager to resolve
  • They can submit an article for the company newsletter
  • They can submit a comment, questions, or suggestion using an intranet form
  • They can respond by commenting on CEO or management blogs
  • They can add comments to existing intranet content
  • They can interact directly with a CEO or manager using real-time, rich media

How did you do?

The next two sets of questions reflect the mind-set of a traditional office that is not concerned with capturing feedback unless there’s a direct need to respond. No dialogue is requested, and employees and customers typically don’t have a feeling of ownership for their brand. Their loyalty goes as far as their paycheck or waiting until a competitor offers a lower-priced product or service.

Do your employees genuinely feel that their opinions and concerns matter to management and that their interests are factored into management’s decision-making process? 

  • Not sure why it matters
  • I don’t know
  • No, but at least we’re listening
  • Yes, and here’s how I know [insert specifics here]

What tools do you have in place to capture employee thoughts and ideas? 

  • Employees can submit thoughts and ideas to their managers for discussion
  • Employees can submit thoughts and ideas in departmental meetings where appropriate
  • Employees can submit thoughts and ideas by commenting on company blogs or other rich media presentations
  • Employees can submit thoughts and ideas using the media they create on blogs or other formats
  • Employees can use an online submission tool that allows other employees to comment and vote on ideas and issues that are raised

Your answers to these questions demonstrate that a company is providing tools for dialogue. This is the first step toward true corporate transparency because it shows that the organization is listening to a variety of sources and publics.

It also demonstrates preparedness to accept and address criticism, because the comments people make may not always be positive. If those comments stay publish so they can be dealt with, trust is invariably given to management since they didn’t silence a critical voice.

Are your employees champions for your brand away from the workplace?

  • Not sure why it matters
  • I don’t know
  • No, but we’re working to empower them to feel ownership of our brand
  • Yes, and here’s how I know [insert specifics here]

How do you communicate with your customers?

  • By posting updated news and press releasese on our Web site
  • Through media outreach (placing articles on the mainstream and trade press)
  • Via our customer service representatives online or by phone
  • Via our various department blogs and other rich media where we have a direct dialogue with our customers
  • Via the blogs and social community we’ve created for our customers so they can create discussions around our brand themselves

The final answers represent an ultimate goal for tactical corporate transparency: providing your employees and customers tools to create media around your brand for themselves, outside of what management is doing. 

Enlightened leaders understand that conversations around their brand are taking place all the time, so why not create a community for users that you can host? Let them speak freely about your products and services in an environment where you can prove you’re listening all the time.

Excerpted from Tactical Transparency, by Shel Holtz and John C. Havens.Copyright© 2008 Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Author Bios
Shel Holtz
is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology, consulting with organizations on the effective use of online platforms for communication. He has written or co-written six books, most recently co-authoring Tactical Transparency with John C. Havens. He speaks to audiences around the world on social media and communications. To promote the benefits of open access, he launched the website, StopBlocking.org. You can find Shel online at www.holtz.com.

John C. Havens is vice president of busines development for BlogTalkRadio.com. His About.com Guide to Podcasting show has featured interviews with hundreds of new media’s leading minds. 

 

 
 
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