Posting for a Friend’s Role – HR Comms Position in Switzerland

I’ve never posted a note for an open position on my blog.  But I have a friend who is a recruiter, Todd Civardi, who is looking for candidates for a role in Switzerland that seems quite interesting…and he’s asked me to put my social media skills to the test in helping him out.

So here goes:

Global Internal Communications Manager HR Focus(Switzerland)
This is a full time role with a major multi-national company with its head office in Switzerland.
They pride themselves on best practice communications and have an extensive comms department with a real strength in internal and change communications.  Overall, the group has been keen on building efficiencies, and they have focused on moving from lots of local decisions being made to a more central head-office function.
This is a position requiring someone to be quite pro-active, strategic and with a personal presence to influence and lead others.    With better internal communications change can be more effectively managed.
This is a global role and, as all business is conducted in English, strong writing skills are important.  No other languages are required.
Base salary of 120 –140KCHF (£80 –92K) plus bonus which historically has been 12 –20% as well as package of other benefits.
Although Switzerland has a higher cost of living than England the taxes are less.
The company has an excellent reputation and is one that is both professional and friendly.
Please forward CV and cover note to todd@shipleytodd.com.  A full job description will be forwarded upon receipt. (Of course please mention you saw this at The Intersection).
Todd Civardi
Shipley Todd
TEL: +44 (0)207 384 1252
MOB: +44 (0)7957 156 418

Alligator Jaws and The Change Communication Gap

“There’s a big gap here” said my colleague Sven, holding his arms in the position of a hungry alligator’s jaws.

“The top is what we’re doing…and the bottom is what our bosses understand.”

The alligator impression came on the back of another demand from “Above” to produce the same deliverable in yet another form of packaging, but it also reflects the challenge a lot of internal comms and change folks seem to be facing.

Part of the challenge may be our inability to frame our ideas succinctly enough for the technically-educated senior managers to whom we report.  Part of it may reflect these managers unease with altering a status quo that they are nonetheless on the record to change.  Or, more perniciously, there may be deep distrust of the more counter-intuitive approaches that are coming into fore – the social and behavior innovations which offer much promise in accelerating and embedding change, but present stark challenges to those who cling to a belief in hierarchical control.

The problem with counter-intuitive solutions is not necessarily whether they work, or whether they can be proven to work (with the successes of more enlightened practitioners adding daily to the knowledge base).  The problem is that embracing them means both to accept that conventional wisdom may actually be wrong, and to accept the risk involved in doing something that “just doesn’t seem right” even if there is proof and conviction on the other side of the table.

Having the courage of one’s convictions as a practitioner is necessary if we strategic communicators are to progress as a professional tribe.  But such courage alone is not sufficient.

The likes of McBostocenturebooz are all too happy to sell in old-fashioned, top-down, one-way cascade processes as “change communication”, and do so in a way that appeals more to executives’ sense of authority.

So, how do we win these battles?  I haven’t figured that one out, but I see two angles.  The first angle that could prove useful is that of risk management.  Intuitive, linear approaches like cascading seem to be de-risked, when in fact, they host the very risks implicated in many if not most change failures.  Their linear appeal papers over the ability of resisters, and particularly resistant middle managers, to subvert, sabotage and savage any changes, almost guaranteeing failure without embedding some upward accountability.

But the second angle is more tricky.  How can you sell “upward accountability” in an environment where the CEO likes to say “this is not a democracy?”

In my view the normal workplace is no less democratic than a traditional Western country.  Employees are allowed to make most of their own decisions. They associate and communicate mostly with whom they please, and ultimately make the decision of whether to show up for work on any day and whether to do their work or something else with their time.

But I view the workplace through the lens of my training as a politico and a social researcher who has come very late to corporate life.  Articulating it – and the modern tools and tricks of change communication – through the frame of a technically trained senior manager whose job is on the line is proving far more of a challenge, so far.

 

Is Confidentiality the New Privacy? New Post on Melcrum

In my latest post for Melcrum’s Internal Communication Hub, I take on the current concern about confidentiality – its future viability, and the likelihood of a backlash against transparency from old-school corporate managers.

The article, which can be found at:

http://www.internalcommshub.com/open/professional/toptips/confidentiality.shtml

also delves into specific challenges facing communicators in this environment, and some insights into how to communicate effectively even if channels start to close.

 

CommScrum Predictions for 2011

The CommScrum crew shakes off its winter torpor to unleash a baker’s dozen predictions for 2011. 

Reflecting our varying degrees of innate optimism and over-exposure to Northern European winter darkness, the predictions range from the expected ascendancy of sustainability and authenticity to more cautionary notes about confidentiality and the impact of voter anger in the workplace.

This post can be found at Commscrum,

www.commscrum.com

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,600 times in 2010. That’s about 11 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 35 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 36 posts.

The busiest day of the year was March 2nd with 63 views. The most popular post that day was “Four Forms” of Engagement Model Published by Leading Employee Engagement Personality.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, linkedin.com, facebook.com, commscrum.wordpress.com, and hootsuite.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for mike klein, gaps in the market place, gaps in the marketplace, employee engagement form, and employee engagement models.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

“Four Forms” of Engagement Model Published by Leading Employee Engagement Personality January 2010
10 comments

2

Social Communication January 2010

3

“It’s Not Just About Social Media”–An Introduction to Social Communication May 2010
7 comments

4

Contact January 2010
1 comment

5

About Mike Klein May 2010
2 comments

Challenge, Teach, Write, Ask: Some Resolutions for 2011

With New Years practically upon us, here are my five resolutions for the coming year:

5) Get better at using small sample, closed-end surveys:  while doing big sample, open-ended surveys can yield massive insights, concerns about survey (and analysis) fatigue require greater sharpness in the research department.  Gaining that is a top goal for me.

4) Blog more regularly – and make better use of other publications and public forums.  I’ve always gotten good responses to links on my blog to stuff I’ve published elsewhere.  More focus on getting out one or two good pieces out a month, and getting them to where actual readers are would be a good accomplishment.

3) Generate more private client work – I have a good relationship with my employer which allows a limited amount of private client work, and I have one private client I love that doesn’t take too much time.  There’s room for one or two more…

2) Continue challenging conventional wisdom – some of the best internal communication approaches are counterintuitive and non-linear (such as focusing on reaching fewer, more influential employees with richer content streams rather than reducing everything to four-bullet powerpoint slides) even against the wailings of senior executives

1) Find more opportunities to present and teach.  I would love to teach through retirement, and to start getting good teaching and conference experience in my remaining professional years (I’m 46, believe it or not).

If I nail 4 out of 5, I’ll have had a phenomenal 2011.  But I’m going for it all…any help would be appreciated.

Time for some end-of year comms satire

On the occasion of the coming holidays, I share an item I published on Communitelligence earlier this year–a satirical “interview” with the world’s leading Communication Consultant, T.D. Osfa:

The link can be found here.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Is Inconsistency the Hallmark of a Small Company? Or is Consistency The Enemy of Real Communication?

Much has been written of late about customer centricity and mass customisation as growth trends in the business world. But while those concepts seem to focus on individual and varied (and therefore inconsistent) needs, the question of whether consistency is still central to the growth and functioning of large organisations remains with us.

In some organisations, particularly those that attract technical or artistic talent, there is often a resistance to process or as its opponents more frequently call it, “bureaucracy”. Companies which promise less of such “interference” can often attract talent away from more rigorous (or, perhaps, more rigid) competitors, who then reinforce the burgeoning resistance.

Such resistance becomes problematic when these organisations attempt to grow. Growth by acquisition becomes difficult, as the acquisition of a more organised company may force the acquirer either to adopt the acquired company’s systems and processes, effectively resulting in a reverse takeover with serious personnel as well as procedural implications, or to deal with the acquisition as a stand-alone division without much benefit from financial or social synergy.

It also becomes problematic when organisations aim to grow organically. Operating practices centred around unwritten precedents exclude new or uninitiated staff. Reinvention of common tasks becomes mistaken for innovation. Leaders who move between locations have to spend an inordinate time learning “how we do things here”. Scalability becomes impossible in the face of this kind of inconsistency.

To be sure, from a communication perspective, it is pivotal not to place all on the altar of consistency. In a previous role – an SAP implementation within a massive US-based conglomerate, there was intense pressure to make all communication consistent, at the cost of exposing audiences to irrelevant or insufficiently complete information. The “Top-Down-One-Size-Fits-All” approach to internal communication takes consistency to a brutal extreme, stifling dialogue and muffling any real employee sense of participation or influence.

Perhaps a healthy perspective is to look at the way cars are built these days–with a number of large automakers building common, consistent platforms, and where the customer-specific customisation is integrated with the consistent platform. What is consistent are certain parameters (size and shape and basic structure) and what is customised is what the customer genuinely values (comfort and safety features, brand name, alignment with local legislation).

Similarly, consistent communication processes and structures–combined with customised content and appropriate, real tone–offer a scalable approach that in turn, supports the business as it attempts to become more scalable as well. Consistency is not the enemy of reality–it is a platform for growth.

World’s Underrated Job Title

In their series of ever-tantalising TV advertisements, Qatar Airways always signs off with the phrase “World’s 5-Star Airline”. Not the grammatically-more-correct “The World’s Five-Star Airline”.

Oftentimes, non-standard grammar makes concepts more memorable.

So I proffer “Is Internal Communicator World’s Underrated Job Title”? I personally think it is.

If we believe we are actually influential in distinguishing, shaping and delivering organisational outcomes, then we still pale in prestige to the CEO’s, CFO’s and even the HR Directors with whom we share and spread our influence.

Is this a bad thing? Not for now. There is a certain air of stealth in the way we are becoming influential—resorting to language, writing or facilitation skills to sharpen objectives, expand scopes, or stimulate and satiate customers.

But I can see the time coming where real masters can build comparable prestige in the way they create the verbal boundaries in which successful organisations operate. So for now, Internal Communicator remains World’s Underrated Job Title. Even though it sometimes feels like World’s Five Star Role.

Teutonic Shift

While the business communication industry in Europe has most heavily centered around London for the last twenty years, their is a seemingly seismic surge of activity underway well to the east, as evidenced by last week’s Quadriga University Internal Communication conference in Berlin.

Now, an internal communication conference in and of itself would not be intrinsically newsworthy.  Commercial and association conferences have long been held all over Europe. But, aside from the academic imprimature, the Quadriga conference showed an emerging division between a UK-dominated field that still focuses on executive communication and “employee engagement” and a Continental alternative that takes an interest in social communication, feedback aggregation, and intranet self-organisation.

It’s monarchic versus democratic; top-down versus lateral; social media vs. social communication.   Pioneering ideologies wrapped in practical methodologies.

Does the Berlin conference represent a seismic change in the industry’s intellectual direction?  It’s a bit early to tell, but perhaps one can call it a Teutonic shift.  And, having been priviliged to present on Social Communication, one I’m all too happy to applaud.